Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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What comparison is implied at the end of the novel?

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Ralph and the naval officer are representing the same ultimate goal: a desire for order—maybe at any cost.

When he first arrives and inspects the scene, the officer's demeanor is worth noting:

The officer looked at Ralph doubtfully for a moment, then took his hand away from the butt of the revolver.

Although he's encountered a group of skinny, dirty, scared kids, his first instinct is to go for his gun: order at any cost. And that is just what Ralph has faced on the island. Although he tries to explain that he made attempts to organize the boys better at first, he cannot express himself to this man. After Ralph lost control of his group, they became savages, literally murdering each other in a bloodthirsty display that captured the lack of reason and order that Jack created. On the island, violence came from a lack of law, and here is a man who is bringing potential violence with him in order to restore law and order to the group.

Note that in the final line, he is "allowing his eyes to rest on the trim cruiser in the distance." The comparison of violence as a result of no order and violence that is sometimes done in the name of order is striking.

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At the end of chapter 12, after the arrival of the naval officer, Golding uses the reaction of the officer and the behavior of the boys to create a metaphor about the nature of man.

The naval officer who arrives to rescue the boys is initially horrified at the way the boys have behaved and at at how their civility had degenerated. The irony is that the officer embodies the same qualities as they boys: he is civil and human, and simultaneously an officer in Britain's armed forces, an organization whose main purpose is to kill. The naval ship in which the officer arrives serves as a symbol of war and destruction similar to that Jack and the hunter wreaked upon the boys. The sentence in which this comparison becomes apparent is, “He turned away to give them time to pull themselves together; and waited, allowing his eyes to rest on the trim cruiser in the distance.” Like Ralph, the officer clings to a code of civilization he does not understand. Like Jack, he unquestioningly follows his primitive desires.

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