Lord of the Flies--Sense of Order

Topics: English-language films, Civilization, Peter Benchley Pages: 5 (1792 words) Published: October 14, 2010
With reference to Lord of the Flies, discuss how the sense of order deteriorates on the island in the course of the novel. Support your views with examples.

In the book, various symbols are used to represent the establishment and the gradual fall of law and order on the island. The most important characters and symbols to be considered in this case are probably Piggy, Piggy’s glasses and the conch. The deterioration of the sense of order on the island is not caused by a single event, but is a step-by-step process that is marked by several milestones.

I believe that the development of the sense of order on the island can be divided into three main stages.

In the first stage, the boys were conscious of the need of order in the society, and attempted to establish law and order on the island. It begins when Piggy discovers the conch, and advises Ralph to use it to call a meeting. It ends with Jack’s breaking one of the lenses on Piggy’s glasses. When the boys just arrived on the island, their memories of the civilised world were still fresh and clear, and they tried to re-create an orderly society by replicating the adult world. Imitating the elections in the real world, they held an election for the chief, and to establish ‘laws’, Ralph, the chosen Chief set up rules on the island, for example, if the boys wanted to speak, Ralph will ‘give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he is speaking, and he will not be interrupted, except by’ Ralph himself. In this stage, the two important symbols that represent law and order—Piggy and the conch—were introduced. Piggy, one of the first characters that appear in the story, is the person who was the most conscious of the need of social order and the most determined on setting up an orderly society on the island. Even from the very beginning, Piggy insisted that ‘We got to find the others. We got to do something.’ stating his wish for organization and order on the island. Later, it was also Piggy who discovered the conch, and he realizes that "We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting". The conch was the object used to call for assemblies, an act of organisation and order; and it also granted the boys the right to speak in an orderly manner. The conch represents the fragile system of law and order that the boys tried to create, and its status and physical state actually reflects the status of social order on the island. At this stage, the two important symbols—Piggy’s glasses and the conch—were in good conditions. Piggy’s glasses were in the hands of their rightful owner, and the conch, fresh from the water, was still glistening and beautiful. The good conditions of these objects show that the sense of order on the island was still intact. Although some of the boys, especially the littluns, were not always able to obey the rules and carry out orders because of the lack of self-control and responsibility, the sense of order was there in their minds, making them guilty for disobeying rules and orders, and restraining them from doing ‘bad’ things. For examples, when the boys realised that the fire on the mountain got out of control and probably killed one of the littluns, all because they were not keeping watch as they were supposed to, they felt guilty and shameful. When Ralph and Piggy gave talks on the incident, ‘the crowd was as silent as death.’ Such shows that the boys did understand and agree with the need of having and following rules and orders. This sense of order can also be shown when Roger, a bigun, was throwing stones at Henry, a littlun. Roger did not really dare to throw stones onto Henry, but only at a safe distance. Somewhere in his mind, ‘invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of … the law.’ However, as days went by, memories of the old days faded away; and on the island, without real fearful authentic figures, without punishments or penalty for disobeying the orders and...
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