Death and Social Collapse in Lord of the Flies

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The Death and Social Collapse in Lord of the Flies

Man’s relationships with death are themes often used in literary works to depict mankind’s spiritual, emotional, and social weaknesses. Sometimes authors use the theme of social collapse to interpret how the relationships of characters begin to wear off, which is also shown in William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies, where he further enhances his theme by his portrayal of death and the crumbling structure of civilization. It is evident that Golding illustrates the theme of death and social collapse by demonstrating the concepts of the demise of characters, collapse of governments and loss of civilization on the island.

As the novel progresses, the demise of characters becomes more prominent once there is a significant decline in morality on the island. The death of the mulberry-marked boy is the first of several events that ultimately lead to the destruction of society. During the unintentional forest fire that occurred due to the boy’s irresponsible actions, Piggy noticed, “That little’un had a mark on his-face-where is-he now? I tell you I don’t see him” (Golding 47). This demonstrates that the death of this mulberry-marked boy resulted from the inexperience of Ralph and Jack as leaders and foreshadows the evil to come. They boy’s unfortunate end serves as a reminder of guilt for Ralph, who does not notice that the child is missing until Piggy notifies everyone. The mulberry-marked boy’s death signifies a weakening of the newly formed societal structure on the island and predicts further instability. Simon’s death indicates the fear of the beast which is held within the boys. As the beast approached from a distance, the boys chanted, “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood! ... The littluns screamed and blundered about, fleeing from the edge of the forest, and one of them [breaks] the ring of biguns in his terror” (Golding 168). Simon is one of the few on the island with the capability to recognize the beast for what it really is. Simon is brutally murdered due to the fact that he was mistakenly profiled as being the beast. Simon’s tragic end displays the theme of death through the fear of the beast within the stranded boys. Piggy’s death illustrates the complete collapse of humane society on the island. As Roger intentionally releasing a wedged stick underneath a boulder, Golding further illustrates, “The rock [strikes] Piggy [with] a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch [explodes] into a thousand white fragments and [ceases] to exist… Piggy [falls] forty feet and [lands] on his back across that square, red rock in the sea” (200-201). When the boys kill Piggy, they basically destroy their only hope of extended survival on the island. His death further reveals the elimination of social order and the increasing influence of evil. Roger murders Piggy purely for entertainment, once again illustrating the decline in humanity; for he was the only civilized thing left on the island. Therefore, the demise of characters is a theme which Golding uses to further extend the plot.

The author exposes the collapse of government once the boys begin acting like savages and neglecting authority on the island. Ralph begins to worry that if the conch is disregarded even once, hell will break lose on the island. When the meeting begins to erupt into chaos, Ralph states, “If I blow the conch and they don’t come back; then we’ve had it. We shan’t keep the fire going. We’ll be like animals. We’ll never be rescued” (99). Ralph is worried that if he blows the conch and the boys fail to return, it will eliminate the hope of maintaining rules and authority on the island. He feels that if the boys ignore the call of the conch even once, they will ignore it permanently. This event shows the collapse of authority that is beginning to take place on the island. The boys’ missing their chance of rescue demonstrates Jack’s selfishness and disloyalty. After the ship is out of the...
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