How Does One Lose Innocence? As seen in William Golding’s, Lord of the Flies The novel Lord of the Flies contains a story line of young English boys trapped on an island without any adult supervision. The boys soon lose their English manners and become uncivilized. The change is noticeable in each of the boys as they adapt to the uncivilized life on the island, but in the two main characters, Jack and Ralph, the change is most noticeable. In William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies, the characters transform from innocent schoolboys to savage boys guilty multiple counts of murder.
Tragedy causes one to lose innocence and become savage. Jack’s first tragedy occurs after he loses the vote for chief and Ralph is elected for the position. This event is a tragedy to Jack because he thought that he should automatically be the island chief because he was the leader of the choir and when he was not elected chief he broke down. Jack’s raw emotions are shown because “the freckles on Jack’s face disappeared under a blush of mortification” (Golding 23).
Jack knew that he could not be the leader because, though some thought he would be best suited for the job, Ralph was the one who blew the conch and Jack knew that the conch was the more powerful than any leader can be. Though Jack was the ideal leader because of his experience with the choir, he was unable to take the position because Ralph brought all the boys together and Ralph looked like a leader, “Jack started to protest but the clamor changed from the general wish for a chief to an election by acclaim of Ralph himself.
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None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch” (Golding 22). Jack’s embarrassment, rage, and disappointment start Jack’s down ward spiral from a young, civilized choirboy to a savage hunter and murderer. Ralph’s tragedy occurs after he realized that the boys could not stay civilized, which occurs after the death of Simon.
Ralph knew that he was the reason for Simon’s death because he could not keep the boys civilized and together as a group though Piggy was unable to grasp the idea of the uncivilized behavior because he is the intellect of the society. The conversation between Piggy and Ralph shows the disappointment and frustration between the two. “Ralph laughed sharply as he said the word and Piggy frowned. ‘You’re still chief’ Ralph laughed again. ‘You are. Over us. ’ ‘I got the conch. ’ ‘Ralph! Stop laughing like that. Look, there ain’t no need, Ralph!
What’s the other going to think? ’ At last Ralph stopped. He was shivering. ‘Piggy. ’ ‘Uh? ’ ‘That was Simon. ’ ‘You said that before. ’ ‘Piggy. ’ ‘Uh? ’ ‘That was murder’” (Golding 156). Ralph is level headed until he has to face the tragedy of realizing that Simon is gone and he becomes unable to make decisions and forces Piggy to make decisions, which eventually leads to his inevitable death. “Ralph realistically confronts the problem of survival and works out a practical plan for rescue” (Dickson 218).
Ralph is smart and he is the leader but his lack of confidence and the unwillingness of the group prevents him from keeping them all civilized. Unexpected negative change takes people by surprise and when people do not know what to do, they act out. Jack’s change occurs after he does not kill the pig on the first try. Jack thinks he is ready to hunt but he is not enlightened enough because he is still in the dark that shows he cannot be saved unless he changes back to whom he was but he cannot kill a pig until he changes to become uncivilized. He chokes.
The choirboys believe in rules and civilization, he sings not kills, but he cannot bring himself to kill because he doesn’t have that instinct. “Jack stood there, streaming with sweat, streaked with brown earth, stained by all the vicissitudes of a day’s hunting. Swearing, he turned off the trail and pushed his way through until the forest opened a little and instead of bald trunks supporting a dark roof there were light grey trunks and crowns of feathery palm” (Golding 49). This event also embarrassed him because he insisted on being the headhunter.
But then, Jack changes the instant he kills the pig. This is when his instinct takes over and the boys cannot go back from here because Jack’s transformation leads to him leaving the tribe. “Behind Jack walked the twins, carrying a great stake on their shoulders. The gutted carcass of a pig swung from the stake, swinging heavily as the twins toiled over the uneven ground’ (Golding 68). Jack, in front of course, proudly leads the group chanting, this chant shows the change, the change from civilized to savage, the loss of innocence.
Ralph’s change comes when he realizes that there is no hope for all the survival of al the boys, which occurs after the death of Piggy and his banishment from Castle Rock. Ralph has hope. Ralph is swimming and relaxing like it’s a vacation at the start of the novel. Ralph is a dreamer. He brings the intellect and the physical together with his dreams, which make him the leader. His visions are the base of the society, which decline with his inability to dream. “Ralph lolled in the water.
Sleep enveloped him like the swathing mirages that were wrestling with the brilliance of the lagoon” (Golding 14). His dreams create the reality for society and when he cannot dream, society cannot prosper. When Ralph transforms, the hope of the society is weaken, just like the strength of the leader, which causes the demise of the civilization. “Ralph’s transformation is both shocking and saddening…when Ralph is trapped in the underbrush, he wonders what a pig would do, for he is in the same position” (Dickson 218).
This shows that Ralph has no hope for survival if he is asking a pig for advice because at the beginning of the novel Ralph was a symbol of hope and now at the end of the novel, Ralph has no hope for his own safety after the death of his friend, Piggy. Jack is cast as an individual in the beginning and in the end with his appearance and his actions. “The boy who controlled them was dressed in the same way though his cap badge was golden” (Golding 19). Jack was different from the other choirboys from the start which Ralph could see before he met Jack because the golden badge could be seen from all the way across the beach.
Jack is an individual who first suggest that they all follow rules and then breaks the biggest rule of all: staying together. Jack’s individualism leads to his downfall and his inability to be the leader at the very end with the naval officer. “‘I’m not going to play any longer. Not with you. ’ Most of the boys were looking down now, at the grass or their feet. Jack cleared his throat again. ‘I’m not going to be apart of Ralph’s lot-‘ He looked along the right-hand logs, numbering the hunter that had been a choir. ‘I’m going off by myself.
He can catch his own pigs. Anyone who wants to hunt when I do can come’” (Golding 127). Jack is individual from the golden badge to the formation of a new tribe and this is because of his instinct, which separates him from the rest of the tribe making him lose his innocence before the rest of the boys lose their innocence. Ralph’s individualism is not as noticeable as Jack’s because he is lead mostly by Piggy who gives him most of the ideas starting from the conch until the end of going to castle Rock while leads to his death.
Ralph is referred to as “the fair boy,” he isn’t given a name until the near end of chapter 1 which is unlike all the other characters who are introduced with names. The boy with the fair hair…the fat boy…” (Golding 7-8). This shows how Piggy and Ralph were lumped together from the beginning, dreams and intellect, the basis of the society. Ralph individualism is shown when he realizes that the conflict is inner, that the boys control themselves and that they control their own, individual, destinies.
The boys can control their future with hope, the conch, and the fire, which are all individual symbols of Ralph. “The problem of physical existence solves itself—the island is rich in fruit and game and the climate is favorable. The real problem that arises among the boys involves their own inner nature, and emerges most directly from a clash between those who wish to keep a fire burning on the island's mountain to attract rescuers and those who wish to hunt and indulge in what at first seems to be the natural inclination of children toward unrestrained play.
The conflict begins in apparent childish innocence, and reaches its climax in acts of shocking brutality that carry far-reaching implications of guilt” (Johnston). Ralph’s inner conflict, his dreams, and his hope show his individualism, which keeps him civilized longer then Jack. The boys lose their innocence and their civility, though some more than others. Jack was effected by his disappointment and his individualism while Ralph was effected by his internal conflict and his inability to keep the boys civilized. The boys devolve throughout the novel from proper English schoolboys to savage murderers.
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