Setting in “Lord of the flies”
Stranded on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific, a group of English boys is forced to learn to survive without the protection and support of an adult figure.
Characters in “Lord of the flies”
The first two characters we see on the island are Piggy and Ralph, two boys, who will assume roles that will seal their fates.
The first will be the voice of reason, which all of us, at times, refuse to listen. The second will be the leader, one that every group of people needs, no matter the circumstances or the environment.
Ralph and Piggy are the first of the boys stranded on the island.
One by one, more boys appear from under the trees, each one more lost and frightened than the next.
Johnny, Sam, and Eric and some other small boys whose names are not revealed.
They are so lost and helpless that they seek a protective hand, one that can make the decisions for them, while they enjoyed their childhood.
They are not capable of making decisions, but they are capable of belonging to a group, any group for that matter, that can help them survive.
They all seem peaceful and understanding of each other, realizing the importance of belonging and togetherness at such an early age.
As it turns out, there is another group on the island, lead by Jack Merridew. It’s a group of older boys, who seem organized and well adjusted. Standing tall and proud, boys like Maurice, Robert, Harold, Roger, will be the supporting party of Jack Merridew.
They will become the hunters, knowing no rules or allegiance except the one dictated by their strength over the others.
The action in “Lord of the flies”
Paradoxically, the island is a unifying element in the story, one that should determine the boys to work together in order to serve a higher purpose, that of getting rescued.
However, the longer they spend time on the island, the clearer it becomes that their unity is an illusion. Their worth will be determined by the groups to which they belong.
Ralph takes his role as a leader seriously. Even though he is young of an age, he shows a great sense of organization when he builds shelters for rainy days. He makes sure a fire is built and kept on burning to make sure a rescue party sees them.
Jack does everything that’s in his power to defy the elected leader and be the one, who sets the priorities on the island.
To him, there is nothing more important than hunting, which he feels, gives him a great advantage over the other.
Two leader figures, two different personalities, two opposite courses of action. One strives for unity and cooperation, while the other strives for chaos and despair.
Two boys seem to strive to hold the two groups together:
- young Piggy, who always seems to be the voice of reason at every turn,
- the older and quieter Simon, who comes and goes, always leaving, yet, always present, bringing news, moving things from the shadows, coming and going, but keeping an open eye and mind, working for them all and for himself, at the same time.
No matter the age, egos come alive and take the place of reason.
The innocent jungle becomes a battleground, where the leadership position is questioned and fought for, where anger takes place of reason, and instinct takes place of companionship.
The battle shifts quickly, from them against nature to them against each other. Destinies are destroyed, words are spoken, anger escalates. Innocence is long forgotten, and violence takes its place. Just as adversity brings out the best or the worst in people, so does the situation they find themselves in does.
On the one hand, we have the tyrant, on the other the leader. On the other hand, we have violence, on the other we have unity. Back and forth we go between the two groups and two trains of thought, between cruelty and violence to kindness. Is one stronger than the other? Does one prevail over the other?
Rescue comes, but at a cost, that, for some, is too hard to bear. It’s that final moment of clarity that brings about regret and remorse.
“Lord of the flies” is a voyage from childhood to adulthood on the battleground that is life.
It reminds us that human nature has no age and that no matter how young and innocent we are, life has a strange way of sneaking up on us and, whether or not we are prepared, we have to deal with whatever it throws at us.
It’s also a reminder that we are never alone and the best way to get through hard times is only with the help and support of other people.
This post contains an affiliate link. This means I get a small fee, at no cost to you. For further information, please read our disclaimer.