Lord of the Flies

William Golding
Main Ideas

Themes

Main Ideas Themes

But the character of Simon suggests humans can resist their inherently violent tendencies. The only boy who never participates in the island’s savagery, Simon has the purest moral code and is able to remain an individual throughout Lord of the Flies. While the others consider him weak and strange, Simon stands up for Piggy and the littluns, helps Ralph build the shelters, and provides thoughtful and insightful assessment of their predicament. Simon recognizes that the beast is not a physical beast, but perhaps the darkness and innate brutality within the boys themselves. After a terrifying conversation with the Lord of the Flies, Simon recognizes the paratrooper as a symbol of fear and the boys as agents of evil, and runs to tell the others. But Simon is never able to properly explain this to the other boys before they beat him to death in a frenzy of excitement and fear.

Dangers of mob mentality

Lord of the Flies explores the dangers of mob mentality in terrifying scenes of violence and torture. Early on, the boys sing “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood,” after a successful hunt, elevating their shared act of violence into a celebratory chant. By coming together as a mob, the boys transform the upsetting experience of killing an animal into a bonding ritual. Acting as one group, the boys are able to commit worse and worse crimes, deluding one another into believing in the potential danger posed by the beast justifies their violence. Similarly, the boys use warpaint to hide their identities as individuals, and avoid personal responsibility. Ralph, Piggy and Samneric both fear and envy the hunters’ “liberation into savagery.” Their desire to be part of the group leads to voluntary participation in the ritualistic dance and brutal killing of Simon. The mob’s shared irrational fear and proclivity toward violence results in a devastating act of ultimate cruelty.

War and the future of mankind

Set during a global war, Lord of the Flies offers a view of what society might look like trying to rebuild after a largescale manmade catastrophe. In their attempt to rebuild society, the boys cannot agree on a new order and eventually fall into savagery. Ralph comes to realize that social order, fairness and thoughtfulness have little value in a world where basic survival a struggle, such as after a devastating war. The paratrooper who lands on the island reminds the reader that while the boys are struggling to survive peacefully on the island, the world at large is still at war. Even in their isolation and youth, the boys are unable to avoid violence. In their descent into torture and murder, they mirror the warring world around them.