“What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages?”

As a young boy I recall both reading and going to see the film The Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It’s a story I’ve never forgotten and one which in many ways relates to parts of the world in which we live; a wonderful planet that offers us so much, yet for many this passes unseen. I could argue all day and every day about the reason why this might be. Perhaps a good education is a part of the answer.

Rather than me trying to expand upon the book; I’m simply going to offer it as food for thought and refer you to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_the_Flies#Background

The Plot

“The book indicates that it takes place in the midst of an unspecified nuclear war. Some of the marooned characters are ordinary students, while others arrive as a musical choir under an established leader. Most (with the exception of the choirboys) appear never to have encountered one another before. The book portrays their descent into savagery; left to themselves in a paradisiacal country, far from modern civilisation, the well-educated children regress to a primitive state.

At an allegorical level, the central theme is the conflicting human impulses toward civilization living by rules, peacefully and in harmony—and toward the will to power. Themes include the tension between group think and individuality, between rational and emotional reactions, and between morality and immorality. How these play out, and how different people feel the influences of these, form a major subtext of Lord of the Flies.”

There are of course many published quotations from the book not least of which is the one I quote below and which is explained very well, see http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/flies/quotes.htmlin

“Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law.”

“This passage from Chapter 4 describes the beginnings of Roger’s cruelty to the littluns, an important early step in the group’s decline into savagery. At this point in the novel, the boys are still building their civilization, and the civilized instinct still dominates the savage instinct. The cracks are beginning to show, however, particularly in the willingness of some of the older boys to use physical force and violence to give themselves a sense of superiority over the smaller boys. This quotation shows us the psychological workings behind the beginnings of that willingness. Roger feels the urge to torment Henry, the littlun, by pelting him with stones, but the vestiges of socially imposed standards of behaviour are still too strong for him to give in completely to his savage urges. At this point, Roger still feels constrained by “parents and school and policemen and the law”—the figures and institutions that enforce society’s moral code. Before long, Roger and most of the other boys lose their respect for these forces, and violence, torture, and murder break out as the savage instinct replaces the instinct for civilization among the group.”