In William Goldingıs novel, Lord of the Flies, the characterıs loss of identity is a predominant theme. As shown by Ralph and Jack the main characters experience that throughout the book and that caused the devastation and death that prevail at the end.
³ ŒArenıt there any grownups at all?ı [Piggy asked]
ŒI donıt think soı
The fair boy said this solemnly;but then the delight of a realized ambition overcame him. In the middle of the scar he stood on his head and grinned at the reversed fat boy.
ŒNo grownups!ı ³ (8)
Ralph, the fair boy, who is talking to Piggy, another boy he met, first sees the island as a paradise. There are no grownups, no persons who tell them what to do. Ralph wants to have fun. He is also elected leader but with the voters possessing only a vague understanding of the criteria under which he is elected:
³None of the boys could have found good reasons 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 his attractive appearance; and most obscurley, yet most powerfully, there was the conch² (21).
Only Ralph seems to have at least some leadership ability. He does not appear to know how or why he understands things, but he does. In this manner, Golding highlights Ralphıs inherent leadership ability. Ralph is a natural leader, a doer, not a thinker.
But Ralph is fast becoming burdened by leadership. He no longer sees the island as a place to have fun away from grownups. In addition, Ralph is hamperered by his attachment to the fire. His power over the others is slipping. He cannot quite control them because, ³ ŒPeople donıt help muchı ³ (50).
Ralph slowly learns that desire does not necessarily means accomplishment. It is hard work to keep the fire going. Ralphıs well-intentioned plans go horribly awry when the hunters abandon the signal fire to follow Jack after a pig: ²The fire was out, smokeless and dead; the watchers were gone² (61). As a result their first chance of rescue is missed. Ralph is frustrated because his plan would have worked had it been carried out. He is losing his power to maintain order on the island. He also becomes increasingly grownup and urges responsibility. Ralph is further portrayed in the duality of being a leader and being unable to be a leader. His intentions are good but he is always derailed in his plans. He in unable to express the importance of his decisions. As the book continues the power of Ralphıs companions, all of whom are tempted by meat,weakens. Ralph himself cannot understand why he must keep the fire going nor can he communicate that knowledge:² ŒThe fire is the most important thing. Without the fire we canıt be rescued. Iıd like to put on war-paint and be a savage. But we must keep the fire burning because, because² (129).
Since the participation in the previous hunterıs blood dance, Ralph has slowly been seduced by Jackıs vision. He cannot see the beast inside himself and does not recognize what he is fighting against. His instinct of self-protection takes over. He takes a spear as the others hunt him. He explains,²He felt the point of his spear with his thumb and grinned without amusement. Whoever tried that would be stuck, squealing like a pig² (175). He does not see that his actions make the beast become larger and more powerful.
Golding also shows us the characterıs loss of identity by portraying Jack. Jack wishes to be a hunter but he doesnıt really know how to hunt or what he will hunt. His leadership qualities are also obvious. He organized the choir and has possession of a knife, but his harsh ways prevent him from being elected. The way he treats the choir as well as his temper strongly indicate his tendency toward savagery. His first hesitation to kill the pig would make him seen at least a little vunerable if he hadnıt vowed that, ³Next time there would be no mercy² (29).
Jackıs growing obsession to kill pigs dominates his thoughts and directs his actions. His new identity