Ralph, tall, with dark hair, twelve year old, establishes himself as the leader of the boys when he blows the conch shell to call the first assembly. Throughout the story, he struggles to maintain order, forced to compete with Jack for respect. Ralph's name, derived from the Anglo-Saxon language, means "counsel."
Jack, a tall, thin, with dark hair, initially appears in the movie as the leader of the boys' choir. After losing the election for leader to Ralph, he voluntarily takes charge of hunting and maintaining the signal fire. As the structure of life on the island breaks down, Jack forms a tribe of savage boys on the far side of the island. Jack's name, Hebrew in origin, means "one who supplants," reflecting his use of force.
Piggy, an obese, asthmatic boy with myopic vision, clings to civilization and refuses to adopt the new, less structured way of life. His physical weaknesses are preyed upon by the other boys, particularly Jack, but Ralph learns to depend upon Piggy for intellectual guidance.
Piggy's glasses, his only contribution to survival on the island, become a major focal point in the movie because of their ability to light the signal and cooking fires. Piggy's name parallels the wild pigs that are hunted on the island and also reflects his superior intellect.
Simon, skinny with blond hair, is a saint-like presence on the island, neither particularly popular nor despised. Although he spends much of his time alone in the jungle, he is willing to help with necessary chores such as building the huts. It is during one of these solitary journeys into the jungle that he speaks with the "Lord of the Flies," who confirms the belief that he has tried to share with the others, that the "beast" comes from within them. Simon's name comes from the Hebrew word meaning "listener."
Roger, the most savage of the boys, engages in the sadistic torture of a pig, of Piggy and of the littluns. He supports Jack's leadership in the same way that Piggy backs up Ralph's. His name, Germanic in origin, means "spear."
Sam and Eric ....
Sam and Eric are twins who merge into a single identity, "Samneric," as the story progresses. When the island society begins to break apart, they maintain their loyalty to Ralph, but eventually they side with Jack's savage tribe. When they reveal Ralph's hiding place to the hunters, the final hope for society and order is lost.
Percival, small, younger, blond hair boy with a fearful presence. His apprehension to speak is preyed upon by the other boys. His superstition raises the fear of the "Beastie." He also displays the quick loss of society organization and education when he loses his memory of his name, address and phone number.
Big for his age (8), blond hair boy was "promoted" to a hunter from the Li'lUns (Wasn't in Jack's Choir, but was his ally).
The Lord of the Flies dramatizes a fundamental human struggle: the conflict between the impulse to obey rules, behave morally, and act lawfully; and the impulse to seek brute power over others, act selfishly, behave in a way that will gratify one's desires, scorn moral rules, and indulge in violence. The first set of impulses might be thought of as the "civilizing instinct," which encourages people to work together toward common goals and behave peacefully; the second set of impulses might be thought of as the "barbarizing instinct," or the instinct to savagery, which urges people to rebel against civilization, seeking anarchy, chaos, despotism, and violence. The novel's structure and style are extremely straightforward and simple, entirely devoted to the story, as opposed to poetic language, description, or philosophical interludes. The novel is also allegorical, which means that characters and objects directly represent the book's central thematic ideas.
In The Lord of the Flies the civilizing impulse is represented by a number of key characters and symbols, including Ralph, Piggy, and the conch shell the boys use to call meetings. The instinct to savagery is represented by Jack, Roger, the tribal hunting dance, and the decapitated sow's head that comes to be known as the Lord of the Flies. The conflict between Jack and Ralph, as it develops, represents the conflict between the civilizing impulse and the impulse to savagery both within the individual and within society as a whole, as the boys marooned on the island gradually reject the restraints of civilization in favor of a primal, violent, primitive existence of hunting, feasting, and homicide.
Because its story is allegorical, The Lord of the Flies can be interpreted in many ways, and during the 1950s and 1960s a number of readings of the book attempted to connect it with extraordinarily grand historical, religious, and psychological schemes, claiming that the book dramatized the history of civilization or the history of religion, or the struggle between the Freudian components of unconscious identity, id, ego, and superego. There is a glimmer of truth in each of these readings--the book does deal with fundamental human tendencies--but it is important to remember that the novel's philosophical register is really quite limited--almost entirely restricted to the two extremes represented by Ralph and Jack--and is certainly not complex or subtle enough to offer a realistic parallel to the history of human endeavors as a whole. Every element of The Lord of the Flies is sublimated to the book's exploration of its particular philosophical conflict.
The one truly complicating element in the novel is the character of Simon. Whereas Piggy represents the scientific, intellectual, and rational aspects of civilization, Simon seems to represent a kind of innate, spiritual human goodness, deeply connected with nature and in its way as primal as Jack and Roger's primal evil. The other characters in the novel abandon moral behavior as soon as civilization no longer imposes it upon them: they are not innately moral; they have simply been conditioned to act morally by the adult world, and by the threat of punishment. This is true even of Ralph and Piggy to an extent; in the psychology of the novel, the civilizing impulse is not as deeply rooted in the human psyche as the savage impulse. But Simon continues to act morally on the island; he behaves kindly to the younger children, and he is the first to realize the problem posed by the beast and the Lord of the Flies--that there is no external monster, but that rather a monster lurks within each human being. This idea finds representation in the sow's head, and eventually stands as the moral conclusion of the novel. The main problem of the book is the idea of human evil; against this, Simon seems to represent an idea of essential human goodness--yet his brutal murder by the other boys near the end of the book indicates the scarcity of that goodness amid an overwhelming abundance of evil.
In the Lord of the Flies, there were many themes that were portrayed throughout the book.
The Need For Civilization
The most obvious of the themes is man's need for civilization. Contrary to the belief that man is innocent and society evil, the story shows that laws and rules, policemen and schools are necessary to keep the darker side of human nature in line. When these institutions and concepts slip away or are ignored, human beings revert to a more primitive part of their nature.
Innocence and the Loss of it
The existence of civilization allows man to remain innocent or ignorant about his true nature. Although man needs civilization, it is important that he also be aware of his more primitive instincts. Only in this way can reach true maturity.
Golding implies that the loss of innocence has little to do with age but is related to a person's understanding of human nature. It can happen at any age or not at all. Painful though it may be, this loss of innocence by coming to terms with reality is necessary if humanity is to survive.
The Loss of Identity
Civilization separates man from the animals by teaching him to think and make choices. When civilization slips away and man reverts to his more primitive nature, his identity disintegrates. The boys use masks to cover their identity, and this allows them to kill and later to murder. This loss of a personal name personifies the loss of selfhood and identity.
Different types of power, with their uses and abuses, are central to the story. Each kind of power is used by one of the characters. Democratic power is shown when choices and decisions are shared among many. Authoritarian power allows one person to rule by threatening and terrifying others. Spiritual power recognizes internal and external realities and attempts to integrate them. Brute force, the most primitive use of power, is indiscriminate.
Fear of the Unknown
Fear of the unknown on the island revolves around the boys terror of the beast. Fear is allowed to grow because they play with the idea of it. They cannot fully accept the notion of a beast, nor can they let go of it. They whip themselves into hysteria, and their attempts to resolve their fears are too feeble to convince themselves one way or the other. The recognition that no real beast exists, that there is only the power of fear, is one of the deepest meanings of the story.
The Indifference of Nature
Throughout much of literature the natural world has been portrayed as "mother nature," the protector of man. In Lord of the Flies nature is shown to be indifferent to humanity's existence. When nature creates a situation which helps or hinders mankind, it is an arbitrary happening. Man may be aware of nature, but nature is unconscious and unaware of mankind.
Blindness and Sight
Being blind and having special sight are interwoven themes. One who is blind to his immediate surroundings usually has special understanding of things which others cannot fathom. This person sees more, but he is not seen or recognized by those around him. Such a person is often considered a fool and ridiculed by others.
Instinct to be a Follower
If someone believes that another is superior, usually in strength and intelligence, they will be a follower of that person and indulge in their wishes. At first in the novel, Ralph was elected chief, the most superior position. Everyone followed Ralph's demands because he was the superior. Ralph was Jack's superior, but Jack was still in charge of the members of his former choir. Jack did not believe that Ralph was his superior in strength or intelligence. He left with choir, who followed him. The others soon came to believe that Jack was superior to Ralph because he could hunt and supply them with food. They of course went and became a part of Jack's tribe, and indulged in his wishes. This all shows that people are easily awed by a show of superior ability and will readily follow anyone that they believe to be superior.
Thanks to Justin Kopp
Purchase the DVD at AMAZON.COM Lord of the Flies - Criterion Collection
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