How is this statement true in Lord of the Flies: "Throughout the novel, the boys undergo a transition"?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Taken as an allegory, William Golding's Lord of the Flies traces the loss of innocence in the boys stranded on the island that resembles a Garden of Eden.  Away from the corruption of society, some of the boys, nevertheless,degenerate into savages and all the boys but Simon become selfish. 

The innate evil and selfishness in man emerges in such characters as Roger and Jack.  His arm conditioned by society, Roger's sadistic nature is still controlled when little Henry in Chapter Four plays by the shore.  For, Roger throws stones at him, but he aims them outside an imaginary circle around Henry.  Later, however, he follows Ralph up the trail on the mountain and pounds the log on which Ralph sits threateningly. In the final chapters, he beats Sam'n'Eric, forcing them to join Jack's group, and he sharpens his spear on both ends when Ralph is forced to hide in the undergrowth as Jack's savages hunt him.

Jack, too, regresses to a savage as, like Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost, he feels it is better "to reign in hell than serve in heaven." That is, Jack would rather be the leader of the hunters than follow Ralph as leader.  He is, thus, the dark force of the allegory, painting his face and descending further and further into base savagery as he creates the ritual of enacting the killing of the sow that eventually does kill Simon who emerges from the forest and the frenzied boys bludgeon him to death.  At this point, the boys no longer listen to Ralph or to the voice of reason, Piggy.  Even Piggy has lost sight of truth as he refuses to believe that the savages were aware that they killed Simon.

In the last chapter, irrationality has overtaken all the boys but Ralph and Piggy as they have set fire to the entire island.  This "inferno" is only stopped by the intervention of civilization--albeit flawed--in the form of the British naval officer who anchors his war ship to come ashore and rescue Ralph and the others.

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Lord of the Flies

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