What comparison is implied at the end of the novel Lord of the Flies?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Lord of the Flies ends abruptly with a frantic Ralph fleeing the burning jungle, only to be promptly rescued by the arrival of a naval officer in a crisp white uniform; his sudden presence represents a return to order and the sanctity of civilization.  Only seconds later, the savages with spears in hand stumble onto the beach, and the officer comments that it looks like they have been "having a war or something" (201). 

Golding makes a timely comparison between the immaculate naval officer and his "trim cruiser" and the boys' own manhunt for Ralph (202).  Golding himself had this to say about the significance of his novel's ending:

"The officer, having interrupted a man-hunt, prepares to take the children off the island in a cruiser, which will presently be hunting its enemy in the same implacable way.  And who will rescue the adult and his cruiser?" ("Notes on Lord of the Flies" 204).

Golding cleverly uses the boys' fallen society to parallel the epic struggle of World War II.  The novel's ending reaffirms that the boys' downfall on the island did not occur just because they were young or because of their environment; by slyly hinting at the drama of World War II, Golding suggests that his theme of destruction has universal meaning for all of humanity.

"Notes on Lord of the Flies" by E.L. Epstein--

Golding, William.  Lord of the Flies.  New York: Perigee, 2006. 

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