A Study Of The Disregard For Civilization In Lord Of The Flies By William Golding

1800 words - 7 pages

Civilization is the condition that exists when people have developed effective ways of organizing a society. In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the characters Ralph, Piggy and Jack are liable for the disregard for civilization at the end of the novel. Piggy is accountable for the lack of civilization because he makes excuses for the other boy’s savagery. He places too much faith in what society should do and, although he complains about the boys’ reckless behaviour, he does nothing to stop it. Ralph is responsible because he makes the mistake of giving Jack power; he is unable to control the other boy when Jack starts to become savage and he is prone to fleeting lapses in self-control. Jack is responsible because he blatantly disregards the “rules” of the island. He forcibly takes items from the other boys - namely Piggy and Ralph - and he focuses on satisfying his immediate needs, instead of thinking of the future. The complete disregard for civility at the end of Lord of the Flies is a result of the three main characters’ inability to see things from a perspective different to their own.
Piggy is liable for the disregard for civilization because he would rather complain about the mistakes that the other boys are making than try to correct them. He comes up with excuses for savage acts committed by the boys, instead of accepting them for what they are. In chapter ten, when Ralph mentions his and Piggy’s participation in the murder of another boy, Simon, Piggy defends them by saying that “it was an accident […] he [had] no business crawling like that out of the dark. He was batty. He asked for it” (Golding 173). Instead of accepting that he and Ralph participated in Simon’s murder, and confronting the other boys with the truth of what they did, Piggy justifies their actions, blaming Simon’s death on the boy’s strange behaviour. Piggy’s denial of his part in Simon’s death prevents him from speaking out and trying to keep the other boys from committing similar atrocities. Piggy places too much faith in what society should do; he expects that the rest of the boys on the island will act proper and civilized, as society dictates they should. In chapter eleven, Piggy speaks to the rest of the boys, asking whether they’d rather be civilized or savages:
“Which is better –to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is?”
A great clamor rose among the savages. Piggy shouted again.
“Which is better –to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?” (Golding 200)
When asking the other boys what they’d rather be, Piggy expects them all to agree with him, and choose being civilized. He has been brought up in a world where everyone is expected to be civilized, and he believes that the boys on the island, despite their savage behaviour, still want to be a part of civilized society. Piggy’s inability to comprehend that the other boys no longer want civilized society leads him to keep trying to reason with them, which only serves...

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