Why is it important that the boys in Lord of the Flies are British?

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eabettencourt eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is very important that the boys are British.  Golding includes several moments in the book that involve the boys discussing how the British are best at everything, or how British adults would behave, etc.  First of all, it allows for even more of a downfall when the boys' inherent savagery emerges because, like it or not, we're not expecting this behavior from a group of private school British boys.  Even the shedding of their uniforms piece by piece is symbolically effective (more so than if they were not wearing uniforms to begin with).  Secondly, Golding is making a commentary on the British involvement in war during this time period.  he is potentially poking some jibes at the British and at the assumption that they are the best at everything, always remaining proper and dignified.  Golding's own experiences in the war taught him a lot about the inherent evil within us all.

dbrooks22 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't know that it is important that the boys are British. The book was first published in England, but other than that, the theme of the novel can pertain to any nationality.

The theme is the inherent evil in man and the brutal capability that lies within each person. It is also about the importance of rules in society and what would happen if that structure were to be lost or thrown away. This is shown throughout the novel as the boys progressively embrace their inner beast and dismiss the laws of society.

uniden56 | Student

Because at the time the book was written, people thought the British were the best behaved people around the world, which is kinda ironic because... i'll let you figure why its ironic.

sane-insanity | Student

In the second chapter Jack says

'We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages. We're English, and the English are best at everything.'

Which another example of Golding's dramatic irorny. As said the Enlgish are regarded to be 'proper', well behaved and generally polite and well goverened. Jack's private education should mean that he should display all these qualities. However the rules he was so excited to established, are the very ones he breaks once he realizes they do not benefit him in the ways he wishes and he ultimately degresses into the savage he said he was not.

Jack's statement in the second chapter is echoed by the naval officer when after seeing the boys he states:

'I should have thought that a pack of British boys... would have been able to put up a better show than that.'

He has the same ideology that Jack has, and Golding uses the statement to show the parallels between the two. Both Jack and the officer have been governed by the kind of society which enforces rules and 'proper' behaviour. But once they are taken away from the society that governs and are free to make decisions of their own, the rules and regulations are set aside and 'the darkness of man's heart' and the inner savagery that is masked my the veneer of civilisation is revealed. Therefore when looking at Jack, the naval officer is essentially looking at himself without the protection of of what most consider to be an extremely civilised society.

jpshank | Student

I would like to add that these are not only British private school boys, but Jack and his tribe, which are obviously the most savage of any in the book, are choir boys also and choir boys are generally portrayed as sweet and innocent especially when they are young.

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Lord of the Flies

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