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Lord of the Flies, Coral Island and the Role of Adults


It is known that to fully appreciate the novel “Lord of the Flies” (1954) by William Golding (1911-1993) it is needed to have actually checked out Robert Michael Ballantyne’s (1825-1894) “Coral Island” (1858 ), or a minimum of to understand its theme and treatment. Therefore, considering that it was Golding’s intention to set himself to write an island story that deliberately challenged Ballantyne’s design in “Coral Island” -by inverting its presumptions and worths- we can explore multiple angles from which the 2 novels can be compared and studied.

A product which appears rather intriguing when analysing both texts is that a person associated to civilization and its adult exponents.

After a comprehensive reading and concentrating on really clear and particular aspects we take place to discover the distinctions -along with some resemblances- amongst the roles and the significance of these adult characters in each novel. We will initially describe Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”, in which there are various examples of the complexity of the adult figure. However we need to initially refer to Golding’s own experience at war in order to get a clearer photo of his position towards our central issue.

From the first years of his life, he faced the atrocities of war when he participated in the Second World War by joining the British Navy at 1940. The war, as a physical result, altered a lot Golding’s view of life. He could not think in male’s innocence any longer. He found that even the children are not innocent. No one is innocent. The concepts of W. Golding’s view of human nature can be discovered in practically any of Golding’s books and especially, in his very first and most well-known book, “Lord of the flies” 1. So, let us now focus on the unique itself.

At a moment of uncertainty-anguish the kids beg frantically for a signal from the world of grown-ups: (“Grown-ups know things” said Piggy. “They ain’t afraid of the dark. They ‘d fulfill and have tea and discuss. Then things ‘ud be all right–” “They would not set fire to the island. Or lose—” “They ‘d construct a ship—” The 3 boys stood in the darkness, making every effort unsuccessfully to convey the majesty of adult life. “They would not quarrel—” […] “If just they could get a message to us,” cried Ralph desperately. “If only they might send us something full-grown … an indication or something. 2) In the next chapter what they get is a dead body of a man hanging from a parachute, a remains which gets rotten as the story advances. Is this the adult figure they were waiting on? Or, should the concern be: Does this ‘present’ from air assist them in any method to strengthen their borders with civilization? The response appears to be ‘no’. On the contrary, it makes them panic, gradually driving them mad and irrational. It unleashes violence, leads them to sacrifices and murder, and takes them back to a primitive phase.

So already the adult figure does not seem to be related to a positive role. Nevertheless, there is another character in the book who also becomes extremely important as concerns our analysis of the adult figure. Lastly, when on the last pages, Ralph is pushing the sand, ready to accept the blow which will kill him, and he hears the silence around him, and he looks up … up …, he can first see some emblems of power, some signs of the grown ups’ world and likewise of his father authority, and only then he can see a guy– a marine officer. This guy takes place to stop Ralph’s harsh chase simply by chance. Grown-ups have been dropping bombs and planes, and it was an atomic war which had actually made the kids’s evacuation needed in the very first place. Who have gone bananas and been having an atomic war but the grown-ups themselves? 3 Once again, a new concern should be made: Is this a genuine symbol of redemption? Or, How can an ambassador of an atomic war represent the parental defense or perhaps a mature design to be followed? The marine officer’s lack of knowledge, his lack of understanding of what has actually been going on, is ironical. Moreover, what Golding is trying to make clear at this circumstances is the decadent figure of the human grownup, and by extension, of the entire human civilized world. Let us now turn to R. M. Ballantyne’s “Coral Island”. Here, the concern about civilization, appears to be very well defined as well as great and evil are so plainly separated that there can not be any dispute between them. 5 In spite of this, when we come to a closer look we find an unique complexity within a variety of characters. Everything about Ballantyne’s boys, who are older by some years than Golding’s kids, is confident and positive.

The novel as an entire, images the assumptions and worths of the Victorian duration in affirming development, imperialism, self-reliance, the Developer, the goodness of nature and of humanity- when Christianised at least 6 Really, this is rather an interesting item to focus on. On the one hand there are the dark-skinned people described as “the savages”, who are in reality the native residents from the neighbouring islands. They are a kind of primitive adults, constantly characterised as harsh, uncivilised inferior beings.

Their routines, their type of life, the entire of their culture is referred to as barbarian and demoniac and Ralph, our young narrator, is deeply frightened at seeing them. They represented a threat to the boys, and they tried to escape from them or to remain in good– however remote- terms with them, so as to keep them away from their coral island. On the other hand there are the pirates, who, paradoxically, are– like the remainder of the fair-skinned characters- superior; their ways are civilised, their clothing being the main sign of their supremacy. What is fascinating about these last ones is that they are at first referred to as representing a hazardous aspect– as had currently been the shark or the extremely ocean. However, as the novel goes on, we are made to believe that this roaming grownups who travel overseas, robbing ships, dominating all that they discovered at their rate and kidnapping people, are actually ‘not that bad’. Even the pirates are “better” than the natives, more intelligent, cleaner, and so on

. However likewise, as we reach the end of the novel, we all of a sudden fulfill some educated peaceful missionaries who work a miracle when they get to the island the young boys are recorded in and handle to convert the wild savages into Christians and they embrace our Lord’s Gospel. It needs to be comprehended that the priest’s reason for existing is to eliminate the beliefs of an entire human group and the pirates are traditionally thought of as being burglars, kidnappers and violent conquerors. However, in some way, this is not the image Ballantyne portrays towards the end of the novel. Provided, therefore, the complex nature of these beings, a new various concern emerges.

What is the real nature of adults-civilization for Ballantyne? How come that grownups like the priest and the pirates can be agents of great or redemption? Are the adults capable of completely changing their previous evil nature suddenly? Clearly, the answer appears to rely on the ethical outlook, the Victorian values, which bathes the whole novel. The didactic intents are clear. His objectives are to teach his readers, not just to notify them about the wonders and fears of the Pacific Islands, but likewise to make them reflect on the power, goodness, glory of God and make them better people. As a result, by comparing and contrasting both books from the opposed point of views of the two authors, we determine the key elements fundamental to each one as concerns our primary topic. Basically, while in Ballantyne’s “Coral Island” the common view of man was that based upon the confidence of the white male 9 in Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” the thesis is based on the male’s fallen nature misconception, expressing through it his belief in man’s other nature, the dark and guilty nature. 0 Generally, both Ballantyne and Golding’s understandings about their adult years and civilization vary not just because of an entirely divergent perception on the world -which derives from their personal experiences- however also since of the time when each novel was written and the absolutely different socio-political landscapes in which they were established. 1 Material acquired from http://www. geocities. com/Athens/Forum/ 6249/bio. htm 2 “The Lord of the Flies”, by William Golding (p. 117) Faber and Faber Limited (1954) 3 Notes supplied by the instructor on “The Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. Notes supplied by the teacher on “The Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. 5 Notes offered by the instructor on “The Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. 6 Notes offered by the instructor on “Coral Island” by R. M. Ballantyne. 7 Macmillan Master Guide, The Lord of the Flies, 1986 8 Notes offered by the instructor on “Coral Island” by R. M. Ballantyne. 9 Notes offered by the instructor on “Coral Island” by R. M. Ballantyne. 10 Notes supplied by the teacher on “Coral Island” by R. M. Ballantyne. 11Macmillan Master Guide, The Lord of the Flies, 1986

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