Golding’s Dark View of Human Nature

By Christina Z., 9th Grade

April 2019

Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a novel in which a group of boys is stranded on a deserted island and are forced to self govern and be self-sufficient. William Golding suggests that humans tend to follow those in power and lack the moral courage to stand up for those who are hurt.

Throughout Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Ralph and Piggy, as well as the entire group of boys, begin to obey Jack as he is powerful, which illustrates the human habit of following others who are dominant. On the night of Simon’s death, “The hunters were looking uneasily at the sky, flinching from the stroke of the drops. A wave of restlessness set the boys swaying and moving aimlessly… ‘Do our dance! Come on! Dance!’ He [Jack] ran stumbling through the thick sand to the open space of rock beyond the fire… and the boys followed him, clamorously” (Golding 193). Fearful of the weather and flinching at the rain, the boys decide to follow Jack’s commands, demonstrating people’s natural desire to submit to someone of a higher status. In addition, the boys do not recognize the absurdity of dancing in the rain, which reveals their herd-like mentality. Though Ralph and Piggy refuse to join Jack’s group, they are drawn to the meat. After the feast, “Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take place in this demented but partly secure society. They were glad to touch the brown backs of the fence that hemmed in terror and made it governable” (Golding 152). Despite knowing how Jack leads the boys, through torture and fear, both Ralph and Piggy are driven by an impulse of belonging, even if the group is controlled by a vicious murderer. The boys are terrified of the storm, but even more so of the beast, whose existence they have created themselves. Ironically, the boys are seeking protection from Jack, who is the most savage and beast-like of them all. After Simon’s death, Jack continues to lead his group of hunters through fear. He says, “‘We’ll kill the beast and give a feast… And about the beast. When we kill we’ll leave some of the kill for it…We’ll go into the forest now and hunt.’ He turned around and after a moment they [hunters] followed him obediently” (Golding 168). Jack gives continuous orders to the group without listening to their responses, yet the hunters still follow him ‘obediently’, demonstrating a human tendency towards following someone who is commanding.

Both the pigs and the boys are tormented and killed during the novel, yet no one stands up against this injustice, revealing the natural lack of moral courage in humans. After the horrifying death of Simon, Piggy refuses to believe that he, along with the other boys, should take responsibility for the murder. Instead, Piggy pushes the blame away from himself. He declares, “‘It was dark! There was that–that bloody dance. There was lightning and thunder and rain. We was scared!” (Golding 199) Piggy makes numerous excuses for Simon’s death. He does not have the bravery and honesty to bear the responsibility. Others, like Sam and Eric, have the same mindset as Piggy. When the boys are discussing the night of Simon’s death, “Sam touched a scratch on his forehead and then hurriedly took away his hand. Eric fingered his split lip” (Golding 201). Sam and Eric, the only big kids who had stayed with Ralph and Piggy, both have injuries from that night, yet both of them claim to have left early. Sam quickly takes away his hand so that others wouldn’t notice, which demonstrates his fear and unwillingness of bearing the responsibility and the truth. On the other side of the mountain, Jack tells the boys it was the beast that they had attacked. The hunters are “half relieved, half-daunted by the implication of further terrors…” (Golding 204). Despite knowing the truth and worried about Simon’s death, the boys choose to follow Jack’s words, glad to not feel accountable for Simon’s death.

Golding portrays humans as evil savages, following others in power and lacking the moral courage to stand up for those who are hurt. Although there are power hungry individuals, the majority of people are truly compassionate. People like Simon do exist and they don’t necessarily meet a tragic end. For instance, in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus, a lawyer who fights for a black man’s life, is well known and liked by everyone in the town because he is a naturally courageous person. Atticus is thoroughly honest and says, “‘I can’t live one way in town and another way in my home’” (Lee 314). These words demonstrate that Atticus is not a person with hidden intentions. Instead, he is someone who stands up for injustice. His character illustrates that kind people do exist and though their lives aren’t perfect and sometimes things don’t go their way, they manage to challenge the prejudiced views of others.