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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Discussion Topic

Representation of the struggle between civilization and savagery in Lord of the Flies


In Lord of the Flies, the struggle between civilization and savagery is represented through the boys' descent into chaos. The conch symbolizes order and democracy, while the beast represents primal instincts. As the boys abandon societal rules, their savage nature emerges, leading to violence and the breakdown of their makeshift society.

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What quotes or events in Lord of the Flies represent the fight for civilization?

In Chapter 3, Ralph and Jack begin to argue over building shelters and hunting. Jack insists that the boys need meat, while Ralph continues to promote the importance of building shelters and maintaining a signal fire. When Ralph mentions that the best thing they can do is find a way to be rescued, Jack says, "Rescue? Yes, of course! All the same, I'd like to catch a pig first---" (Golding 74). Ralph then says, "So long as your hunters remember the fire----" (Golding 75). Jack replies by saying, "You and your fire!" (Golding 75). The signal fire is a symbol of hope and rescue throughout the novel. Jack expresses his affinity for hunting pigs and dismisses the significance of the signal fire. Ralph's attempt to remind Jack about the importance of maintaining the fire is ignored. This minor disagreement eventually leads to the conflict between civility and savagery.

In Chapter 5, Ralph holds a meeting to discuss why certain tasks and responsibilities are not being carried out by the boys. The boys then discuss the existence of the beast and Ralph says that they need to vote on whether they believe there are ghosts on the island. When no one raises their hand, Golding writes,

"The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away. Once there was this and that; and now---and the ship had gone" (128).

Piggy attempts to regain control by saying,

"What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages? What's grown-ups going to think? Going off---hunting pigs---letting fires out---and now!" (Golding 120).

Clearly, the boys are gradually descending into savagery. Ralph and Piggy try their best to argue for civility, but the majority of boys are beginning to neglect their responsibilities and follow Jack.

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What topic sentences and quotes suggest the theme of civilization vs savagery in Lord of the Flies?

For the topic civilized vs. savagery, you could write your essay about how savagery overcomes civilization because the boys are so young. You can use the following topic sentences and quotes:

1. Though the boys try to establish some sort of system, it does not take a long time for the boys to quit listening to their chief.

Quotes #1: "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." (2.192)

Quote #2: "All this I meant to say. Now I've said it. You voted me for chief. Now you do what I say." 

They quieted, slowly, and at last were seated again. Ralph dropped down and spoke in his ordinary voice." (5,58-59)

2. When Jack goes to hunt, he immediately gets overexcited from the thrill of injuring and killing the pig.

Quote #3:"He [Jack] tried to convey the compulsion to track down and kill that was swallowing him up.

"I went on. I thought, by myself—"

The madness came into his eyes again.

"I thought I might kill." (3,37-40)

Quote #4: [Jack] began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling. (4,33)

3. Simon's and Piggy's deaths symbolize how savagery's wins over civilization:

Quote #5: "The sticks fell and the mouth of the new circle crunched and screamed. The beast [Simon] was on its knees in the center, its arms folded over its face. It was crying out against the abominable noise something about a body on the hill." (9, 89)

Quote #6: "The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist." (11, 209)

I do not know which edition you are using, so the quotes are identified by (chapter, paragraph). 

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