, Research Paper
Throughout William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies there is an ever-present conflict between two characters. Ralph’s character combines common sense with a strong desire for civilized life. Jack, however, is an antagonist with savage instincts, which he cannot control. Ralph’s goals to achieve a team unit with organization are destroyed by Jack’s actions and words that are openly displayed to the boys. The two leaders try to convince the boys that their way of survival is correct.
They continue this desire for control while turning down each other’s decisions and ideas. The back and forth conflicts of opinion are what makes life chaos on the island. These conflicts are illustrated in two fashions; the dialog between the boys, and the authors narration. Assuming that the boys are philistines, their language is therefore not very articulate. They are trying to appear important and popular with the group. The boys have a feeling of wanting to belong, which is the basis of all philistines’ actions. The author’s narration makes up for this. The narrator has a more realistic view of what is happening on the island, and says to the reader what the boy’s language fails to do.
The boys are drawn away from a civilized way of living. Comments made by Ralph and Jack show the boys that Jack is resorting to savagery. Ralph and Jack both agree in the beginning while they are reasoning in a civil manner. Throughout the novel the two leaders stray from one another because of differences in motivation. Jack told the boys “We’ve got to decide about being rescued” (Golding 20). This statement illustrates Jack’s civilized concern for the whole group. Jack seems to put the group before him. This unselfish concern soon dissolves as the internal beast prevails over the civil Jack. “I ought to be chief because I’m chapter chorister and I can sing C sharp” (Golding, 21), displays Jacks own arrogance. However, the narrator has more insight into this power struggle, “This toy of voting was almost as pleasing as the conch” (Golding 21). The narrator sees this act of voting through the boy’s eyes. The narrator implies the boy’s failure to understand the importance of a leader.
After the boys accept Ralph as chief, Ralph gives power over the choir boys to Jack. “The choir belongs to you, of course” (Golding 21). Ralph’s unselfish act of giving Jack rule over the choirboys is a way of keeping peace between the two groups and between Jack. However, Ralph does not state this. The narrator draws this conclusion by displaying the emotion in Jacks face. “The suffusion drained away from Jack’s face” (Golding 22).
Ralph and Jack explore the island. Even during this the reader sees how the power struggle between Jack and Ralph can not be verbalized, but the narrator can articulate it for the reader.
” ‘You cut a pig’s throat to let the blood out,’ said
Jack, ‘otherwise you can’t eat the meat.’ ‘Why didn’t you–?’ They knew very well why he hadn’t: because the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood” (Golding 29).
This passage indicates the boy’s inability to convey their fears. As philistines they want to seem knowledgeable and tough to the other boys. However, as the narrator states, deep down they are fearful and uncertain.
Ralph insists on building a signal fire. Ralph gains the support of the boys. The boys immediately run to the top of the mountain to gather firewood. Jack later belittles the fire and feels that hunting for meat is more important. Jack is only thinking of their present problems. Ralph is looking for solutions to long-term threats. Ralph knows “we need hunters to get us meat” (Golding 31). Jack and the choir quickly accept this responsibility. Ralph informs the boys in a meeting that “there aren’t any grownups,” and they “have to look after themselves” (Golding, 31). Ralph displays a concern for the group to work as one. Without a group unit working together, the boys will fall apart. In some aspects Jack does mean well for the group. He does, however, show signs of his savagery. “We’ll have rules! Lots of rules!” (Golding, 31). Jack shows that he understands the necessity for order. Jack then adds, in his savage way of thinking, “then when anyone breaks ‘em…” (Golding, 31). Jack is aware of the need for organization in the group but then threatens the boys. Jack’s motivations and intentions are all wrong. Jack starts to lose his civilized attitude as the inner bestial instinct, which he cannot suppress, begins to prevail. In this case, the use of the boy’s language displays their innermost feelings. The need they have to punish others.
Again Ralph’s quest for an organized, stable group is displayed in his statement “we can’t have everybody talking at once” (Golding, 31). Ralph has identified a major problem. Through Ralph’s strong leadership skills and past experiences, he suggests “having ‘Hands up’ like at school” (Golding, 31). Ralph logically puts a group such as a school class, which has some organization, into the current situation. The boys also use the conch but it starts to be disliked by Jack. The power given to Ralph when he possesses the conch is overwhelming to Jack. When everyone in the meeting is yelling out different stories of deserted island adventures, all Ralph has to do is wave the conch, and silence is restored. Had Ralph just said “Be quite please,” he would have been ignored. This use of limited language would not be beneficial to the boys. However, as the narrator points out, “Ralph waved the conch,” symbolism prevails, and the narrator has conveyed it to the reader (Golding 32).
Jack strives for power in other ways. Jack feels he gains power and control by taking power and order from Ralph. “Jack held out his hand for the conch” (Golding 32). This act displays Jack’s understanding of the power held within the conch. But again, he can not articulate this; the narrator gives it to the reader.
Another example of the narrator’s insight into the boy’s language occurs when they start the fire on the mountain. Piggy has noticed that the little boy is gone who mention the beastie. “Piggy stood up and pointed tot he smoke and flames. A murmur rose among the boys and died away. Something strange was happening to Piggy, for he was gasping for breath” (Golding 43). This passage indicates that something is wrong with Piggy, perhaps it is his asthma, or his horror. However, he can not articulate it, and so the narrator does it for the reader.
The boys in the novel Lord of the Flies are very young, and as Nabokov suggests, philistines. They are philistines “because the child or the adolescent who may look like a small philistine is only a small parrot” (Nabokov 309). Therefore, all children are philistines until they are old enough to decide for themselves. Due to this the boys language is very limited because of their inexperience with the English language, and because they feel the need to keep up a fa?ade to be excepted. The narrator therefore clarifies the boy’s emotions. The narrator articulates these emotions for the reader, so the reader can better understand the situation the boy’s are in.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. Wideview/Perigee Books,
Nabokov, Vladimir. Lectures on Russian Literature. 1981