Lord of the Flies: Intelligence and Good vs. Evil

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Good versus evil is a common concept used often in storytelling, writing, plays, movies, etc. the basic story line is commonly used and developed to mold different ideals, meanings, and lessons into different types of works. William Golding’s novel the Lord of the Flies falls into this category of works with the good versus evil story line. Boiling the novel down to its most basic state it is a story of a group of boys. They all start out in a state of innocence, then as they adjust to their new surroundings after being stranded on a deserted island with no adults; they chose whether or not they turn from their innocence. When the boys turn from their innocence they go from being good to evil, or as the interpretation of this novel is commonly perceived the boys go from being civilized boys to savages. It is in this sense that civilized and good can be used interchangeably for this interpretation, and the same for evil and savagery. Golding puts an interesting twist to this basic plot right in the beginning of the story. Golding takes the story from just a simple tale of good versus evil to good versus evil with competing ideas of intelligence. Right in the beginning of the novel we see these ideas of intelligence take form. As the story builds the differences in the types of intelligence grows and becomes more distinct. From there the competition of good versus evil begins.

After their plane crashes the boys who were on the plane to escape the warfare in England are scattered on the island. Ralph, the first boy we are introduced to meets another boy named Piggy. “It’s a shell! I seen one like that before. On someone’s back wall. A conch he called it. He used to blow it and then his mum would come. It’s ever so valuable-“(15). With Piggy’s help Ralph uses the conch they found to call out to the other boys on the island. This is the first hint at the two types of intelligence. Piggy is already exhibiting signs of natural intelligence. This type of intelligence is developed based on the sensory analysis of the surroundings. This intelligence is more advanced and enables Piggy to think in more civilized, advanced ways. He is immediately made fun of for his appearance and as the story progresses is mocked as a know-it-all. No one listens to Piggy, even though the conch and the meeting were his ideas no one realizes this, nor do they care. Once all the boys are gathered together there is a vote on who should be chief. A boy named Jack is introduced as the leader of the choir boys and he wants to be chief, but when put to a vote Ralph is elected. Ralph does give the choir to Jack and asks what they would like to be. Jack tells Ralph that he and his choir shall be the hunters. Ralph depicts more social intelligence. Ralph knows how to work a crowd, how to lead a group, and how to gain respect. “Everybody must stay round here and wait and not go away. Three of us- if we take more we’d get all mixed, and lose each other- three of us will go on an expedition and find out” (23-24). This act showed that Ralph was able to get the attention of the boys at any time and that the boys would actually listen to him. His ability to be able to accomplish this as quickly as he did really shows his true social intelligence. “If a ship comes near the island they may not notice us. So we must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire” (38). Ralph does show some natural intelligence as well, but not nearly as much as Piggy exhibits. Jack also shows a form of social intelligence. He is able to keep command over his choir and they listen to him no matter what. This shows that in the beginning of the story even though the boys are all different, have different types of intelligence, and have mixed feelings about the situation they are still united together as a whole.

“All day I’ve been working with Simon. No one else. They’re off bathing, or eating, or playing” (50). The boys begin to slack and begin to realize that there aren’t...
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