Civilization vs. Savagery

Lord of the Flies Allegory: Civilization vs. Savagery Every human has a primal instinct lying within them. It is not a question of how close to the actual surface it dwells, but rather how well an individual controls and copes with it. In a state of prolonged anguish and panic, what is one truly capable of? Can one remain sophisticated or will the temptation of their dark subconscious take over, bringing out the barbarianism which exists in us all? William Golding’s Lord of the Flies explores this inquiry through an allegory represented by a group of boys who have been marooned on a deserted island, with no surviving adults.

Lord of the Flies has been interpreted and analyzed in several different manners; scholars have derived that the allegory of Civilization vs. Savagery is among the strongest interpretations based on considerable supporting evidence. Ralph represents reason and leadership while Jack is savagery and the hunger for power. Lastly the conch represents authority and order. In the Civilization vs. Savagery allegory Ralph is part of civilization. He represents reason and leadership. While on the island it was Ralph who first gathered everyone on the beach.

It was there that he was elected chief and he established their society. He runs a democracy where everyone votes on issues and he is willing to take everyone’s opinion into consideration. He believes that as long as they stay civilized they can easily survive, live in harmony, and eventually be rescued. “We’ve got to have rules and obey them,” (Golding, 42). Ralph insists on having rules on the island and at first Jack agrees with him although his jealousy for Ralph’s power drives him to constantly undermine and disobey Ralph and his requests.

By blowing the conch Ralph can call a meeting whenever he likes, to discuss issues and give orders. “Ralph sat on a fallen tree trunk, his left side to the sun. On his right were most of the choir; on his left the larger boys who had not known each other before the evacuation; before him the small children squatted in the grass,” (Golding, 32). Ralph’s leadership skills enable him to have great power over the boys. They politely sit and listen to him, obeying the rules of never interrupting the person holding the conch.

Ralphs traits of understanding and individualism make him an ideal leader who upholds his former British society’s rules and standards. He is the only one who cares about the well-being of everyone by building shelters and starting the signal fire. He holds the society together and without him it would crumble. Jack is the total opposite of Ralph. He represents savagery and the hunger for power. In a world where evil easily corrupts ones soul, it is Jack who eventually prevails and overthrows Ralph. Jack steadily progresses into becoming a full savage throughout the novel. I thought I might kill,” (Golding, 51). Jacks first encounters with the pigs are developmental. Physically he is capable of hunting them down, but mentally he is still chained down by the shackles of civilized society. However eventually he lets go of his old ways and lets his primal instincts surface in order to hunt his prey. Jack also pines for Ralph’s position as chief. He tries to manipulate people into questioning Ralph’s orders and not listening to Ralph at all. “A fire! Make a fire! At once half the boys were on their feet. Jack clamored among them, the conch forgotten. “Come on! Follow me! ” Jack uses the children’s excitement to his advantage egging them on instead of telling them to listen to Ralph. He wants Ralph to have no power at all and by taking advantage of these situations he succeeds. Jack is selfish, manipulative, and savage. He kills without thinking twice and will do anything to become chief including killing Piggy and destroying the conch. The Conch is imperative to uphold civilized society on the island. It was discovered by Ralph, who blew it to call all the survivors to a meeting.

It became a symbol of authority and greatly influenced why Ralph was elected chief. The conch represents authority and order. “We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They’ll come when they hear us,” (Golding, 16). Ralph uses the shell the call meetings and it keeps order because of the rule that when a person is holding the conch they cannot be interrupted. When Jack destroys the conch it symbolizes the total destruction of society and resulting in all out chaos. “See? See? That’s what you’ll get! I meant that! There isn’t a tribe left for you anymore! The conch is gone. “He ran forward, stooping. ‘I’m chief! ’” (Golding, 181). Now that Ralphs source of power has been destroyed there is nothing to stop Jack from being chief. The conch was the only thing holding Jack back, for people still obeyed it. In conclusion, Ralph as reason and leadership, Jack as savagery and power hunger, and the conch as authority and order are an important make up of the allegory of Civilization vs. Savagery. Ralph brings the boys together but gives them all their own power. Jack reverts to savagery and wants all the power for his own and the conch gives Ralph the power to remain chief.

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