Lord of the Flies and World War Ii

Topics: World War II, World War I, Cold War Pages: 5 (1752 words) Published: December 13, 2007

Many things such as social and political environments can impact literature. British involvement in WWII directly influenced Golding's novel, Lord of the Flies. As all authors use their life and times as reference points in their works, Golding drew heavily on sociological, cultural, and military events. Lord of the Flies is an allegorical parallel to the world, as Golding perceived it. The island, the boys, and many other objects and events described in his work represent Golding's view of the world and humankind in general. He specifically incorporates characteristics and values reflective of the British culture. "…The war taught me different and a lot of others like me," Golding said in the New Republic (Davis 28-30). Golding was referring to his experiences as captain of a British rocket-launching craft in the North Atlantic. He was present at the sinking of the Bismarck, a German battleship, and participated in the D-Day invasion of German occupied France. He was also directly affected by England's devastation as a result of the German Air Force that severely damaged the nation's infrastructure and marked the beginning of a serious decline in the British economy. Wartime rationing continued well into the postwar period. Items like meat, bread, sugar, gasoline, and tobacco were all in short supply and considered luxuries, which is exemplified in Golding's work. Golding's writing reflects significant personal life experiences. Golding spent two years as a science student at Oxford University before he left this field to pursue a degree in English Literature. This was his first step toward rejecting scientific rationalism, a philosophy in which his father believed. Having joined the British Royal Navy when World War II began, Golding was involved in the invasion of Normandy on D-Day. After his military experience, he became a schoolteacher. For fifteen years he frequently read the Greek classics because, according to him, "this is where the meat is."(Davis 28-30) He felt that Greek drama had a great influence on his work.

Drawing from Golding's own life experiences, Lord of the Flies investigates three key aspects of the human experience that form the basis of the themes the author wants to convey. The first is the desire for social and political order through parliaments, governments, and legislatures, which represented by the platform and the conch. The second is natural inclination toward evil and violence, demonstrated in every country's need for a military, which is represented by the choir-boys-turned-hunters-turned-murderers, and in the war going on in the world beyond the island. The third is the belief in supernatural or divine intervention in human destiny, which is represented by the ceremonial dances, and sacrifices intended to appease the "beast", as well as Simon's Jesus-like allegorical references. By juxtaposing the evil, aggressive nature of the boys with the proper and civil British behavior that their cultural background implies, Golding places the boys in a series of life experiences that lead some, like Jack, deeper into their corrupt psyche, and others, like Ralph, who recognize the tendency toward evil in themselves, to suddenly realize the person they were meant to be. This awareness is the only hope for humankind to choose good over evil.

Golding wrote Lord of the Flies in 1954, less than a decade after World War II, when the world was in the midst of the Cold War. The atrocities of the Holocaust, the horrific effects of the atomic bomb, and the ominous threat of the Communist demon behind the Iron Curtain were all present in the minds of the Western public and the author. This environment of fear combined with technology's rapid advances act as a backdrop to the island experiences: the shot-down plane, for example, and the boys' concern that the "Reds" might find them before the British do.

Historically, in times of widespread socio-economic distress and fear, the general...

Cited: Douglas A. Davis. "A Conversation with Golding," New Republic. May 4, 1963. pp. 28- 30.
Ellis, John. The World War II Databook: The Essential Facts and Figures for All the Combatants. London: Aurum Press, 1993.
"English literature." Britannica Student Encyclopedia. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 21 Feb. 2007 .
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Capricorn Books, G.P. Putnam 's Sons, 1954.
Henningfeld, Diane Andrews. "Overview of Lord of the Flies." Exploring Novels. Gale Research, 1998. Gale Student Research Center, November 2006.
Dilson, Jesse. The Historical Encyclopedia of World War II. Ed. Marcel Baudot. New York: Facts on File, 1980.
"William Golding." Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volume 44. Gale Research Group, 2002. Gale Student Research Center, February 2007.
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