Lord Of The Flies Breakdown Of Civilization Essay

Breakdown Of Society "Lord Of The Flies"

"When a nation goes down, or a society perishes, one condition may always be found; they forgot where they came from. They lost sight of what had brought them along." This preceding quote, said by Carl Sandburg, helps people to understand why deterioration of a society occurs. When a civilian, or a country forgets their background or morals, they are unable to demonstrate constraint towards what they would refrain from immediately under normal conditions. These unusual conditions can be the cause of all deterioration in society. In The Lord Of The Flies when a group of boys are deserted on a remote island, they originally try to follow the societal values in which they learned in their homeland of Britain. Eventually, the boys lost all control over each other and even themselves because they forgot where they came from and what they stand for. The three main stages of societal deterioration seen in The Lord Of The Flies are the failure to duplicate British society, the breakdown of society into two factions, and finally the act of murder.

The initial stage of societal deterioration seen in The Lord Of The Flies is the boys' inability to effectively duplicate British society. The first time this can be seen in during one of the boys' meetings. They are discussing the current situation on the island, and more particularly, the need for rules. Ralph said:

"We'll have rules!" he cried excitedly.

"Lots of rules! Then when anyone breaks' em"




"Doink!" (Golding, 32).

Ralph's obviously ineffective statement caused an eruption of laughter within the boys, which allows the boys to believe that the need for rules is not a serious issue. As leader, Ralph is not placing any consequences on the breaking of rules, therefore, the boys essentially have nothing to fear, and thus, feel free to do whatever they would like. The boys' inability to duplicate British society is seen next when the boys show no concentration towards their assigned tasks. Their lack of follow through is seen when they are split into two groups. One was to make shelters, while the other was to go hunting. Ralph becomes angry because only Simon and himself were working on the shelters, while the rest of the boys either hunted or went swimming. Ralph's anger is shown in the following quote: "You remember the meeting? How everyone was going to work hard until all the shelters were finished?" (Golding, 51). The final factor contributing to the boys' inability to duplicate...

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Civilization is the key to keeping society in order. If many individuals lose this civilized state, the society they are in begins to break down. Ralph, Simon, and Jack are the major problems with the breakdown of their society. Anything done in a community, whether it is multiple actions or nothing at all, can change it for better or for worse. Firstly, Simon is inactive in the social order of the boys and isolates himself from them. Secondly, Ralph has attained leadership over everyone which sets Jack’s leadership off. Ralph tries to bring order to the island which in turn causes a breakdown and defect of a group of boys. Lastly, Jack is the main point that caused their society to breakdown. One of the bigger – but not the biggest – problems in a social order breakdown is people who do not take part in the control.

Simon does not part take in the actions and feud between Ralph and Jack in order to feel that he is not part of it. During the day, arguments usually happen. This is when Simon isolates himself in what he calls his “mat of creepers” (160). He roams around at night causing paranoia among the boys as he appears to be the beast. This activeness at night is to achieve a feeling that he is not changing the society that is trying to be made. When Simon does try to bring forth information and help them, he was killed by the savage boys – “he was murdered” (172) as said by Ralph. This is the first human-related death on Jack’s behalf, the one death that is leading the boys on the island into savagery and a major loss of their civilized state of mind. However, even someone’s leadership can cause people to break from a group and bring downfall to the whole group.

Ralph’s leadership style is one that one boy on the island did not agree with. This caused him to defect from the group and form his own society. Ralph leads with a democratic manner – with safety and rescue – whereas Jack leads with a dictatorship style – with hunting and having everything go his way. When Jack goes, all the boys follow, and this leaves Ralph with nothing forcing him to leave his civilized manner and do what he can to survive. The society is broken when the “savages” (as they are called “when Ralph stared into the savages eyes” on page 220) start to hunt for a human-being instead of a pig. With people who bring the evil ways of living into a civilized group of people, they turn and lose that civilized manner.

Jack represents the evil side of mankind. Jack leads with the way of survival, not rescue. He has lots of power because he instills fear within the boys which allows him to control them. Jack and his hunters do not want to feel guilt for this way of leading or even for the killing. The boys do this by “painting their faces so they wouldn’t see” (59). This is referring to them not wanting their conscience to see that they are slowing bringing their society to a breaking point. When Jack kills the first pig, he feels a sense of pride and accomplishment.

This causes him to lose part of his civilized state to further progress this killing. He then kills a sow with piglets and then a human being – Simon. This killing spree has caused Jack to completed lose his civilized state and is able to hunt Ralph – another human being – without putting any face paint on at all. He then has the ability to kill without feeling guilt or remorse. Societies that face dystopia in their worst time will start to become dismembered and break apart.

Anyone can break from society and cause it to come crashing down. Simon managed to by imputing nothing and furthering Jack’s feeling of completion, Ralph did by being a good leader and pushing Jack away to his own society and Jack did by losing his civilized manner to become a savage. Whether the breakdown is caused by someone being really good, really bad, or even in between, anything and anyone can destroy a society with a simple little action.

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