“We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all we’re not savages.”
Lord of the flies is a celebrated modern classic novel written by the illustrious William Golding. In this book, the author writes an allegorical story where a group of young, innocent schoolboys face a plane crash, causing them to be stranded on an isolated island. Through the many events that happen in this novel, the group of boys loses their innocent and childish thoughts, descending into savages. The book demonstrates how a society holds everyone together and how out of control it can become without these conditions, leading us to forget civilization, democracy, order and social organization, the capability of distinguishing between right and wrong losing to dictatorship, anarchy and savagery. The author demonstrates the perspectives on how political systems cannot govern society effectively without taking into consideration the defects of human nature which is proved through two of the main characters, Ralph and Jack. The author shows the contradiction between the two characters, where Ralph acts as the primary representative of the order of civilization and Jack as the savagery, anarchy and the darker side of human nature.
The book begins with a chapter entitled “The Sound of the Shell” including an introduction to Piggy and Ralph, where they enjoy a mixture of fun and freedom, building up their friendship, and finding the conch in the novel, a symbolic representation with respect to authority. The conch, a ‘creamy object’ found lying ‘among the ferny weeds’ was first identified as ‘a shell’ (pg 10). The conch retains its important symbolic role as the book progresses, even to the point where the boys lose their respect for their old lives, and descend into savages. The fascination by the beauty of the shell brings them together for the first time, developing their friendship further. By learning how to create sounds with the shell, squirting air into the shell, emitting ‘low farting’ noises and ‘deep harsh note(s)’, (pg 12), they end up calling a choir, led by Jack Merridew, with the first impression of him being a strong-willed and enthusiastic boy who demonstrates leadership and authority over his group “Choir! Stand still!” His leadership skills were immediately identified by Ralph as he recognizes that Jack has “the voice of one who knew his own mind”. A lot of strong order and abundant discipline amongst the choir is also proven through the way they were described to join Piggy and Ralph “Marching approximately in step in two parallel lines and dressed in eccentric clothing”, holding onto “shorts, shirts and different garments” as well as wearing “a square black cap with a silver badge” and their whole body covered by ‘black cloaks’ (pg 15). Jack’s cap, differing from the other choir members “his cap badge was golden” further proves his role as a leader among the choir.
This is a preview of the whole essay
Later in the chapter, we see a voting section surfacing, with the competition for leadership between Ralph and Jack. Piggy would have made a good leader due to his superb intelligence; however, he lacked vital social and communication skills and had trouble getting along with the other boys on the island. Piggy was a precise representation of civilized order and democracy, making him a potential leader. Piggy recognized at an early stage that organization was required to ensure their survival and this is shown “I’ll expect we’ll want their names…and make a list. We ought to have a meeting” (pg 5),“We got to find the others. We got to do something” (pg 10) and “We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They’ll come when they hear us-.” (pg 12) As the voting progresses, Jack’s arrogant character is revealed as we see him boasting about being ‘chapter chorister, head boy’ as well as the ability to ‘sing C sharp’ (pg 18). When the election begins, it is proven that the choir fears Jack, as they unwillingly vote for him, “with dreary obedience the choir raised their hands’ (pg 10). Piggy also becomes intimidated by Jack and this is seen when he says “I’m scared of him, and that’s why I know him. If you’re scared of someone you hate him but you can’t stop thinking about him. You kid yourself he’s all right really, an’ when you see him again, it’s like asthma an’ you can’t breathe.”Jack’s physical appearance is described as “Inside the floating cloak he was tall, thin and bony; his hair was red beneath the black cap. His face was crumpled and freckled and ugly without silliness”. (pg 19) Ralph is depicted as the typical human being in the book, impure to both good and evil. As the protagonist in this novel, he represents the democratic aspects of government. He then becomes democratically elected as a leader of the group. When this happens, Jack becomes very angry, and we can tell that he is not used to being rejected the role of leader as seen “The freckles on Jack’s face disappeared under a blush of mortification.” The difference between Ralph and Jack is that Ralph always acted in everyone’s best interests. As Ralph sees Jack’s dismay, he immediately offers Jack a role and gives power to Jack “The choir belongs to you, of course”. (pg19) Ralph does this to ensure peace, and prevent unnecessary conflicts. This is the turning point where Jack then decides to become a hunter, and is the opening of the beginning of savage. When Ralph, Jack and Simon enter the jungle, Jack attempts to kill a pig but his conscience stops him and he lets the pig escape. However, in defense of his pride, he claimed that he was ‘choosing a place to stab the pig’ but when Ralph stated that he should ‘stick a pig’, Jack shows his understanding in the method of killing pigs by saying “You cut a pig’s throat to let the blood out…otherwise you can’t the meat” (pg 29). However, everyone could understand why he did not manage to kill the pig. This somehow proved their descent into savagery.
In chapter 2, the group begins to express their doubts and the first argument evolves. At first a meeting is called. Though meetings are an act of civilization, the meetings held enable them to quarrel. Ralph then imposes a few rules, one being that only the person holding the conch is able to speak, and that speakers must put their ‘hands up like at school’ (pg 31). The reason why Ralph imposes these rules abstracted from school is because they are efficient and comprehensible to all of the boys. Jack tries to establish rules to punish people who break the rules as seen “We’ll have rules! Lots of rules! Then when anyone breaks ‘em-”(pg 32). From this, we can tell that Jack takes pleasure by watching people get punished, and that he is someone that one would not want to offend.
As a whole, they set roles and rules, and the choir labels themselves as ‘hunters’. They set rules that everyone has to stick close together and try not to separate, and even set the timing where they are allowed to go for expeditions or to hunt food. However, the organized and disciplined behavior of the group of boys disappears gradually as the book progresses.
In chapter 2, Jack constantly bugs Ralph and mentioning that they require an army for hunting food. As seen when Ralph says “We’re on an island…We’re on an uninhabited island with no other people on it,’ followed by Jack breaking into the conversation saying, “All the same you need an army-for hunting. Hunting pigs-” Ralph then begins to get annoyed by his interruption and says that only when he passes the ‘shell’ to the person, later then referred to as the ‘conch’ (pg 31). This is seen when he says “And another thing. We can’t have everybody talking at once. We’ll have to have ‘Hands up’ like at school. He held up the conch before his face….I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking…And he won’t be interrupted. Except by me.” Jack, with his rude behavior stands on his feet and shouts “We have rules!… Lots of rules! Then when anyone breaks ‘em-”. From this we are able to see Jack’s impatient and rude behavior. Later on in the chapter, the boys, led by Jack go on a trip to light a fire, so as to allow rescuers to spot them, if they were to pass by. During this trip, Jack and Ralph realize that they were lacking matches to light the fire, as seen “The shameful knowledge grew in them and they did not know how to begin confession…Will you light the fire? Now the absurd situation was open, Jack lushed too. He began to mutter vaguely…He glanced at Ralph, who blurted out the last confession of incompetence. Has anyone got matches?” When Jack realizes that Piggy’s glasses could be used as a tool to direct the sun and set up a fire in the mountain, he impolitely points at Piggy and says “His specs-use them as burning glasses!” and snatches the glasses from Piggy without asking for permission. This shows his mean and harsh treatment towards Piggy. He then teases Piggy later on, “A fat lot you tried… You just sat”. From this, we can see Jack’s selfishness and how he does not think about other’s feelings before speaking. When Piggy indignantly states that he was holding the conch, and that he should been allowed to speak, Jack shuts him up an says “The conch doesn’t count on top of the mountain. You shut up”