What is Golding saying metaphorically about the structures of civilization?

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robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here's a quote from William Golding:

The theme (of Lord of the Flies) is an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature. The moral is that the shape of society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however apparently logical or respectable.

The argument Golding is making that it is a society full of good individuals that becomes a good society. That you can't impose goodness through rules. You have to foster it from within. And the society in which "Lord of the Flies" is located is set in a war - the plane is "shot down", and at the end, its a naval officer who rescues. The sort of behaviour in the book, Golding argues, is what a society at war breeds.

So the structures of the civilisation in which the novel is set are at fault. And within that, the boys' behaviour - being seduced by the glamour of a mask, a hunt, and persecution of others, particularly with a tyrannous leader like Jack - is strongly reminiscient of the behaviour of many countries during World War II and the rise of Nazism. Our structures, Golding argues, are clearly not trouble-proof, clearly not darkness-proof.

How could they be? Could Piggy and Ralph's democracy ever survive? Or does the fundamental darkness of man doom it permanently to being defeated by glamour and hunting and face paint?

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Lord of the Flies

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