Civilisation and Savagery in William Golding’s

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“Civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness.” (Werner Herzog) This quote explains and represents the novel, Lord of the Flies in many ways. In Lord of the Flies, written by the Nobel Prize winner William Golding, identity and civilization occur as fragile parts of society. The book was written after World War II, and the aftermath of this event heavily influenced the people, especially the authors and poets.

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Golding wrote the novel based on his own experiences, as he fought in World War II, he was part of the Navy and he was involved in the invasion of Normandy.

He discovered the true nature of humans; he was disappointed in humankind. (Spitz, 22) The novel draws attention to the loss of identity and the transition between civilization and savagery with the help of symbolism. Golding shows a world of violence and moral desolation through his book to the reader. The main conflict is between two characters, Ralph and Jack, who are the representatives of civilization and savagery. Their continuous fighting for power has an effect on the rest of the boys throughout the novel, as they are slowly losing their humanity and they sink further and further into chaos.

The book starts with a plane crashing into an uninhabited island. A group of English boys are the passengers, and the first two characters, who are introduced, are Ralph and Piggy. Ralph is the one who discovers that they are on an island, which is described very appealingly:
“Out there, perhaps a mile away, the white surf flinked on a coral reef, and beyond that the open sea was dark blue. Within the irregular arc of coral the lagoon was still as a mountain lake–blue of all shades and shadowy green and purple. The beach between the palm terrace and the water was a thin stick, endless apparently, for to Ralph’s left the perspectives of palm and beach and water drew to a point at infinity;” (Golding, 6)

The island seems good enough due to the fact that it has food –fruits, pigs to hunt -, trees and shelter. It is possible that it is a biblical symbol for The Garden of Eden. Before the fall of mankind, The Garden of Eden was considered as a paradise, just like the boys considered the island as a paradise, before they ruined it. (Bufkin, 43) As the story develops, they sink further and further into savagery slowly drifting away from the civilized society, and eventually burn down the island. The scar that runs through the island symbolizes how destructive mankind is.
As they are bathing in the lagoon they find a conch, which is the first symbol of civilization.


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