Lord of the Flies: A Thought on War

One of Sam Weber’s illustrations for the Folio edition of Lord of the Flies.

”Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart”

After reading Lord of the Flies,I was left totally flabbergasted.All the same,I could not point to what in the book had such an effect on me.I let one night elapse and woke up today with more lucid thoughts.

The function of a dystopian work,I believe,is to debunk a utopian notion held by the majority of us.In this light,the substantial success of Lord of the Flies as a dystopian novel corresponds to the degree to which it is disturbing.For Lord of the Flies does not simply tells us that,left on his own,one inevitably goes back to a primitive state – something which we are all aware of.No,Lord of the Flies goes beyond that.It tells us that the devil lurks inside us.Us,and not the children alone.

When Samneric,Piggy and Ralph are left behind,they start yearning for the competent ways through which grown-ups would have settled all the issues on the island.I can imagine how Golding was grinning when writing this scene.Are grown-ups really heroes? Would they fare any better if left on the island?In fact, Golding hints at what he thinks about adults in the novel.The animosity between the two clans is a micro-representation of the war that backdrops the story.Indeed,the conflict on the island results in Simon and Piggy’s deaths while the war,I surmise,has a harrowing death toll that amounts to several millions,among which is the death of the pilot whose corpse lands on the island.

The revelation of the ‘Lord of the Flies’ to Simon is at once one of the most petrifying scenes in the story and its most determining moment.“There isn’t anyone to help you. Only me. And I’m the Beast. . . . Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! . . . You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are the way they are?”.‘Beelzebub’ is said to mean ‘Lord of the Flies’,and Golding’s statement that the devil resides in us is nothing short of disturbing.Shortly after the revelations are made,we witness how Jack and most the other boys let themselves consumed by the beast lurking in their inner selves.Their degeneration culminates with the murder of Piggy and the hunting of Ralph.However once they see the naval officer,the savages immediately become little kids once again.

Hunting and killing are two fundamentals of war,and if we follow Golding’s logic,those who wage war are as consumed by the Lord of the Flies as Jack and his clan.But,unlike the children,the war wagers do not have an authority to look up to;there is nobody who can put an end to their ‘game’.Thus,in a way,wars are the manifestations of the devil lurking inside humans,of ‘the darkness of man’s hearts’ and of ‘the loss of innocence’.A gruesome observation it is,but that is the conclusion we are led to after reading  ‘Lord of the Flies’ .

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10 thoughts on “Lord of the Flies: A Thought on War”

  1. The thing about something like Lord of the Flies is that it’s so built on unmasking things like Ballantyne’s The Coral Island, a 19th century boys’ adventure book that is one of LOTF direct pieces of inspiration, where all the adventure was so mitigated, so focused on making sure everything comes out alright in the end. But in the dystopia there can be no “alright.”

    I’ve always loved this book. Golding’s words can be so chilling, and it works so well as a societal critique.

    1. Yep!
      Golding’s range of vocabulary is so broad that he can either send chills up your spine or make you wish you were on the island to witness its beauty.

      Thanks for commenting!! 😀

  2. “But,unlike the children,the war wagers do not have an authority to look up to;there is nobody who can put an end to their ‘game’.”
    Maybe they do have some authority to look up to,look up to God.

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