In the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Ralph experiences a loss of innocence. How can I explain how Ralph's view of the world changes (for a 5 paragraph essay).

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Having come from a home with a father who is a military officer, Ralph has grown up with order and rules; however, once he finds himself stranded on an island with other boys from his school, Ralph is confronted with the atavistic fears and instincts of human nature removed from civilization which act to change his view of the world.

With a sentence which points to Ralph's separation from society and its conditioning along with his confrontation with what are man's essential fears and drives as a thesis statement, the student can mention the factors which serve to change Ralph's views:

THESIS: After the introduction, make a general statement of about Ralph's state upon arrival at the island and what he is confronted with in general (an uncivilized island [no rules], inherent fears and instincts of man, and man's inherent evil which is uncontrolled) Have 3 "opinions" such as given in the parentheses. These will form the topic sentences of each body paragraph. The conclusion, then, summarizes the thesis and the points you have made in the body, ending with a sentence that extends to a relative thought-provoking remark (this is called "the clincher").

Here are some points to consider about the changes in Ralph's perception of the world (life):

  • When Ralph first arrives, he feels as though he has is at a real Coral Island, the setting of a book about English schoolboys who prevail over savage natives and preserve British civilized behavior. Shedding his clothes, he delights in the beauty of the water and island.
  • After he meets Piggy and other boys, "the golden boy," [perceived at that time as the paragon] whose father is a military officer, Ralph becomes what is perceived as "the natural born leader."
  • Piggy has given him a conch and Ralph uses it to call the boys to order. Then, he instructs his followers that they must build shelters and set up a rescue fire so that planes will see it. 
  • All goes well until Jack, who was voted down as leader, decides to be the lead hunter, and along with others kills a feral pig. Because the excitement of finding and killing a pig is much greater than the work of constructing shelters and stoking the rescue fire, the important tasks of civilization are neglected. At first, Ralph is unable to comprehend the rapidity with which most of the boys give in to such primordial instincts of barbarism and blood lust. For, when Jack paints his face, hiding it, he is "liberated from shame and [the] self-consciousness" of civilization, which is disturbing to Ralph (Ch. 4). He also is amazed that the boys have ignored his orders and have let the fire go out when they miss being sited by a passing ship as they have been more occupied with catching a pig. "You and your hunting! We might have gone home--" Ralph chastises Jack for his desire for instant gratification over the civilized factions of his humanity.
  • While Jack unites the boys with fear and intimidation, Ralph, confronted by the flaws of humans, dreams of his childhood in which life made sense. (Ch. 6) He wishes to escape from the truth of the flaws in humans.
  • Then, even Ralph succumbs to the inherent savagery in man. Attracted by the barbarism of the hunt, Ralph participates in the slaughter of a pig and is exhilarated by it: 

"I hit him! The spear stuck in....He, then, "sunned himself in their new respect and felt that hunting was good after all."

        Here Ralph must come to grips with his own inherent savagery, and his           deteriorating humanity as his primitive nature has been awakened.

  • Then, when he attends Jack's feast, he fails in his efforts as he becomes swept away the frenzy. Later, when he realizes what has happened to Simon and he and Piggy have done nothing to prevent his death, Ralph feels terribly guilty; worse, when he discusses what has happened with Piggy, Piggy refuses to admit their guilt.
  • After Ralph becomes the victim himself of the savagery of the boys, he must become savage himself as a defense. He steals the spear on which the Lord of the Flies has been impaled, a symbolic gesture, and tries to defend himself. When he is finally rescued, Ralph reflects upon what has happened on the island, and he cries about his loss of innocence and knowledge of evil that have altered his view of the world unalterably:

Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.

Read the study guide:
Lord of the Flies

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