Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a dramatic novel filled with irony, fear and truth. It touches on many issues surrounding government, Christianity and democracy. The book focuses on society and through its effective use of conflict, gives us an idea what life would like without rules and civilization. The novel tells a story of a plane filled with British school boys that crashes on a deserted island during World War 2. The boys, struggling to survive, test their morals, values and beliefs. Conflict is developed throughout the novel in the form of man vs. ature, man vs. man, man vs. himself, and man vs. society.
The first type of conflict that is developed in this novel in man vs. nature. The boys are stranded on an uninhabited, uncivilized island and have very limited resources available to them at their disposal. To survive, the boys start testing their morals and their survival instincts. At first, the boys are hesitant to do things that seem to be un-ethical, but eventually, even thought it conflicts with their prior beliefs, the boys give in and do what is necessary to survive.
In the beginning of this novel, Jack and Ralph set out to explore the island. On their adventure they encounter a pig, which they realize would be good meat and make good food for the group. Jack is at first reluctant to kill the pig, because the idea of killing a living thing disturbs him and goes against his moral conduct. Throughout the novel, not only does Jack eventually accept and kill pigs, but, towards the end, Jack’s warrior identity brutally murdered the sow and hung his head on a stick. One could say he developed a sort of sick obsession with killing.
When he once killed out of necessity, he now kills just for sport. Another type of conflict that is present and dominant in this novel is man vs. man. In everyday life, people’s different personalities cause disagreements and arguments. As with any group of people, everyone will not always agree on everything and see eye to eye. When you are talking about a bunch of kids with no adult figure to control them, the arguments and disagreements are pushed to an extreme. To better civilize the island, the boys decide to elect a leader, essentially an adult figure to keep things in order.
Ralph gets elected as leader, which isn’t to Jack’s liking. Jack’s jealousy causes the boys to be in constant competition trying to prove that they are better suited for the job. The competition eventually causes the group to split into two different “tribes,” with Ralph as one leader and Jack as the other. The boys are fighting and arguing constantly. The splitting of the group marks the point where the boys make shift society crumbles. A third type of conflict is man vs. himself which is also a prominent type of conflict found in this novel.
During the course of this novel the boys experience a lot of internal conflict. Each individual character in the novel must struggle with this and essentially choose to retain their ‘civilization’ or join with the ‘savages. ‘ Not only do they experience regular, everyday conflict, like we all do- doubts and fears confronting with knowledge and heart. Struggling with decisions to be made and whether the decision is the right one. -the boys also battle between the pervious beliefs that their parent’s/guardians have instilled in them vs. heir survival instincts.
Ralph experiences inner conflict while trying to make the groups decisions; doubting whether he is a good leader; wishing he was more logical like Piggy. Simon, very obviously experienced inner conflict through talking to the Lord of the Flies. In fact, Lord of the Flies was simply a product of Simon’s dehydration and inner thoughts. Simon drove himself crazy while struggling with his internal conflict, to the point where he became internally damaged. Samneric also experience inner conflict towards the end of this novel.
They were loyal to Ralph and wanted to stick by him, but they knew in order to survive they must join Jack’s tribe. Even though they didn’t like Jack, and disagreed with him and his savagery, they did what they had to do to survive. The final type of conflict found in this novel is man vs. society. From the beginning of the novel, the boys form what seems to be a democratic group. The things that they do, like electing a leader, assigning jobs and positions, and creating a set of rules to live by all support the makings of any democratic group.
Some of the boy’s opinions conflict with the society’s, and the boys begin to question the rules. Jack actually challenges the society by trying to get Ralph to be kicked off as their leader and to get himself elected in his place, this marks the first major conflict within their makeshift society. When Jack breaks off from society and takes a group of boys with him, the “society” is totally disregarded. Jack and his tribe become total savages, leaving the rules and the society with them. The total disregard for society is what ultimately causes the deaths of both Simon and Piggy.
The boys because they broke away from society and no longer have any rules, decent so far into savagery that they aren’t even aware how horrible their actions are. This novel efficiently uses many different types of conflict to show us how society would deteriorate and turn into chaos without rules. The boys on the island go from being well-mannered school boys to savages in a matter of weeks. It shows us that even though we all imagine how nice it would be if we totally disregarded all rules, that society would cease to exist without them!
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