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Reflections On Society In Literary Works

1384 words - 6 pages

In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s I Only Came to Use the Phone and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies characters experience dehumanization through isolation from society. While some might believe that Marquez and Golding use the trapped characters’ actions to criticize society, they are actually doing the opposite. All immoral behavior done by characters in these literary works are done in the absence of society, showing that the authors are actually portraying society as the stabilizing element of our morality, and the structure of our humanization. Without society, for characters like Maria, Jack, Roger and Ralph, the essence of humanity is lost and the line between man and beast blurred.
In the beginning of both stories there is still a great presence of society. In Lord of the Flies, directly after the plane crash the boys set up a mini society on the island. The vote for a leader and choose Ralph, much like we do in society today. The text even states that “This toy of voting was almost as pleasing as the conch” (Golding, 22). This of course shows how the boys crave and choose structure and civility over chaos and anarchy… at first. Voting is something that we do in a democratic society and the conch itself is a symbol of democracy and order. Both of these things please the boys, which demonstrate that the structure of society is keeping them human and civilized. Another example of society’s impression on the boys comes from Jack and the choir, ironically the people who will end up the most savage. When they first arrive on the beach, Golding describes them as “a party of boys, marching approximately in step in two parallel lines.” (Golding, 19) and “Wearily obedient” (Golding, 20). Golding makes sure to accentuate the proper behavior of these boys and how out of place it seems on a wild island, isolated from society. However, over time the boys will start to lose these qualities as the dehumanization process begins.
In the beginning of I Only Came to Use the Phone the main character, Maria is torn away from society almost as quickly as Ralph, Jack, Piggy and the rest of the boys. She is mistakenly taken to insane asylum after only asking to use the phone. Marquez states, “After two months Maria had not yet adjusted to life in the sanatorium” (Marquez, 83). After two whole months of living in isolation from society, she is still maintaining parts of her own morality and character. The best example of this is when the night matron comes on to Maria every night, and Maria refuses. This is not something that she would do in regular society, and even in the absence of that society, she is refusing. This choice keeps her personal integrity intact which is what keeps her human.
In both stories, after a while the mini societies and personal integrities of the characters start to break down in the absence of a real society. In Lord of the Flies this dehumanizing process starts with Jack. After a short time he starts to defy the mini...

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