Playing with Fire
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Ocean here is without the shores and any sign of the earth that is close. The island is uninhabited. The heat, the palm trees, bananas, wild boar, fresh water spring and a mysterious cave are the surroundings of the scene of the main action. It was this island where the squad of boys who survived a plane crash managed to get. The unexpected turn of events pushes many of them to forget about everything; about the discipline and order in the first place, then friendship and honesty, and, in the end, the human nature itself.
Catastrophic events reveal instability, fragility, not only individual, but of every human being in general. Individual has to stand against something in this world, it is necessary to deal with his own inner world, to assess his abilities and capabilities first of all. The world is absurd; hence, no one is protected from hopeless frustration, because a person lives in a world of chaos. Proactive stance acts in this world, and confronts it with all its strength.
The central point is the conflict between the individual and the society. Estrangement between them is derived from the recognition of immutable nature of a person, opposing various social stereotypes imposed by the society (Cupach, 2010). Therefore, the contradiction between freedom and the individual, on the one hand, and the routine everyday life on the other, is regarded as insoluble. Borderline situations put a man to a necessity of making a choice.
People always have to choose one form of behavior or another, focus on certain values and ideals, and do certain things in order to form his personality. No one and nothing can detect and determine the nature of his choice.
William Golding in his works asks questions of moral choice of a person in extreme conditions. The crucial question regarding the human nature which is stated in the "Lord of the Flies" (Golding, 2003) receives the pessimistic answer. Thinking about what hope could do to build people, Golding came to a disappointing conclusion that hope, in fact, is not enough without a favor of God, or a happy coincidence. The world is hostile and the human soul in it is dark.
In the work of Golding "Lord of the Flies" there is a significant motif of "darkness" which dominated over a person. It surrounds him outside and lives deep in his soul. In the novel everybody has to resist the "sparkling world ... evil rampage" and also the world with "puzzled mind." The formation of an individual doesn’t come on its own; behind it there is a social system with its own arrangements, as well as the scale of values and system behavior.
All five conflict styles are found in this story. The first one is the competing one which is the most common for the situations where Piggy occurs. This happened each time when the issues and problems of other kids were not in the same range with his moral principles. As for the wild kids under Jack’s leadership, they were totally opposed to the thoughts that Piggy expressed, and which he was ready to defend.
Golding's intent was to see how the soul is free from the evil of "civilized individual." However, at first the characters behave as befits to the members of a civilized nation. They perform a lot of actions imitating adults, e.g. they hold elections and establish the democratic government. Democracy, however, is very short-lived on the island: it gradually flares power struggle, the first blood is spilled, panic breaks out and the boys come up with a mythological beast – the embodiment of their unconscious fears.
The power of dark instincts starts calling them "to hunt and kill." The reader sees them war painted and shouting their hunting call; these boys resemble a herd of militant savages who commit ritual dances around the fire shouting: "Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spell the blood!“ (Golding, 2003).
The main point of the situation which happened inside the small society of kids is bad communication climate (Cupach, 2010). The boys did not hear each other even though they tried to listen. Every single person in their community was alone, nobody was a friend one of someone and the communication was led in vain. The reason of this situation is that they were not grownups and nobody taught them to listen and to hear each other.
As kids they understood only their personal needs and the interests of others were evaluated as the attempt of taking away their rights or authority in front of others. They could not speak to each other properly, and that is why all the conflicts had no chance to be solved without any harm and without issues of aggressive behavior.
"Lord of the Flies" is a philosophical parable, allegory, accompanied with the symbolic commentary or subtext. Symbolic implications occur in different forms in this story. The writer gives the emblematic value to the simplest objects and phenomena, such as fire, glasses, sink. Their ironic interaction creates a subtle atmosphere, but the real meaning is not always revealed even by the end of the novel.
Playing with the person’s mind is very dangerous; the life situation, where the boys find themselves in, was gambling with them. It seems like playing with fire when each time a person makes a move there is no straight answer who is playing and who is being played with.
Thus, the "fire" in the first chapters of the novel is associated with the "salvation"; it goes out of control and kills one of the boys, as if to warn the others of its impending danger. The fire dies out, when Jack kills his first pig, and it becomes a terrible destructive force during the final hunting "savages". Ralph, though, paradoxically causes the situation where a passing warship decided to send a lifeboat to the boys because of the fire.
Another symbol is the sink, through which the boys call a meeting. It served as a symbol of democracy and order. The boar's skull is a symbol of social chaos and external objectification and inner evil inherent in human nature. But most importantly, the characters of the novel do not have any absolute values. Their content is not only changing with the development of the plot, such as sink becoming an empty trinket when the power goes to the "servants of the skull". The same skull on the shelf Simon will personify with the evil Beelzebub, with the voice of a schoolteacher: "The halt-shut eyes were dim with the infinite cynicism of adult life. They assured Simon that everything was a bad business. ... At last Simon gave up and looked back; saw the white teeth and dim eyes, the blood - and his gaze was held by that ancient, inescapable recognition" (Golding, 2003).
The same object caused Ralph to feel anger and incomprehensible fear: "A sick fear and rage swept in him. Fiercely he hit out at the filthy thing that bobbed like a toy and came back, still grinning into his face, so that he lashed and cried out in loathing" (Golding).
The writer does not speak only about the shortcomings of society and human nature, but he also tries to figure out the possibility of knowing these shortcomings and examining characters in different connections with evil. On the one hand, the characters of Golding are not some specific boys with childlike logic and attitude; instead, they belong to certain types of social and philosophical behavior. On the other hand, the island described by Golding is a field of struggle, which appears to be not only a clash of antagonistic characters as different conflicts begin to develop inside a person.
Verbal aggressiveness is one of the first symbols and characteristics that can be observed in the society that has a growing conflict inside. For example the situation when Piggy decided to speak to an opposing camp and ask them important questions like what was more valuable for them: to be the beasts they were turning into constantly, or to remain humans and start thinking about their actions (Cupach, 2010).
Clumsy and short-sighted, physically weak, helpless without his glasses, fat Piggy assumes the role of ideology. He is the one who makes everything logical, clear and simple in this extraordinary situation. He is the type of technocrat rationalist and the embodiment of common sense.
Piggy’s main trouble lies primarily in the fact that rationality does not give him an opportunity to understand the complexity and diversity of life, forcing him to simplify everything, so it comes down to the rational and logical basis. Therefore, seeing the outside, he tries to break the surface of evil but he is unable to find the source. And without understanding its laws, Piggy cannot use it and the only available weapon is his mind. In this context, short-sightedness of the hero is clearly symbolic. "Piggy is not wise. Piggy is shortsighted ... no one understands life on the island worse than Piggy does" (Golding, 2003).
In the process of implementing the plan, much of these characters have changed. Thanks to the organizational diversity processes the development of the characters goes out of control, becoming much contradictory and charming. Piggy from the very beginning mortally hated Jack. Piggy was a major obstacle to the dictatorial aspirations, that's why it was on Piggy’s advice they started to fight for democracy, but it was with his death the humanity died on the island.
When Piggy decides to go to Jack's camp to give his thoughts, there is a beautiful speech against the "savagery" and "murder": "Which is better - to be a pack at painted niggers like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is? Which is better - to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill? Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?" (Golding, 2003). However, the reaction was more than terrible and other kids were unable to see the situation how Piggy could. They did not even try to solve the problem like normal and adequate people would do using words and communication.
In this situation the reader can see that fair and just speech that was produced by an individual caused a verbal aggressiveness from the side of the listeners and found its realization in the worst way.
Indeed, Piggy was the most tragic figure in this story. He asked to stop the fights but nobody listened to him and only laugh and constant angry roar were heard. This is the situation when all the stages or processes of emotion can be observed through the depicted characters.
The main characters of the "Lord of the Flies" represent a well-chosen ensemble. In the genre of allegory the human soul in positioned to be in struggle between the two worlds – the world of savagery and irresponsibility and the world of common sense and civilization.
Piggy speaks to other boys trying to make understand the reasonable things he is trying to prove: "Which is better - to have rules and agree or to hunt and kill?" (Golding, 2003). This struggle is based on the storyline.
The author confronts the characters not only as the embodiment of different types of domestic and social behavior and communication types; but also as a kind of theoretical positions, ways of understanding the "truth" about the human nature. In a sense, "Lord of the Flies" can be called a "hero conflict novel "; no wonder the characters are hardly marked in the beginning of any action when the reader simply appears in the situation that happens to the students in trouble. The same happened in the end, when an officer from a passing cruiser was surrounded by indistinguishable, scared and crying boys.
Perhaps Golding does not write about personalities. He writes about human nature in its polarities and describes people on different levels of emotion they had to go through.
Jack and Ralph, Simon and Piggy fulfill all terms of a single image, and the book of William Golding is not an analysis of individual cases but a portrait of a person itself "heroic and sick" (Golding, 2003). The ending certainly does not solve any of the issues raised in the novel but only sharpens them further.
The situation with an officer who is a representative from the warship, which is the adult world, shows that compared to Ralph, he does not understand the child.
This irony is needed in the final of Golding’s story, apparently in order to make the reader think about the events described and make them step up their minds. The primary objective of his "moral lessons" is not only a statement of any postulates as undermining "capitalizes optimism," loosening in the minds of readers of established clichés, stereotypes of thinking.
Golding wrote this to disturb the reader, get the person to revise the presentation. Thus, leading the reader from the characters and the illusions of visibility of phenomena to their real nature, Golding creates an atmosphere of intense ethical reflection.
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