If the point of Lord of the Flies is that man is inherently evil, how come Ralph, Piggy and Simon do not become violent as the other boys descend into a savage madness capable of unspeakable...

If the point of Lord of the Flies is that man is inherently evil, how come Ralph, Piggy and Simon do not become violent as the other boys descend into a savage madness capable of unspeakable creulty?  

How could some men be susceptible to evil and not others?

Asked on by ebaser

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ebaser | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Thank you for that well-reasoned informative response. However, as is consistent with your statement that good and evil exist in all mankind, I wish to delve deeper into the question of how and why some individuals able to overcome their "dark side," if you will, and remain "good," while others succumb to their evil nature.

It is evident from the text  that Simon, Piggy, Ralph, (even Sam and Eric) do not devolve into savages.  However, and this is evident in the book when Ralph questions, why the rules just couldn't be followed, why Jack couldn't just ask for the glasses, etc...., does there exist a defining difference between those susceptible to evil and those who can resist it. What prevented the boys from existing peacefully on the island as it seems most consistent with rational thought?

Paine, Conrad and Yeats and Hobbes all have referenced the "dark hearts or man" or the need for government to protect man from their evil nature in their writings. Accordingly, does this evil spirit prevent peaceful coexistence and, if so why?  Why is the darker side of man more powerful than reason?

So, as the novel is a parable, Golding seems to be illustrating this truth, and the savagery of the World War that is happening in the backdrop of these events, strengthens and supports his message.  So I still question why this insidious evil that pervades the hearts of men dominates others, while some remain resistant to it. Although, given the atrocities that humanity has committed against one another, it appears mankind is more evil than good. Do happy endings only exist in fairy tales and fantasy?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

No one is either all good or all bad, and neither is humanity.  The moral of the story is not just that evil exists, but that it exists within all of us.  At the same time, so does good.  Each of us must fight our inherent evil so that the good part of us can come out on top.

At the end of the story, the boys are rescued.  The humanity of the boys is represented by Ralph’s reaction when he is rescued.

Simon was dead—and Jack had. . . The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. (ch 9, p. 289)

Ralph shows that not everyone is evil.  He is driven to grief when the full weight of what happened on the island hits him.  Although Jack represents unbridled savagery, Ralph demonstrates that you can come back from sin.

If Jack and the hunters were the only people on the island, you could make the argument that all human beings are savage immoral beasts.  However, each character is symbolic, and Piggy and Simon are also on the island.  Simon represents thought, religion, and humanity.  Piggy represents intelligence and resourcefulness.  Although in this case the savagery won out, because both of them die, their presence means the boys had hope to turn one way or the other.

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