William Golding's allegoric novel, Lord of the Flies illustrates many issues of human society through a group of young, stranded, British boys. The story takes place on an island during World War II. As a result of a plane crash, several young schoolboys are left to survive on their own in an entirely new environment. Left with no other choice but to wait to be rescued, they try to figure out what is necessary to sustain a civilized life similar to the one before. They start out fairly well, demonstrating a relatively democratic and cooperative society. However, as life in the crude territory continues, and the hope for rescue diminishes, the inevitable happens.
Things begin to fall apart. The neglecting of rules and their desire for fun and violence overtake them, ultimately destroying any order or peace they had on the island. Although the novel was written several decades ago, current happenings such as the Columbine shooting show that Golding's views on these issues are valid even to this day. The first and most obvious aspect that Golding points out, are the consequences brought on by a weak government. He places his characters in a completely different environment where civilization is nonexistent, and the only form of authority is in the form of a 12-year-old boy named Ralph. In the beginning, the boys are somewhat pleased with their newfound freedom.
However, this switch in government and society eventually leads to the development of an indifference to rules and civility. It starts out with the conflict between Jack and Ralph. Jack, whose main priority is to keep the group's meat supply steady, and Ralph, whose main priority is to maintain control, argues numerous times in the book. As tension builds up between the two, the arguments grow more serious. At one point, Ralph tells Jack", You " re breaking the rules!" and Jack replies", Who cares?" (p. 91).
This event foreshadows Jack's rebellion against Ralph and the series of events following the rebellion that lead to the final collapse of their society. The collapse is indicated by the destruction of the conch. The conch, which had called the meetings into place and moreover gave the right to speak in one, clearly represented order and law on the island. .".. The conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist" (p. 181). At that moment, it was not only the conch that ceased to exist, but their society's remaining stability as well.
Another major viewpoint Golding emphasizes is the natural desire for fun and violence. Upon arriving on the island, the boys do not realize that this isn't just another one of their playtime fantasies where all they have to do is revert to reality once the fun wears out. They rather see it as a vacation, their own-personal-island-size playground as shown in the quote", This is our island. It's a good island. Until the grown-ups come fetch us, we " ll have fun" (p. 35). Perhaps a bit too much fun seeing that they miss their chance to be rescued early in the novel.
Jack, who is the leader of a group of hunters, develops a rather grotesque passion for killing and hunting. Initially, his main concern was obtaining meat, but as he accomplishes his first victory hunt, he becomes obsessed. All his energy and time is spent preparing and planning his next hunt. One day he decides to take his entire hunting group on a hunt, including the ones who are suppose to watch the fire (which is necessary to signal ships and planes that pass by).
Unfortunately, during the firewatcher's absence, the flame dies and a ship passes by. Ralph, who finds this out, confronts Jack, obviously furious that Jack had put the interest of the hunt before the rescue. Jack responds", The job was too much. We needed everyone...
We needed meat" (p. 71). He uses the ridiculous excuse of needing meat, when if they had been rescued, there would be no need for any. Sadly, even Ralph gives into the natural desires as he participates in the brutal murder of young Simon. Before long, hunting becomes the island equivalent to having fun. When Jack breaks away from Ralph and forms his own tribe, he lures people in with talks of hunting and many feasts. Eventually, everyone on the island aside from Ralph joins and the yearn to be rescued is replaced with the "need" for violence and "fun".
Their savageness leads to the loss of the island, as it burns to ashes, and the loss of their innocence. Society, as of today, in comparison with the island, seems almost flawless. It has a system of law and government, punishment for breaking those laws, and most people abide by them. Yet, this is where the flaw lays. Most people abide by them, not all. There are still a large number of people that choose to ignore this system and commit crime.
Ignorance to such laws unfortunately has the same effect here and now, as it did on the island. Peace is disrupted by chaos. The Columbine shooting of 1999 is a perfect example of how this holds true. Ranked as the bloodiest school shooting in American history, the Columbine shooting impacted the entire nation. Not only did the town have to suffer, but every other state, with the exception of one, had to deal with copycats of this revolting atrocity. This not only reveals that violence still exists in a "civilized" society with rules and structure, it's contagious and lies within everyone, everywhere.
For most, it is dormant. But, all it needs is a trigger. In Lord of the Flies, Jack was the trigger. His overpowering lust for violence and blood, soon spread throughout the island and elicited the beast within everyone.
In Columbine, the gunmen ran around the school, shooting at random and laughing, showing no particular motive other than to have a little bit of "fun". Even though they ended up taking their own lives, it does not justify their inhumane act of violence, and the many that followed attempting to do the same. In Lord of the Flies Golding illustrates a world without rules or limits. Most of the characters give into their innate desires not knowing where to stop, and thus corrupting society. What Golding is trying to express through his metaphorical novel, is that humans, in order to maintain peace and prevent chaos, need laws and a system of government. Furthermore, those laws must be kept and although the system itself is important, individuals have a responsibility to conquer those evil desires within them for the betterment of the human race.
There is no question as to whether a perfect society will ever be achieved. Of course it won't. However, with enough self-control and respect for the rules, there can be improvement. That's about the best humankind can do for themselves.