Society is the chain that binds people and keeps them orderly and respectful. In The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, the results of a world without society or organization are manifested. Civilization is needed in order to suppress the innate cruelty and savagery in every human being.
The conch and signal fire show the boys’ attempts at sustaining an island civilization, but these symbols lose their power as civilization itself loses power over the boys. The large conch shell summons the boys scattered over the island after the plane crash. It becomes a symbol for civilization and effectively governs and maintains order at the boys’ meetings. As Ralph says, “‘I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking. [Ã¢Â?Â¦] And he won’t be interrupted’ ” (25). The conch keeps the boys in order. However, as the boys descend into savagery, the power of the conch wanes, because civilization is no longer important to them. The destruction of the conch under a boulder is a symbolic end to the island civilization the boys create. The conch means democracy, which symbolizes civilization. In an effort to sustain the island civilization, the boys use a signal fire in addition to the conch. In one of the meetings Ralph calls with the conch he says, “We want to be rescued [Ã¢Â?Â¦] [and] we can help them to find us [Ã¢Â?Â¦] we must make a fire” (29-30). Ralph proposes the idea of a signal fire in order to attract passing ships to be rescued. The signal fire symbolizes a hope for rescue and a return to civilization. When Jack lets the fire goes out and disregards its importance, the signal fire symbolizes the boys’ abandonment of their hope of being rescued; it is no longer important to most of them. When the fire goes out, the boys’ desire for civilization is also extinguished. The boys sustain their island civilization with objects that symbolize the elements that create a civilized society and remind them of civilization; as the symbols are destroyed, the boys forget about society and the island civilization crumbles.
Civilization forces the boys to cooperate and restrains their innate savage impulses. When the boys first arrive on the island, they have been heavily conditioned by society. When Roger is throwing stones at Henry, there was a circle “perhaps six feet in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Roger’s arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of himÃ¢Â?Â¦.” (52). Roger dared not throw his stones within three feet of Henry due to the mark of civilization. Roger’s innate cruelty is being restrained by society, because “round the squatting child [Henry] was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law” (52). Henry, in Roger’s mind, is still being protected by civilization. At first Jack, too, retains the morality imprinted on him by society, which is apparent when he tries to kill the first pig. “Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½I was just waiting for a moment to decide where to stab him’ [Ã¢Â?Â¦] They knew very well why he hadn’t: because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh” (23). At first, Jack is unable to kill the pig due to the atrociousness of committing murder. Civilization has conditioned the boys to restrain their animalistic cruelty.
Ralph struggles to keep the island in order, but Jack and Roger instill fear into the boys and unleash savagery and anarchy onto the island. As the mark of civilization slowly disappears, the boys’ innate savagery manifests itself when coaxed by Jack. Jack is the representative of savagery and violence. Jack desires power among all things and is furious when he loses the election for chief to Ralph. Jack gives in to bloodlust and savagery when he becomes obsessed with hunting and killing a pig to make up for his first failure. Eventually, Jack becomes so savage he consciously tries to kill Ralph by burning him alive in the forest. While Jack represents animalistic brutality. Roger represents torture, pain, and cruelty. Roger is Jack’s most trusted tribe member and delights in the torment of others. Roger is even more feared than Jack by Sam and Eric. “Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½You don’t know Roger. He’s a terror.’ Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½And the chief-they’re both-‘ Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½-terrors- ‘ Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½-only Roger-‘” (171). Jack leads the boys in their bloodlust and cruelty, but Roger is first to kill, when the boulder down the cliff at Piggy. Roger and Jack overwhelm the civilized conditioning of the boys by bringing out the cruelty and viciousness within them.
Jack manipulates the boys using their fear, a primal instinct. The littluns claim to have seen “something big and horrid moving among the trees” (73). The boys’ various nightmares about a monster are eventually summed up as one monstrous creature they all believe in and fear which they call the Beast. Naturally, the boys look for some form of protection and seek a leader who can provide it. Fear is a primal instinct and the boys look for someone who appeals to those instincts – Jack. Jack manipulates and controls the boys using the Beast, a summation of the other boys’ fear. He realizes that the Beast is not real and exploits the boys’ fear to gain power over them. Jack then leads them to hunt: “Jack leapt on to the sand. Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½Do our dance! Come on! Dance!’ [Ã¢Â?Â¦] Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!’ ” (134). Jack declares the Beast the enemy of his tribe and kindles hatred among the boys for the Beast. However, Jack also establishes the beast as an idol by leaving the pig’s head, or Lord of The Flies, impaled on a stick as an offering to the beast. The pig’s head is evil, and the boys’ fear and Jack’s manipulation of their fear creates evil and savagery and drives the boys to abandon the conch and signal fire, symbols of society.
Civilization is the only rein that is restraining humans from degrading into violent savages. Golding lends an insight into human nature and a glimpse of the possibilities of a world without order. As the realization that humans are savage at heart dawns, Golding gives a valuable insight into human nature and issues a stern warning of the dangers of humanity.