The boys in Lord of the Flies undergo significant mental and physical changes, leading to the disintegration of order on the island. Initially, the school boys attempt to establish order within their newly formed community. Jack and Ralph, the primary characters, possess inherent leadership qualities. At the start of the story, Gilding portrays them as well-mannered school boys. On page 20, they demonstrate their inclination towards civilization when Ralph summons a meeting by blowing the conch and inviting others to join.
Also, the presentation of Jack and his choir is described as a “party of boys, marching approximately in step in two parallel lines and dressed in strangely eccentric clothing” (19). This indicates that the choir still has a sense of propriety and is influenced by their previous society. An example of this is when Jack hesitates to kill a pig because he is disturbed by the act of violence and the sight of blood (31). This suggests that Jack and the other boys still possess a moral conscience and do not yet fully embody savagery. The boys proceed to establish order by assigning names and selecting a leader, indicating their subconscious desire for structure. Ralph’s use of the conch as a symbol of law and authority helps maintain civility among the boys until it is destroyed by Roger, leading to the breakdown of order on the island. The increasing tension between Jack and Ralph throughout the book ultimately results in savage behavior among the boys.
During the boys’ initial hunt, it intensifies the conflict between Jack and Ralph. Jack argues that Ralph is unfit to lead because he is unable to hunt and provide for the group. Although their first attempt fails, they improve over time and successfully take down their first prey. Initially, hunting is solely for survival, but by chapter eight, it becomes driven by pleasure. Jack and his hunters encounter a sow and her piglets, mercilessly slaughtering her with their spears.
Roger completes their torment of the sow by uttering “Right up her a* *” (123) and thrusting a knife into her backside. This event marks a turning point for the boys. As they begin to kill for pleasure, Gilding intends for the reader to comprehend that the boys’ primal instincts have taken control. The island sees the emergence of two factions: one headed by Jack, who commands the hunters, and the other led by Ralph. Ralph’s group consists of Piggy, Simon, and the youngest child. The division of the groups intensifies the animosity among the children.
This ultimately results in a battle and the fatalities of Piggy, Simon, the torture of Sameness, and the pursuit of Ralph. Ultimately, the conflict between Jack and Ralph reaches a savage climax. The disorder on the island brings about a transformation in the boys’ physical appearance and mental condition. Initially, the boys made an effort to keep their clothing clean and untattered. However, as the story progresses, their attire deteriorates and they neglect personal grooming and hygiene.
Eventually, Jack and his hunters emblazoned their bodies with paint, symbolizing their inner savagery and animalistic conduct. Their mindset shifted from civility to chaos, leading to numerous conflicts following the grouping disarray. In Chapter 9, the situation spirals out of control with Simon’s tragic demise. This shift towards barbarism marks a pivotal moment in the novel’s depiction of societal collapse. The boys become consumed by the concept of war, rendering the book an allegory of civil strife.
Throughout Lord of the Flies, the boys undergo significant changes, both mentally and physically, leading to the disruption of order on the island. Removing an individual from society often results in a regression to a savage mindset. This novel highlights the necessity of a strong central authority for maintaining order. The story explores the formation of various alliances among the boys, drawing inspiration from Thomas Hobbes’ concept of social contracts. The absence of such a contract within their society results in tension and conflicts amongst them.