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Lord Of The Flies And World War II


Lord Of The Flies And The Second World War

Numerous things such as social and political environments can impact literature. British participation in WWII directly affected Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies. As all authors use their life and times as recommendation points in their works, Golding drew heavily on sociological, cultural, and military events. Lord of the Flies is an allegorical parallel to the world, as Golding perceived it. The island, the boys, and numerous other items and occasions described in his work represent Golding’s view of the world and humankind in general. He specifically incorporates qualities and values reflective of the British culture.

“… The war taught me various and a great deal of others like me,” Golding said in the New Republic (Davis 28-30). Golding was describing his experiences as captain of a British rocket-launching craft in the North Atlantic. He existed at the sinking of the Bismarck, a German battleship, and took part in the D-Day invasion of German occupied France. He was likewise directly affected by England’s devastation as a result of the German Air Force that seriously harmed the country’s facilities and marked the beginning of a serious decrease in the British economy. Wartime rationing continued well into the postwar period. Products like meat, bread, sugar, gasoline, and tobacco were all in short supply and thought about high-ends, which is exemplified in Golding’s work.

Golding’s writing shows substantial individual life experiences. Golding spent 2 years as a science trainee at Oxford University prior to he left this field to pursue a degree in English Literature. This was his first step toward turning down clinical rationalism, an approach in which his father thought. Having actually joined the British Royal Navy when The second world war started, Golding was associated with the invasion of Normandy on D-Day. After his military experience, he became a teacher. For fifteen years he regularly read the Greek classics due to the fact that, according to him, “this is where the meat is.”(Davis 28-30) He felt that Greek drama had an excellent influence on his work.

Drawing from Golding’s own life experiences, Lord of the Flies examines 3 essential elements of the human experience that form the basis of the styles the author wishes to convey. The very first is the desire for social and political order through parliaments, governments, and legislatures, which represented by the platform and the conch. The second is natural disposition toward wicked and violence, demonstrated in every country’s requirement for a military, which is represented by the choir-boys-turned-hunters-turned-murderers, and in the war going on the planet beyond the island. The 3rd is the belief in supernatural or divine intervention in human fate, which is represented by the ceremonial dances, and sacrifices planned to calm the “monster”, in addition to Simon’s Jesus-like allegorical recommendations.

By juxtaposing the evil, aggressive nature of the boys with the appropriate and civil British behavior that their cultural background implies, Golding puts the young boys in a series of life experiences that lead some, like Jack, much deeper into their corrupt mind, and others, like Ralph, who recognize the tendency towards evil in themselves, to suddenly realize the person they were indicated to be. This awareness is the only hope for humankind to select great over evil.

Golding composed Lord of the Flies in 1954, less than a years after The second world war, when the world remained in the middle of the Cold War. The atrocities of the Holocaust, the dreadful effects of the atomic bomb, and the ominous hazard of the Communist demon behind the Iron Drape were all present in the minds of the Western public and the author. This environment of fear combined with innovation’s fast advances act as a background to the island experiences: the shot-down plane, for example, and the young boys’ concern that the “Reds” may find them before the British do.

Historically, in times of extensive socio-economic distress and fear, the public feels itself susceptible and relies on the leader who shows one of the most strength or seems to provide the most security. In Lord of the Flies, Jack and the hunters, who provide the luxury of meat and the comforts of a dictatorship, fill that function. In exchange for his protection, the other boys sacrifice any ethical reservations they might have about his policies and enthusiastically persecute the young boys who resist joining their tribe. These scenarios rather mirror Germany’s financial suffering, which paved the way for the radical politics of Adolph Hitler’s Nazism in the aftermath of World War I and in the around the world depression of the 1930s.

Based upon his wartime experiences in the British Navy, Golding asserted that the endless brutality shown by the Nazis was a capacity not limited to Germans or undoubtedly to any specific group. While the world was frightened by news of the Nazi death camps, Golding felt that none of the countries was too far from devoting atrocities of the very same magnitude. According to Golding, humankind’s inclination towards evil and violence connected with the “psychology of worry” motivates mankind to act in unconscionable methods (Davis 28-30).

When the United States used the atomic bomb in Japan, more than 100,000 innocent civilians were killed in three days by dropping two bombs. In general, a total of 55 million individuals lost their lives in World War II. Such catastrophic violence and death was clearly not lost on Golding: An atomic war causes the boys’ evacuation in Lord of the Flies, and the sign from the world of grown-ups that the boys so wish for ends up being the body of a dead paratrooper, drifting down from an aerial fight.

Such a fatalistic view of humankind straight conflicted with the rationalism on which Golding was raised. His father’s rationalist optimism declared that humankind can be improved with sufficient effort, purged of aggressive or anti-social propensities. Golding’s view is much more pessimistic concerning mankind’s true makeup. He perceived excellent and wicked to be equal components of human nature, completely intertwined. Rather than looking to social reform to treat mankind of its cruelty, Golding felt that breakdown in the social order, such as takes place in Lord of the Flies, is directly traceable to ethical disaster at the person’s level.

Golding’s representation of humankind’s fundamental evil is a treatment of the Judeo-Christian idea of original sin. When Lord of the Flies was released, numerous critics were not impressed by it due to the fact that Golding was not part of one of the contemporary literary motions, which concerned themselves not with theology or mysticism, however with existential and sociological styles (Davis 28-30). Rather, Golding was a 43-year-old teacher with a wife and kids addressing timeless themes of great and wicked. As a schoolteacher, however, Golding experienced the reality of school child behavior and tendencies, which offered him with valuable literary material.

That reality was quite different from the image painted in lots of children’s adventure stories, such as R. M. Ballantyne’s timeless Victorian tale, Coral Island. Coral Island exemplified certain presumptions about English school children and British culture that Golding understood to be incorrect, such as the idea that British, Christian kids were naturally virtuous and innocent. Golding composed Lord of the Flies as a solemn parody of Coral Island, showing that barbarians and outsiders do not constantly practice savage habits, however that the habits can reside in each individual’s heart (Henningfeld).

Another concern Golding dealt with was the Western World’s post-war confidence in innovation, another spin on the rationalist idea that human society can be perfected; Rationalism’s anti-mystical attitude belongs of technology worship. Consisted of in the clinical advances of the very first half of the twentieth century was the field of psychiatry, which promised to explain emotional disruptions in a sensible way, an innovation of the mind.

Golding wove in referrals to innovation’s impact in Lord of the Flies through Piggy, who asserts that psychiatry can explain away their fears, which ghosts can not exist since if they did, tv and streetlights would not work (Henningfeld). While Golding’s book does not prove the presence of ghosts, it does resolve the underlying fears and real devils discovered in mankind and the personal soul.

William Golding set Lord of the Flies at a time when Europe is in the middle of nuclear damage. The group of boys, being left from England to Australia, crash land on a tropical island, producing circumstances of political and social distress. This event parallels the real world beyond the island. In the minute that the savages are about to catch Ralph, an adult marine officer appears. Suddenly, about to be saved, the savages revert to little boys and they begin to weep.

The officer can not seem to understand what has actually taken place on the island. “Enjoyable and games,” he states, unconsciously echoing Ralph’s words from the opening chapter (Henningfeld). Ralph breaks down and sobs, grieving Simon and mourning Piggy. In the final line of the book, Golding reminds the reader that although adults have actually gotten here, the rescue is a faulty one. The officer keeps an eye out to sea at his “trim cruiser in the range.” Echoing William Golding’s ideas: “The world, after all, is still at war.”

All literature is undoubtedly impacted by its author’s personal experiences. The surrounding environments, in both social and cultural aspects, affect these individual experiences. William Golding’s involvement and experiences witnessed very first hand in World War II resulted in the happenings and outcomes of his novel Lord of the Flies. Even fictional stories such as this novel can have elements of truth added, providing the inner-soul to motivate readers, and even authors everywhere.

Functions Pointed out

Douglas A. Davis. “A Discussion with Golding,” New Republic. May 4, 1963. pp. 28- 30.

Ellis, John. The Second World War Databook: The Vital Facts and Figures for All the Combatants. London: Aurum Press, 1993.

“English literature.” Britannica Student Encyclopedia. 2007. EncyclopÐ ¶ dia Britannica Online. 21 Feb. 2007.

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Capricorn Books, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1954.

Henningfeld, Diane Andrews. “Overview of Lord of the Flies.” Checking out Novels. Gale Research study, 1998. Gale Trainee Research Center, November 2006.

Dilson, Jesse. The Historic Encyclopedia of The Second World War. Ed. Marcel Baudot. New York City: Realities on File, 1980.

“William Golding.” Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volume 44. Gale Research Group, 2002. Wind Trainee Research Center, February 2007.

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