Lord of the Flies

by: William Golding

War, and the future of mankind

1

“So they had shifted camp then, away from the beast. As Simon thought this, he turned to the poor broken thing that sat stinking by his side. The beast was harmless and horrible; and the news must reach the others as soon as possible.”

Simon discovers that what they thought was the beast is only a dead paratrooper. This beast is both “harmless and horrible,” which points to the fact that, while it is no fanged monster like the boys thought, it’s still a threat as a reminder of the instability and violence that exists in the world beyond the island.

2

“Didn’t you hear what the pilot said? About the atom bomb? They’re all dead.”

Golding places the action of his novel directly after a detonation of an atomic bomb. By doing this, he ties his story to real geopolitical problems, making his story a prediction of what future societies would look like after global war. The boys are unable to rebuild civilization, and fall quickly into savagery.

3

“And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.”

The novel ends with Ralph’s hopes for fairness and civility destroyed, as he realizes that what he experienced on the island betrayed something fundamental about the darkness inherit to all mankind. He rightly realizes that people like Piggy – individuals averse to violence, and prone to thoughtfulness – have no place in any future social order. This is why Ralph weeps: because what he saw on the island was a microcosm of the world at large.


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