Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies book cover
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What deeper meaning is Golding suggesting in Lord of the Flies about man in the statement "maybe it's only us"?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Simon's statement implies that within each person there is an inherent savage, which is an essential aspect of our being. Golding's primary message throughout his classic novel Lord of the Flies is that mankind is inherently wicked, cruel, and savage. Golding explores this theme by creating archetypes and illustrating how civilized English boys rapidly descend into savagery in an environment without laws, regulations, and order. Despite Ralph and Piggy's efforts to establish a civil society, Jack and his hunters quickly transform into savages and return to their primitive, uncivilized state shortly after arriving on the uninhabited island. As the severed pig's head explains to Simon in chapter eight, the "beast" on the island is inside each child, which reflects Golding's message regarding mankind's inherently wicked nature. Overall, Simon's statement that "maybe it's only us" corresponds to Golding's belief that there is a "beast" inside of each person.

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Simon volunteers the truth of "maybe it's only us" in Chapter Five, 'Beast from the Water' as the boys discuss the possibility of a fearsome beast hiding on the island (89).  Golding uses Simon's statement to reinforce his larger developing theme of "mankind's essential illness," the idea that humanity, while capable of great love, loyalty, and kindness, is also susceptible to potential darkness, evil, and violence (89).  Golding uses the boys' struggles on the island to show how even civilized, moral people can descend into savagery and hedonism; Jack, particularly, loses his identity as a proper English choir boy and becomes a savage, ruthless hunter, eventually becoming more dangerous to the other boys than any supposed beast from their collective worst nightmares. 

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