The Hidden Messages in Lord of The Flies Essay Example


Globally, the struggle for political, economical, and social power shifts with the thirst for being the superior. Literature often subliminally addresses the topic of World War II with hidden messages that further extend the meaning of the war. William Golding’s  Lord of The Flies is allegorically connected to the historically significant World War II through the brawling, differing political viewpoints, competition between democracy and dictatorship, conflicting views on leadership styles, and unknown, unpredictable phenomenons that appear on the island. 

Jack’s hostile and contentious departure from his large, democratic tribe, and then his decision to invade those he had once considered his own tribesmen, represents the beginning of the major conflict in the story, just like Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland, which started World War II on September 1, 1939. “Then the shelter collapsed with smothering finality; and the anonymous shapes fought their way out and through. Dark figures drew themselves out of the wreckage and flitted away, till the screams of the littluns and Piggy's gasps were once more audible.” (Golding 167) is Golding’s description of the invasion. Hitler’s invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign, was an unprecedented shock to the Polish people because they considered Hitler their ally. After World War I, when Germany was severely defeated, they were restricted from ever expanding again, especially into Poland. Knowing this, Germany decided to disregard the limits and surge through the unexpecting country first. Jack’s invasion of his old tribe had the same effect. Ralph, Piggy, Sam, and Eric were shocked and left weakened by the betrayal.

In Lord of the Flies, each character reacts differently to the invasion and also to its potential solution. World War II also casted many different opinions on the issues at hand and how they should be resolved. Franklin Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, and Winston Churchill were all World War II influencers that sought different actions. Roosevelt was an elected leader, who wanted to get along and open trade with others.  He most closely resembled Ralph in the story, as William Golding portrayed Ralph as charismatic, protagonist and the elected leader. Roger Daniels, a University of Illinois Press writer, states that “Roosevelt had effective command of military and diplomatic information and unprecedented power over strategic military and diplomatic affairs. He simultaneously created an arsenal of democracy that armed the Allies while inventing the United Nations intended to ensure a lasting postwar peace.” Immediately after being dumped on the island with the boys, Ralph comes up with a system, with similar characteristics to that of Roosevelt.“‘That's what this shell's called. I'll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he's speaking.”’ (Golding 33) is Ralph’s simultaneous response to the need for organization. Ralph functions in Lord of the Flies as Franklin Roosevelt did in World War II. 

Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time of the war and was often labeled as fat, witless, and useless; although, he possessed methodical potential for succeeding in whatever he undertook. Piggy, designated as the same, was humiliated and shunned by all of the boys, much like Churchill was disregarded by his allies.  Although very intelligent, Piggy never spoke up, nor shared his intellect. ‘"I just take the conch to say this. I can't see no more and I got to get my glasses back. Awful things has been done on this island. I voted for you for chief. He's the only one who ever got anything done. So now you speak, Ralph, and tell us what. Or else--" Piggy broke off, sniveling. Ralph took back the conch as he sat down.’ (Golding 132); with this depiction, Golding is making it clear that Piggy is not accepted by, but defends Ralph. “If you are going to make offensive remarks about my chief you will have to leave the table.” was a demand to an insulter by Winston Churchill. This shows the connection between Churchill and Piggy; although thought of as cowards, overweight, and witless, they are intelligent and loyal. 

The antagonist in Lord of The Flies, Jack, is described by William Golding as  “tall, thin, and bony; and his hair was red beneath the black cap. His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of this face stared two light blue eyes, frustrated now, and turning, or ready to turn, to anger.” (Golding 14) A parallel that can be drawn between Jack and Adolf Hitler lies in the type of people that they both strive to get to follow their ideals. 

Both target those who are easily influenced and will not push back against the direction they want to take their respective populations.  Similar to Hitler’s early attempts at power in Germany, Jack did not initially gain power on the island.  After he did not win the early vote to be the leader, he retreated into a submissive state and just bided his time until he could take power forcefully. This is exactly what Hitler did after he lost his first attempt at leading Germany and was arrested.

A significant similarity between the book and World War II were the “non-aggression” pacts between the different characters or sides.  Much like Hitler agreed not to invade Stalin’s Soviet Union, essentially creating a non-aggression pact, Jack and Ralph initially agreed just to go their separate ways.  Just as Hitler tried to surprise Stalin and invade the Soviet Union, Jack made a sneak attack on Ralph to get Piggy’s glasses and more importantly, show he had more power.

Fire in Lord of The Flies is abundant and destructive. In World War II, guns and tanks were manufactured to the extreme, with millions being produced. These weapons produced death, booming noises, and destruction, as does fire. At the end of the book Ralph is being hunted with spears and fire. Golding expresses the alertness and frustration of Ralph when writing “Now the fire was nearer; those volleying shots were great limbs, trunks even, bursting. The fools! The fools! The fire must be almost at the fruit trees--what would they eat tomorrow?” (Golding 154). Jack’s savage tribe might win and execute Ralph, but they will have no shelter and food left to survive. Noises specifically can make a person go insane.

World War II soldiers were often left deaf and impaired by the uproars. Bruce Johnson affirms in his article, Listening to War: Sound, Music, Trauma, and Survival, “One distinctive feature of modernity is the proliferation of constructed sound, to the point where noise pollution is regarded as one of the greatest threats to human well-being.” On the island, the boys throats are constantly howling, the ocean is surging, fire is crackling, rocks are crashing, and the weather is rumbling. These noises impact the childrens’ frame of mind. 

Contrary to this allegorical connection, it is commonly hypothesized that this novel tells the story of the Bible. Many biblical allusions are present throughout, including Simon representing Jesus, the island symbolizing the Garden of Eden, and many other representative characters. However in Lord of The Flies, Ralph indefinitely symbolizes order, leadership, and civilization, Piggy represents the intellectual part of the civilization, and Jack induces savagery and superiority.

William Golding’s Lord of The Flies tells the story of a group of boys, unwillingly deserted on an island, forced to figure out a way to survive. This novel is allegorically associated with World War II and depicts minor and major events. Lord of the Flies draws fictional literary parallels to World War II. Many of the defining drivers of the war are present in the symbolism of the novel.  Just as the orderly conduct of society is disrupted by the differences that lead to war, the discord among the children on the island led to disastrous results, the most being loss of life.

 

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