Where does Humanity go wrong when it cannot trust ts leader(s) in Lord of the Flies?

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

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Humanity goes wrong when it cannot trust its leaders in Lord of the Flies because the other boys lose their faith in authority and civilization.  At the very beginning of the novel, the boys all agreed that they should have a leader and rules to guide their behavior on the island.  Even Jack was excited about the prospect of creating their own little society:

"'We'll have rules!' he cried excitedly.  'Lots of rules! Then when anyone breaks 'em--'

'Whee--oh!'" (33).

However the boys' excitement at creating rules and leadership soon fades as the practicality of having to follow them and Ralph's leadership sets in.  The other boys, and particularly Jack, begin to resist Ralph's authority as chief.  Ralph becomes extremely frustrated when Jack's hunters let the signal fire.  When he calls the meeting to discuss the tribe following the rules, he comments:

"'Things are breaking up. I don't understand why. We began well; we were happy. And then--' He moved the conch gently, looking beyond them at nothing, remembering the beastie, the snake, the fire, the talk of fear" (82). 

Ralph struggles with his leadership precisely because he does not know how to address the boys' fear of the beast.  He expects them to follow the rules of the island, but he cannot ensure their safety or well-being.  The boys' collective fear seeps into their daily life, poisoning their respect for Ralph and authority in general.  In the end, when humanity cannot trust its leaders, the result is savagery, fear, and ultimately death.  No where is this more evident than in the end of the novel.  The boys have abandoned Ralph and their original rules and live as savages; under Jack's leadership they hunt for Ralph as they would a wild animal. 

 

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