Thursday, July 19, 2018

Lord of the Flies Summary/Essay

Lord of the Flies by William Golding


Lord of the Flies explores the darker sides of human nature, as told by William Golding. The author uses this story to illustrate man's instinctive savage nature present in even civilized beings. The story takes place on an uninhabited island when British boys find themselves stranded. Unknown to them, there is a war taking place in the outside world. 

The boys, who are unsupervised, try to lead themselves and get rescued off the island. Initially, they create an environment similar to the one they grew up in. They elect Ralph as the leader and he and Piggy, the intellect of the group, tries to keep a fire going to try and get rescued. But within their own small civilization, conflict occurs. Jack, the leader of the hunters, is a challenge to Ralph's leadership and slowly turns the other boys to him. To the other boys, Jack's violent and savage ways seem more attractive than Ralph's civilized society. Jack creates a tribe and the boys turn savage, killing Piggy and Simon, another boy. In the end, the boys get rescued by a British warship. The constant conflict between Ralph and Jack represents the civilized aspect of human nature, and the violent savage aspect of mankind, respectively.


A common topic that comes up when reading the Lord of the Flies is leadership. There are two contrasting leaders in the story, and many debate which was the better leader overall.

In The Lord of the Flies, a pack of boys crash land on an island and the pilot dies. Without anyone to lead them, they fight over who should be leader. At first, Ralph is elected leader and Jack is in charge of the hunters. Near the beginning of the story, everything is going well and there is a high chance for survival. Ralph is able to organize fairly well, and tries his best to get off the island. But as time goes on, Jack becomes power-hungry and eventually leaves the group. He is able to manipulate the other boys and turn them into bloodthirsty savages. Yet, through all this, Jack is able to keep the other boys content by giving them what they want. They both show qualities of leadership. They are both effective leaders, but in different ways.

Ralph is the initial leader of the group and his main goal is to lead the boys back home. With the help of Piggy, he is able to call assemblies and create rules that would have structured a temporary stable society. In this society he created, it was more of a democracy, where he was elected as leader by the people. On the contrary, Jack’s society similar to a dictatorship where he had absolute power. Ralph represents the civilized aspect of human nature and being able to keep order, while on the other hand, Jack represents the savage part of human nature where people are completely mindless and barbaric. When they are electing leaders, Jack arrogantly claims himself chief because he is head boy. “‘I ought to be chief,’ said Jack with simple arrogance, ‘because I'm chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp.’”(16). Ralph is chosen instead because he is less arrogant and the other kids think that he is a better leader. Ralph is also responsible and has plenty of leadership skills. At the end, when a British ship comes to save them, he calls himself the leader, therefore claiming that he is responsible for everything that had happened.

The other main leadership figure in this story was Jack. Initially, other readers might see Jack as a savage and view him as an incompetent leader. But if one looks at what he did for the other boys, he could have been a better leader than Ralph. When the other boys were getting sick of what they currently had to eat (berries and fruits), Jack was able to provide them with that they wanted, meat. As leader of the hunters, he was able to do what Ralph couldn’t, give the boys meat. When Ralph is unable to do and give what the boys need, Jack was able to do what Ralph couldn’t. Jack uses the voice of the boys to turn himself into a leader that rivaled Ralph. When the boys were afraid of a made up beast, Ralph just said that they were immature and it is just a figment of their imagination. But what Jack does is that he gives a more practical reassurance by saying that they will hunt the snake “But if there was a snake we'd hunt it and kill it. We're going to hunt pigs to get meat for everybody. And we'll look for the snake too--”(28). He says that they will hunt the beast, if there is one, which Jack knows there isn’t. While doing so, he reinforces the idea of hunting for meat. On top of being able to provide them with food, Jack could give them entertainment. "Who'll join my tribe and have fun?"(116). Jack is able to provide the boys with momentary joys, meat and entertainment.

In the end, both leaders clashed and Jack emerged victorious with the rest of the boys on his side. And yet, both leaders, Ralph and Jack, showed many qualities of a leader. Ralph was able to create an orderly, civilized society, with the help of Piggy. His main intention is to get the boys rescued and keep an orderly society. Meanwhile, Jack was able to give the boys what they want, but his intentions were selfish and cruel. Yet, he gave provided the boys with what they needed and pulled them over to his side. Both Ralph and Jack were good leaders, but in different ways.

Overall Impression

This book, written by William Golding, constantly brings up different aspects of human nature. More specifically, it shows the contrasts between civilization and savagery. Many readers are shocked when the children lose their innocence and are able to become cold-blooded savages that kill other human beings. Golding depicts this different part of human nature that people do not see with the rise of civilizations and rules. The author shows that even though humans have evolved into a more civilized species who are able to maintain stable societies, there is still traces of savagery left within humans.


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