Jack Merridew, the brutish choir boy, could be said to represent the evil and darkness that, according to the Christian doctrine of original sin, lurks within us all. Although Jack likes to pride himself on being a young English gentleman, in actual fact he's just a hair's breadth away from...
Jack Merridew, the brutish choir boy, could be said to represent the evil and darkness that, according to the Christian doctrine of original sin, lurks within us all. Although Jack likes to pride himself on being a young English gentleman, in actual fact he's just a hair's breadth away from degenerating into outright savagery.
And that's precisely what he does. Jack's complacent belief in the civilized qualities of Englishmen proves to be so much flannel as he turns himself from a choir boy into a ruthless, blood-thirsty dictator. In doing so, he illustrates Golding's overriding point in the novel: that there's a fine line between civilization and barbarism.
Ralph at least tries to live up to the values of civilization by endeavoring to establish a rules-based order on the island. He represents what successive generations of British colonialists liked to think that they were doing when they conquered someone else's land. If Jack represents the sordid reality of colonialism, then Ralph can be seen as the embodiment of its bright, shining ideal.
Piggy is the voice of reason on the island. A practical, intelligent boy, he gets straight to the heart of a problem and immediately seeks rational solutions. He could be said to represent the rational element of the human soul, that part of us that separates us from the animals. Sadly, when faced with the concerted barbarism of Jack and his gang, Piggy's capacity for reason avails him nothing, an illustration perhaps of the limits of our reasoning faculties in dealing with the very depths of human evil.
Finally, we have the littluns, the youngsters, who, with their habitual credulity, could be said to represent man in his primitive state. Their unswerving belief in the existence of a mythical Beast that's supposed to be running wild across the island is a prime illustration of this.
Such gullibility and superstition are qualities that were habitually ascribed to Indigenous peoples in colonialist discourse and were used as a justification for the dominance and control of white Europeans. The proto-colonialist Jack certainly sees the littluns' belief in the existence of the Beast as giving him the right to control them.