Alyssa DubéMr. BoersenENG 2D20/12/2017ISP: Lord of the FliesThe Influence of AdultsINTRODUCTIONWhen lightning strikes, who is it that a child will run to? When a child is injured, who is their emotional support? A child will always run to a parental figure, during a time of danger or unhappiness, because parents become a main safety zone for a child. What would happen to civilization if their “safety zones” are no longer in the picture? Without parents there is a lack of leadership, and knowledge of how to lead a civilized life. There is no one for adolescents to turn to during times of need and hardship. The only emotion left is fear, which will take over the child, and influence many of their decisions. Thus, due to an absence of parental figures, these problems cause children, such as the boys in William Golding’s “The Lord of the Flies”, to become uncivilized. In this novel, a group of British boys are stranded on an uninhabited island as they have disastrous attempts to govern themselves, since there are no adults on the island. Throughout the story there is a loss of control within the boys’ society, as they struggle to cooperate as a coherent society, resulting in an eventual loss of order. Overall, adults are seen as a symbol of order for the boys on the island, a symbol which they, unfortunately, completely lose control of. During the novel this absence of adults is significant; affecting the boys social aspects, behaviour, and development drastically. SOCIAL ASPECTS: SOCIETY BUILDINGIn “Lord of the Flies”, immediately when the boys find themselves stranded on a remote island, they begin the task of building a rough approximation of their parent’s society and attempt to create a utopia. As readers know, a society is characterized by rules, roles, and activities that identify the group of people of which it is comprised. The boys are left alone, trying to recreate the adult world, but this attempt is predestined to fail. Without having an actual adult example nearby to follow, the boys are not skilled and developed enough to successfully rebuild a mature society. Due to the absence of adult example, the boys begin to compare themselves to their parental figures at home; “I dunno, Ralph. We just got to go on, that’s all. That’s what grownups would do.” (William Golding) “We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?” (William Golding) The boys, episcally the more matured children like Ralph and Piggy, begin asking themselves; what would the grownups do? The real question remains; should they be rebuilding the society which they came from, or start one which identifies with their youth? Without that guidance of adults, the boys are unable to successfully recreate the society of their parents. This absence of adult figures leads to many unanswered questions, and thus leading to chaos on the island. Many of the problems on the island include; the extinguishing of the signal fire, the lack of shelters, and the mass abandonment of Ralph’s camp, which all stem from the boys’ inherent commitment to a principle of self-interest over the principle of community. That is, the boys would rather fulfill their own individual desires than cooperate as a coherent society, which would require that each one act for the good of the group. The concept of individualism and community are shown through Jack and Ralph. Jack wants to “have fun” on the island, while Ralph wants to ensure the group’s rescue, a goal that can only be achieved through cooperation. Although, Ralph’s vision is the most reasonable, it requires work on the part of the other boys. Nevertheless, the boys quickly halt their societal duties in favor of achieving their individual desires. Thus, the shelters do not get built because the boys would rather play, and due to this, the important signal fire is extinguished when the hunters forget to tend to it. Without the guidance of adults, the boys are unable to see what is right from what is wrong. They no longer have their moral compass, which was once the adults in their lives. Overall, although the boys tried to mimic the adult’s society, they lacked the life experience needed to maintain a functioning, stable society and resolve conflicts. Therefore, they needed to rely on a real adult to rescue them and ultimately restore order in their lives. SOCIAL ASPECTS: SOCIAL INTERACTIONSDuring the novel, the children ironically fall into war, following the pattern of the fighting adults, outside the society of the island. As the novel continues, readers learn that even though the boys are free from the structures of civilization and are able to create a new peaceful society, they too descend into savagery. As the boys break off into sections, some behave peacefully; working together to maintain order and achieve mutual goals, while others rebel and seeking only power and violence. The interactions between the boys represent the basic human struggle between the civilizing instinct; the urge to obey rules, behave morally, and follow laws, and the savage instinct; the urge to seek power over others, act selfishly, ignore moral rules, and become violent. The interactions of the children, reflect those of the adults, but now, due to the absence of parents, the boys do not acknowledge that what they are doing is wrong. By living in an unstable society, the boys became dramatically violent to each other personally and collectively. The reason for the boys disagreements is the loss of adults who represent civility, reason, and the conforming to societal rules. Once they are absent the boys have no order in their lives, which results in chaos and conflict between the boys. SOCIAL ASPECTS: SOCIAL ROLES AND GOVERNMENTThroughout the novel, the boys’ are trying desperately, yet ineffectively, to establish and maintain order. Through this goal, the purpose and jeopardy of government remains relevant and significantly important. As the naive, inexperienced boys try to mimic the social organization that they think would reflect the adult world faithfully, they learn about the foundations of government. The boys’ government within the island is created out of necessity: they identify a leader, select symbols that give their society significance, establish rules, and attempt to fulfill their basic human needs, while maintaining relationships with one another. Although all of these activities mirror the society from which they have become alienated—a society experiencing its own collapse due to war—the boys are ultimately unsuccessful in maintaining a walkable and livable microcosm. Readers learn in “Lord of the Flies”, that institutions and norms will only have meaning and will only be effective if the people who make them and the citizens who agree to them are truly concerned about the greater good of that society. When the boys find themselves stuck on the island, they immediately decide to impose order amongst themselves in a setting that is clearly without order. The boys believe that if each can be assigned and fulfill a particular role, they will survive on the island until someone comes to look for them. The boys elect a leader, Ralph, and although, he does show particular promise, they fail to evaluate whether he possesses the leadership qualities necessary to function effectively long term. They make their decision to elect him as their leader based on a single act. “They obeyed the summons of the conch, partly because Ralph blew it, and he was big enough to be a link with the adult world of authority….” (William Golding). What Ralph represents symbolically is more meaningful to the boys at this point than his actual skills. Over time, they will come to regret this decision. In “Lord of the Flies” Ralph is said to be an official leader since he is the one, who inspires and guides the rest of the boys. Jack, however, is eager to be a leader as well, since he is willing to rule the island, on the principles of fulfilling the boys’ individual desires, rather than Ralph’s rescue inclined societal duties. The two boys see each other as a threat to the dynamics of leadership and power in the novel. The functioning government that the boys began with fails, because they acted too hastily, and were insufficient in the knowledge of government. They elect a boy who appears to be the most mature to replace the absence and wisdom of adults. Had an adult been on the island, perhaps they would have created more effective societal habits, and the role of the leader would not have been challenged. BEHAVIOUR: ETHICSDuring childhood, children often learn rules, as well as the differences of right and wrong through “testing the waters”. This means that children tend to see how “bad” they can be until an adult telling them to stop. Thus, wrongs and rights are first introduced through the guidance of a parent. In “Lord of the Flies”, the testing of waters is clearly shown, as the boys adapt to living within a society without the restrictions adults hold. This is shown when they stop performing their important duties, like watching the fire, to go do other activities. It is later learned that as the boys slowly stop doing their survival necessary tasks, they lose important boundaries, which leads to them becoming barbaric and savage like. Without adults, there is a lack of the support, comfort, and boundaries needed to lead a civilized life. In the novel, the boys do not have an adult to tell them that they are going to far, as they become ritualistic and animalistic; losing sight of order and falling to chaos and murder. Thus, they are unable to see what is right, and what is wrong. Important virtues such as integrity, honesty, and empathy are lost, due to the absence of adults. The boy’s parents are now unable to guide their ethics, and because of this, all civilization within the island is lost. BEHAVIOUR: DECISIONSThroughout the novel, fear guides the boy’s decisions. During their first weeks on the island, the hopes of survival are the boys’ main influences on their decisions. The things they act, do and say are caused by their anticipation of survival. Although this influence is strong, the influence of fear is stronger. Through the introduction of the beast, fear begins to guide the boys’ every decision. After gaining this fear, the children lose sight of what is important. The boys’ fear of the beast takes over their sanity. Ralph says, “I was chief, and you were going to do what I said. You talk. But you can’t even build huts–then you go off hunting and let out the fire–” (William Golding). This shows that the boys are so afraid that the beast was real that they stop watching the rescue fire so that they can hunt down the beast; they forget about their only means for rescue to hunt a self-created fear. The children forget about their original plans and become sidetracked. They do not have parents to comfort them and return them to their correct trains of thought. Without parents to comfort them, fear takes over the children and they begin to lose hope. The boys give up. One boy complains to Ralph, “You’re no good on a job like this.” (William Golding). They harp on each other in an uncivilized manner, leading to a loss of any hope they had of survival. The boys do not have parents to comfort them and keep them sane. With no one to protect them from their fears, the children become uncivilized. Also, when children talk amongst themselves, it increases and spreads the fear. The boys have a group discussion about the beast. They say, “So this is a meeting to find out what’s what. I’ll tell you what’s what. You littluns started all this, with the fear talk. Beasts!” (William Golding) After having the meeting, every boy has an opinion about the beast. To every boy the beast is either real, or just a myth. They end up crazed because their fear takes over and they cannot think in a civilized way. However, parents, with more knowledge and less imagination, would relieve the children of their fears by explaining that the children are safe and nothing is out to get them. Children trust what parents have to say. Fear controls a child’s decisions. With fear in the way, there is no room for logical thought. DEVELOPMENT: INTELLECT Children do not understand how to lead a civilized life, nor do they understand the importance of one. The boys do not find it important to live in a civilized manner. Jack begins to wear face paint, explaining, “(It’s) For hunting. Like in the war. You know–dazzle paint.” (William Golding) Wearing face paint is uncivilized, yet the boys enjoy wearing it. The only task the boys are concerned about is hunting. Building a shelter never passes through their mind. Besides Ralph and Piggy, none of the boys understand why these tasks are necessary and therefore resort to easier ways of living: hunting and sleeping in the sand. The boys do not have parents to explain that shelters are the only way to protect themselves from the natural elements. The children do not know the meaning of civilization. Therefore, naturally they become uncivilized, because they do not have parents to look ahead into the future and show them the importance of a civilized life. Also, children do not know what is needed or necessary to live a prominent life. The boys do not see the importance of a rescue fire. They do not put the fire before the rest of their work. Jack says, “The fire’s only been out an hour or two. We can light up again–“. (William Golding) Thus, the boys do not understand why this is necessary and therefore dismiss it from their mind. They do not see into the future to realize that without one, their only future is the island. In a civilized life with parents, children have every necessary object already laid out for them, provided by their parents. They do not have to worry about where they will sleep at night or what they will have for dinner. They just grab a snack, and then crawl into bed. When dropped off on a deserted island, they no longer have the essentials they need, and do not know how to create them in order to be civilized because in the past the essentials were always just there for them. Also, children are not aware of true danger. The boys do not realize the seriousness of their situation. Jack says, “Look! We’ve killed a pig–we stole up on them–we got in a circle–.” (Golding) The boys hunt without worrying if they will be attacked by an unknown tiger lurking in the jungle. They never stop to think that their fate will be death if a boat does not happen to sail by. Children do not understand the trouble they create for themselves; they stretch their boundaries as far as they will go before snapping, without ever thinking of the danger involved. Without parents to set rules and guidelines the children will inevitably become uncivilized because a civilization revolves around its rules and guidelines. In conclusion, children will not be civilized without parental figures because it is the parental figures who give them the knowledge of how to be civilized.DEVELOPMENT: LEADERSHIP First, leadership is one of the most important aspects of a good civilization. Unfortunately, without parents, leadership does not exist. One of the main reasons why a group of children will never be civilized is because children do not know how to be leaders. In the book, the children feel that they are all equal to one another. They do not know, nor do they have the skills one needs to become a leader. Before reaching the island, the parents were their leaders; they told the boys what to do, how to do it and when it should be done. Now, without them, there is no one knowledgeable who can lead the boys into civilization. The boys’ only other option is to become uncivilized – a way of life that comes naturally to young boys with no boundaries. Children cannot lead a civilized life without adults who have the knowledge to show the children exactly what a civilized life is like. Also, because peers are not respected as leaders, the boys become unable to respect each other. Also, children do not elect leaders accurately. In the story, the boys on the island vote for Ralph spontaneously. The boys announce, “Let him be chief with the trumpet-thing.” (Golding) They elect Ralph for one reason -because he has the conch. Children see elections as popularity contests. They do not understand that they must choose the person who will accomplish the most and help to contribute to a more civilized life. With parents, the best man for the job is chosen, a true leader: An adult’s election is not just another “I have the most friends” competition. It is clear that every civilization must have a leader. However, the most likely people capable to become true leaders are mature, experienced, and knowledgeable adults. CONCLUSIONThroughout “Lord of the Flies”, adults are seen as a symbol of order for the boys on the island. This is an important symbol which the boys completely lose control of. Readers learn through this novel that an immature child left alone in the wilderness will inevitably become uncivilized. This will occur because children do not know how to create a functioning society for several reasons. The most important and significant factor being the absence of adults which affects the boys social aspects, behaviour, and development. Children will become uncivilized when there is a lack of parental figures. The role of adults in Lord of the Flies was order, and without them, order completely collapsed on the island. Without adults and order, our world and society could become just like the one portrayed on the island in “Lord of the Flies”; completely savage.