To Rule Or To Be Ruled Upon, That Is The Question


English 3-4

If you were trapped on an island with several other boys, would you allow yourself to be pushed around, or would you take charge? That was a choice that the boys in this book had to make. In the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding, there are various boys trapped on an island with no grown-ups. According to the philosopher Friederich Nietzsche, all people are categorized as either a master or a slave; Ralph and Jack are masters, while on the other hand, Piggy is a slave.

Ralph was the chief of the tribe and was most definitely a master but was still held as a slave to the old ways and emotions. “There’s another thing. We can help them to find us. If a ship comes near the island they may not notice us. So we must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire.” Ralph knew they had to be rescued, so he told the other boys and they instantly made a fire. The boys listen and obey Ralph for they feel closer to him than others. After Piggy’s death and the detachment of the conch, Ralph had lost some of his control over the boys. “What was the sensible thing to do? There was no Piggy to talk sense. There was no solemn assembly for debate nor dignity of the conch.” Even though Ralph was leader, he relied on Piggy for support and the conch to preserve his supremacy. The conch was a symbol of the law and order of the old world in which all the boys are so used to acceding to. When both are gone, Ralph is lost in a world of anarchy run by Jack. Ralph went from leader to ruin when he only had himself to rely on.

Jack was a master for the ‘dark side’. The boys followed him not because they liked him but because they had to. “Then Jack found the throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands. The sow collapsed under them and they were heavy and fulfilled upon her. The butterflies still danced, preoccupied in the center of the clearing.” (112) When the pig eluded him, it angered Jack greatly and when he finally did catch the pig, he made sure that it would not get away again. No matter how much the boys’ behavior changed from civil to savage under Jack’s rule, the island around them remained unchanged. Jack was a slave to his compassion no matter how much he denied it. The mask helped him become a savage beast so he could kill without remorse.

“...the mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness.” (64) When the mask was applied to Jack’s face he felt as a master to all and powerful. Others saw this and followed suit. Jack as the leader of anarchy is an example of what people would become if set to one’s own standards.

Piggy was smart and cunning but a slave to others. Piggy finally realized that he was being treated as a slave. “You said you wanted a small fire and you’ve been and built a pile like a hayrick. If I say anything,” Piggy cried, with bitter realism, “you say shut up; but if Jack or Maurice or Simon…” (40) The others knew that Piggy had the best ideas and suggestions but they still chose to ignore him. Piggy was shunned and disowned by the other boys, for he represented the old way of the grown up world. “Then, with the martyred expression of a parent who has to keep up with the senseless ebullience of the children, he [Piggy] picked up the conch, turned toward the forest, and began to pick his way over the tumbled scar.” (38) Over time the boy did not care about the old ways as much as Piggy still did so they were drawn away from him. Eventually, they dismissed him totally. It is no coincidence that Piggy’s nickname is such; the tremendous emotion that Jack and his hunters have to “kill the pig” is around-about and a clever