Please provide three points of discussion related to civilization vs. savagery in Lord of the Flies, with three quotes for each point. 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One way Golding contrasts civilization and savagery in Lord of the Flies is through the characters. Ralph and Piggy represent civilization in different ways, and Jack represents savagery. Ralph is associated with rules, shelters, and the signal fire, all of which represent the civilized life the boys have been accustomed to before arriving on the island. In chapter 2 after the boys' first attempt at making a fire, Ralph states, "We ought to have more rules. Where the conch is, that's a meeting." Near the beginning of chapter 3, Ralph is making the third shelter with Simon, and he complains that already the boys are beginning to ignore civilization:

"They're hopeless. The older ones aren't much better. D'you see? All day I've been working with Simon. No one else. They're off bathing, or eating, or playing."

Maintaining civilization takes work, and few of the boys besides Ralph are willing to do that work. Ralph is constantly concerned about keeping the signal fire going; it represents the boys' link to the outside world and their hope of being rescued. However, after Simon has been murdered and most of the boys desert Ralph's group, even Ralph begins to lose his grip on civilization, forgetting the importance of the signal fire:

"Ralph tried indignantly to remember. There was something good about a fire. Something overwhelmingly good.

'Ralph's told you often enough,' said Piggy moodily. 'How else are we going to be rescued?'"

Piggy also represents civilization. His glasses represent technology and science, or the use of intellect over instinct. Piggy frequently reminds the boys about grown-up standards of behavior, and he is most closely associated with the conch, Golding's primary symbol of civilization. In chapter 4, when Ralph and Piggy confront Jack for letting the signal fire go out, the society has put savagery ahead of civilization--sacrificing their rescue for the thrill of hunting a wild pig. Golding writes:

"Ralph made a step forward and Jack smacked Piggy's head. Piggy's glasses flew off and tinkled on the rocks. Piggy cried out in terror."

This represents wild fury triumphing over intellect. Piggy often laments that grown-ups would not approve of the boys' actions; once in chapter 5 during the evening meeting just before it breaks up: "What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages? What's grownups going to think? Going off--hunting pigs--letting fires out--and now!" Piggy's murder at the same time as the conch disintegrates symbolizes the final descent of the boys into savagery: "The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee: the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist." 

Jack is associated with savagery because of his reliance on instinct rather than intelligence, his violence, and his defiance of rules and the conch. At the beginning of chapter 3, Golding describes Jack as animal-like as he tracks the pig: "Jack himself shrank at this cry with a hiss of indrawn breath, and for a minute became less a hunter than a furtive thing, ape-like among the tangle of trees." After Jack moves his tribe to Castle Rock in chapter 10, he beats Wilfred for no apparent reason; he rules his tribe through fear. Golding writes:

"The chief was sitting there, naked to the waist, his face blocked out in white and red. ... The newly beaten and untied Wilfred was sniffing noisily in the background."

In chapter 5, during the evening meeting, Jack displays his disdain for rules, embracing hunting, which represents savagery, instead:

"Bollocks to the rules! We're strong--we hunt! If there's a beast, we'll hunt it down! We'll close in and beat and beat and beat--!"

By use of the three main characters, Golding shows the contrast between civilization and savagery.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial