Why does Golding describe the savages as "little boys on the beach" and Jack in particular as a "Little Boy"?What point is he trying to convey to the reader with this shift in wording?

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jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Early in the novel, Lord of the Flies, a differentiation is made between the really small children on the island, who are around the age of six, and the bigger children like Jack, Piggy, Ralph and Simon, who range between the ages of twelve and sixteen.

There are two very telling passages later in the novel where "little boy" is used to press home a point. And that point is that they are all but little boys, that we humans are all but little boys. The is no need to separate little from big; we all do the same things for we all bare the same motivations and same darkness in our hearts.

The first passage is Simon's confrontation with the head of the slaughtered pig:

“You are a silly little boy,” said the Lord of the Flies, “just an ignorant, silly little boy.”

Simon moved his swollen tongue but said nothing.

“Don’t you agree?” said the Lord of the Flies. “Aren’t you just a silly little boy?”

Simon answered him in the same silent voice.

And here we are at the last scene in the book:

But the island was scorched up like dead wood—Simon was dead—and Jack had. . . . The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.

Yes, we are little boys all of us. Just silly little boys.

Read the study guide:
Lord of the Flies

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