Lord of the Flies

In his first novel, William Golding used a group of boys stranded on a
tropical island to illustrate the malicious nature of mankind. Lord of the Flies
dealt with changes that the boys underwent as they gradually adapted to the
isolated freedom from society. Three main characters depicted different effects
on certain individuals under those circumstances. Jack Merridew began as the
arrogant and self-righteous leader of a choir. The freedom of the island allowed
him to further develop the darker side of his personality as the Chief of a
savage tribe. Ralph started as a self-assured boy whose confidence in himself
came from the acceptance of his peers. He had a fair nature as he was willing to
listen to Piggy. He became increasingly dependent on Piggy\'s wisdom and became
lost in the confusion around him. Towards the end of the story his rejection
from their society of savage boys forced him to fend for himself. Piggy was an
educated boy who had grown up as an outcast. Due to his academic childhood, he
was more mature than the others and retained his civilized behaviour. But his
experiences on the island gave him a more realistic understanding of the cruelty
possessed by some people. The ordeals of the three boys on the island made them
more aware of the evil inside themselves and in some cases, made the false
politeness that had clothed them dissipate. However, the changes experienced by
one boy differed from those endured by another. This is attributable to the
physical and mental dissimilarities between them.

Jack was first described with an ugly sense of cruelty that made him
naturally unlikeable. As leader of the choir and one of the tallest boys on the
island, Jack\'s physical height and authority matched his arrogant personality.
His desire to be Chief was clearly evident in his first appearance. When the
idea of having a Chief was mentioned Jack spoke out immediately. "I ought
to be chief," said Jack with simple arrogance, "because I\'m chapter
chorister and head boy."  He led his choir by administering much
discipline resulting in forced obedience from the cloaked boys. His ill-nature
was well expressed through his impoliteness of saying, "Shut up,
Fatty." at Piggy. (p. 23) However, despite his unpleasant personality, his
lack of courage and his conscience prevented him from killing the first pig they
encountered. "They knew very well why he hadn\'t: because of the enormity of
the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable
blood." (p. 34) Even at the meetings, Jack was able to contain himself
under the leadership of Ralph. He had even suggested the implementation of rules
to regulate themselves. This was a Jack who was proud to be British, and who was
shaped and still bound by the laws of a civilized society. The freedom offered
to him by the island allowed Jack to express the darker sides of his personality
that he hid from the ideals of his past environment. Without adults as a
superior and responsible authority, he began to lose his fear of being punished
for improper actions and behaviours. This freedom coupled with his malicious and
arrogant personality made it possible for him to quickly degenerate into a
savage. He put on paint, first to camouflage himself from the pigs. But he
discovered that the paint allowed him to hide the forbidden thoughts in his mind
that his facial expressions would otherwise betray. "The mask was a thing
on its own behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and
self-consciousness." (p. 69) Through hunting, Jack lost his fear of blood
and of killing living animals. He reached a point where he actually enjoyed the
sensation of hunting a prey afraid of his spear and knife. His natural desire
for blood and violence was brought out by his hunting of pigs. As Ralph became
lost in his own confusion, Jack began to assert himself as chief. The boys
realizing that Jack was a stronger and more self-assured leader gave in easily
to the freedom of Jack\'s savagery. Placed in a position of power and with his
followers sharing his crazed hunger for violence, Jack gained encouragement to
commit the vile acts of thievery and murder. Freed from the conditions of a
regulated society, Jack gradually became more violent and the rules and proper
behaviour by which he was brought up were forgotten. The freedom given to him
unveiled his true self under the clothing worn by civilized people to hide his
darker characteristics.

Ralph was introduced as a fair and likeable