Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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In Lord of the Flies, how have the boys experienced the darkness of a man's heart?

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The main way in which the boys have experienced the darkness of man's heart is that they have been traumatized by the murders, cruelty and bloodlust they have seen during their time on the island as depicted in the novel "Lord Of The Flies" by John Steinbeck.

We now know through the research of experts how formative the vulnerable years of childhood are - the boys are at a vulnerable age where damaging childhood experiences can be life-changing for the worse. On the other hand, they may have learnt some things 1) they are not yet independent 2) they need the guidance of adults 3) unbridled freedom is not always good 3) anarchy is only fun for the strongest and 4) to be forever grateful to the powers of good for their deliverance from evil and a desire to go forward and do good themselves.

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Thomas Wolfe's famous novel, You Can't Go Home Again, best expresses the experience of the boys on the island:

The phrase had many implication for him.  You can't go back to your family, back home to our childhood, back home to romantic love,...back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing's sake, back home to atheticism, to one's youthful ideas....

As he has "a fleeting picuture of the strange glamour that had once invested the beaches," Ralph knows that he cannot go back to innocence, for he has seen "evil that men do" [Julius Caesar].  Two boys are dead; others such as Roger are given over to their base nature of sadism; several have been reduced to squealing, masked, blood-thirsty savages.  With the death of Simon and Piggy are the deaths of rationality and kindness. Ralph will always be wary of any one with whom he has a relationship, knowing that their is something lurking within the person.

Truly, the boys cannot "go home again."  They are forever changed, for they have witnessed the inner darkness of man.  Knowing it, they will always be watchful, fearing its reoccurrence.

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As the boys stayed on the island and the trappings of civilization eventually fell away, they began to see the darker and more animalistic side of man.

Ralph first started to notice it when he noticed that the boys were getting so dirty and appeared to be descending from the relative organization and civilization he had established.

The boys also start to see the darker desire to hunt and to kill, and in Roger's case to maim or mutilate.  They begin to revel in the kill, and Simon is the one who really sees the darkness or the beast for what it is, the evil inside of the boys.

After they kill Simon and then Roger kills Piggy, the survivors have seen the darkest side of human nature, the darkness of a man's heart and likely will be affected by it for the remainder of their lives.

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