Literary Questions On Lord Of The Flies

Essay, Research Paper

II.A.Discuss the protagonist of Lord of the Flies in terms of flatness or roundness. What purposes are served by his flatness, if any? Discuss any two minor characters in similar terms. For each, justify the degree of flatness or roundness in terms of the character s contribution to Lord of the Flies.

Ralph, a charismatic twelve year old boy is the protagonist in William Golding s Lord of the Flies. The author describes him as being “fair haired” with “the body and shoulders of a boxer” while still having a “mildness about his mouth and eyes that proclaimed no devil.” These facts immediately tell the reader that Ralph represents good in this novel. Because of Ralph s positive qualities he is chosen leader of a group of boys on an uninhabited island. Ralph knows the difference between right and wrong and is willing to act as the absent adult figure. He knows that the children could not survive without rules so he makes up a list of rules based upon common sense. It is Ralph s job to lay down rules and organize some type of society on the island. Throughout the novel we see many changes in Ralph s character since he is always in conflict with Jack Merridew, the novel s antagonist. These many changes put Ralph into the category of a round character, one who is more human as opposed to a flat character who is one dimensional. Ralph s contribution to The Lord of the Flies is his representation of law and order or an organized society.

Simon is an introverted boy who cannot speak in front of the assembly. Golding describes him as being “a small skinny boy” with “a pointed chin, bright eyes and a broad forehead.” He is also described as being “darkish in color.” All the boys think he is “batty.” He says and does strange things. However, he is the only boy who learns the truth about the beast. Because of his strangeness he is killed. Simon s flatness of character is demonstrated by his childhood innocence and goodness in the novel. There was no need for Golding to make Simon s character round since he helps develop Ralph s roundness of character.

Roger, another minor character whom Golding describes as “a slight boy whom no one knew” with an “intensity for secrecy” and a “gloomy face which had the unsociable remoteness into something forbidding” is a pure killer. Roger is a sadist who lives to hunt and kill. His character represents evil and wrongness. Roger s pure evilness helps the reader to identify Ralph s strong desire for law and order. His flatness of character demonstrates a contrast in characters or a battle of good versus evil in the novel. Roger exists in this novel strictly to represent evil.

II.B.1. Evaluate the moral stature of the protagonist: To what extent is his moral stature defined by contrasting minor characters, by the testimony of characters who are readily acceptable as witnesses?

Ralph, the protagonist, represents law and order and organized society. He makes rules based upon common sense for all the boys to follow. His moral stature is defined by some of the minor characters in the novel.

Piggy is a short, overweight boy who wears glasses. Similar to Ralph, Piggy also knows right from wrong. However, he does not stray from this idea as Ralph sometimes does. Without Piggy it is very possible that Ralph may have lost sight of everything and given in to the beast or Jack s tribe. Piggy represents order and democracy.

Roger, another minor character, is a sadist who enjoys to hunt and cause pain. He is the one who eventually kills Piggy because he knows that Ralph depends on Piggy for guidance. Since Roger is Jack s right-hand man, he is feared by Ralph. Roger represents evil, wrongness and anarchy, a total contrast to Ralph.

II.B.2Discuss the protagonist s inclinations to specific virtues and vices, his powers or handicaps with relation to these virtues and vices, and one or two important actions by which his moral stature is apparent.

Ralph had a strong belief in rules, regulations and a desire to be rescued. Ralph s moral stature is apparent when he gets very angry at Jack and his group of hunters for leaving the fire unattended and later to die out.

Jack and his hunters return to the burned out fire while Ralph awaits them. Jack is extremely proud of his kill although Ralph is not so impressed saying “the smoke is more important than the pig, no matter how many you kill.”

II.C.1.What are his dominant traits or desires? How did these traits or desires apparently originate? Do they support or oppose one another? Explain.

Dominant traits exhibited by Ralph, the protagonist, consist of the ability to think rationally using common sense and his sense of order. His main desire on the island is to maintain a civilized and orderly life until they are rescued.

These traits and desires can all be traced back to his upper-middle class upbringing in England where he attended private schools and this type of behavior was normal. The upper class English believe in keeping traditions and living an orderly and civilized life. These traits and desires support one another because he carried over his life style from England to the island and these traits came naturally to Ralph.

II.C.2.Through what modes of awareness is he most responsive to life rational, instinctual, sensory, emotional, intuitive? Illustrate. Discuss the way in which he takes hold of an emergency. In what terms does he see his problem? What does he maximize or minimize, try to prove or disprove? Do his reactions proceed through definite phases? If so, what are they? How may one explain his effectiveness or inadequacy in taking hold of this emergency?

Throughout the novel, Ralph s decisions are based upon his rational thinking and the use of his instincts. Examples of his rational thinking are shown when he found the conch shell and used it to call the other boys on the island to a meeting; instructed the boys to keep the fire burning to guarantee a rescue; and his struggle to maintain civilization and order on the island. His reasoning ability is evident when he reminds the boys that “there are no adults on the island and we need to survive by ourselves.”

Instinct is defined as the preservation of life. Ralph uses his instinctual abilities when he separates the boys into specific groups with jobs such as hunting, building shelters, keeping watch of the fire and exploring the island. Ralph establishes rules for everyone to follow since his instincts tell him that they cannot survive without them.

Ralph s reactions proceed through two definite phrases. In the first phase, Ralph establishes an organized society with everyone having a specific job and having it done in an orderly fashion. In the second phase, law and order almost comes to a stop as Jack begins to gain power. Although Ralph still instinctively knows what is needed on the island to maintain law and order, he finds himself thinking as uncivilized and savagely as the other boys. Ralph is ineffective in dealing with the uncivilized life on the island. He realizes that all order and civilization is now gone and gives up trying to maintain an organized society. He realizes that without law and order, the human race cannot exist.

II. D In view of all the matters above, what does the author apparently wish one to think and feel about what happens to the protagonist.

The author apparently wishes the reader to feel one specific way about the protagonist, no matter what happens to him. In Lord of the Flies, William Golding wishes the reader to feel sympathy towards Ralph. Near the end of the novel, while Jack and his tribe were chasing Ralph with intent to kill him, Golding repeatedly uses the terms “savage,” and “savages,” in the description of the Jack and the rest of the boys and continually refers to Ralph as “desperate.” This makes the reader feel sympathetic for Ralph. However, the reader cannot feel this way for long because Ralph soon meets with a naval officer and it is now known that Ralph as well as the other boys are now safe and rescued from the island.

A. II. E. Is the personality of the protagonist worked out with probability andconsistency? Why or why not?

The personality of the protagonist is worked out with consistency and probability. Ralph s personality went from being extremely confident and slowly progressed to being unsure and not knowing what to expect. The author has done an excellent job developing Ralph s personality to a point where I was able to predict the probable ending of the novel before the actual ending took place.


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