Lord of the Flies
Children all over the world hold many of the same characteristics. Most children are good at heart, but at times seem like little mischievous devils. Children enjoy having fun and causing trouble but under some supervision can be obedient little boys an d girls. Everybody, at one time in their lives, was a child and knows what it is like to have no worries at all. Children have their own interests and react to different things in peculiar and sometimes strange ways. For example, children are enchanted with Barney and his jolly, friendly appearance without realizing that he is actually a huge dinosaur. In the novel The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, one can see how children react to certain situations. Children, when given the opportunity, wo uld choose to play and have fun rather than to do boring, hard work. Also, when children have no other adults to look up to they turn to other children for leadership. Finally, children stray towards savagery when they are w! ithout adult authority. Therefore, Golding succeeds in effectively portraying the interests and attitudes of young children in this novel. When children are given the opportunity, they would rather envelop themselves in pleasure and play than in the stresses of work. The boys show enmity towards building the shelters, even though this work is important, to engage in trivial activities. Af ter one of the shelters collapses while only Simon and Ralph are building it, Ralph clamours, "All day I've been working with Simon. No one else. They're off bathing or eating, or playing." (55). Ralph and Simon, though only children, are more mature a nd adult like and stray to work on the shelters, while the other children aimlessly run off and play. The other boys avidly choose to play, eat, etc. than to continue to work with Ralph which is very boring and uninteresting. The boys act typically of m ost children their age by being more interested in having fun than working. Secondly, all the boys leave Ralph's hard-working group to join Jack's group who just want to have fun. The day after the death of Simon when Piggy ! and Ralph are bathing, Piggy points beyond the platform and says, "That's where they're gone. Jack's party. Just for some meat. And for hunting and for pretending to be a tribe and putting on war-paint."(163). Piggy realizes exactly why the boys have gone to Jack's, which would be for fun and excitement. The need to play and have fun in Jack's group, even though the boys risk the tribe's brutality and the chance of not being rescued, outweighs doing work with Ralph's group which increase their chance s of being rescued. Young children need to satisfy their amusement by playing games instead of doing work. In conclusion, children are more interested in playing and having fun than doing unexciting labor. When children are without adults to look to for leadership, they look for an adult-like person for leadership. At the beginning of the novel, when the boys first realize they are all alone, they turn to Ralph for leadership. After Ralph calls the first meeting, Golding writes, "There was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance, and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had sat waiting for them." (24). The b oys are drawn to Ralph because of his physical characteristics and because he had blown the conch. The fact that there are no adults has caused the boys to be attracted to Ralph as a leader. The physical characteristics of Ralph remind the boys of their parents or other adult authority figures they may have had in their old lives back home. There is also the conch that Ralph holds which may remind the boys of a school bell or a teacher's whistle. Finally, at the end of the! novel, the boys turn to Jack to satisfy their need for some much-needed leadership. When the boys are feasting on the meat of a freshly killed sow, the narrator says: Jack spoke 'Give me a drink.' Henry brought him a shell and he drank. Power lay in the blown swell of his forearms; authority sat on his shoulder and chattered in his ear like an ape. 'All sit down.' The boys ranged themselves in rows on the grass before him. (165) Jack now has full authority over the other boys. The boys look to Jack for his daunting leadership which intimidates them. Jack is very forceful and his ways most likely remind the boys of authoritative figures in their pastwho may have strapped, beaten or used other forms of violence when disciplining the children. Therefore, the children when left without adult authority figures turn to others who can replace that adult authority figure. In addition to seeking adult-like authority figures, children lose their innocence and stray towards savagery when not around adult authority. When the boys have been on the island for a short time, they start to show more violence, but when they realiz e what they have done they become contrite, embarrassed by their actions. After Maurice destroys Percival's sandcastle and some sand gets in Percival's eye, the narrator writes: Percival began to whimper with an eyeful of sand and Maurice hurried away. In his other life Maurice had received chastisement for filling a younger eye with sand. Now, though there was no parent to let fall a heavy hand, Maurice still felt unease of wrongdoing. (65) Maurice has hurt Percival but feels bad about it because in his past life he would have been punished for it. Without adults, Maurice is turning towards barbarianism but has not been away from the order and discipline of his previous life to be considere d a savage. Children misbehave when not around adults because there is no one to discipline or punish them. Yet, for a brief time after the children have been away from adults, the children will feel remorseful. Also, after the boys have been absent fr om structured discipline, they become blatant savages and retain absolutely no innocence. When Piggy and Ralph visit Castle Rock to get back Piggy's glasses, Golding says: Roger, with a sense of delirious abandonment, leaned all his weight on the lever. The rock struck Piggy. Piggy fell forty feet and landed on his back across that square across that square red rock in the sea. His head opened and stuff came out and turned red. (200) Without apprehension, Roger performs the horrible and violent act of killing Piggy. Roger has now been without adults to discipline him for quite a long time and his actions have become more intensely brutal. The boys have been unpunished for so long tha t they continually become more and more violent and thus, have made the final step to becoming all out savages. Typically, children are reprimanded for their misbehavior and as they mature, what is right and what is wrong becomes embedded in their brains to the point where they almost never stray towards uncivilized behaviour. Clearly children can quickly forget what is right and what is wrong, especially when being away from adults for an extended period of time, often resulting in a loss of innocence. Lastly, at the end of the novel when around the naval officer arrives, the boys return to their old ways of being orderly and civilized. When Ralph is chased onto the beach by Jack's tribe and finds the naval officer, the na! rrator says, "A semi-circle of little boys, their bodies streaked with coloured clay, sharp sticks in their hands, were standing on the beach making no noise at all." (221). The previously wild savages are now quiet little boys in an orderly semi-circle. With the arrival of an adult authority figure from the outside world, the boys are beginning to return to the decorum of their innocent, more childlike past. The boys are in a semi-circle instead of in a pack of savages, they are coloured with clay ins tead of gaudy war-paint, they are holding sticks instead of spears and they are absolutely as quiet as they would have been around adults in their previous lives. Children are usually more ordered, disciplined and civilized under adult supervision just as the boys are the instant they see the naval officer. To summarize, when not around adult order, discipline and punishment, children become very much like savages and lose most of their innocence. In conclusion, in the novel The Lord of the Flies, Golding succeeds in showing the actions, decisions and thinking of young children. Children would choose to play and have fun rather than work. When children need to look for leadership and there are n o adults around to provide this, children look for another child who has adult-like qualities for leadership. Children are disobedient, violent and lose their innocence when there are no adults to supervise them. A child's life is a long and winding roa d in which they can be sidetracked quite easily.