Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
Lord of the Flies Theme of Rules and Order
Be honest. If you woke up tomorrow and every adult on the planet had vanished, what would you do? (For the adults out there: what if you woke up and every police officer and credit rating bureau on the planet had vanished?) Would you dutifully get out of bed, brush your teeth, and head to school to try to organize the remaining kids into a democratic society? Or would you turn on the TV, break out the Hot Cheetos, and have a Halo marathon (assuming the power grid was still working)?
Yeah, we thought so. Cheetle isn't exactly war paint, but Golding's point holds: humans are basically corrupt and inherently evil. Rules and order keep people from their true, violent natures. Lord of the Flies tells us that, as soon as you put people outside of a system with punishments and consequences, they'll get busy destroying themselves. Rules may seem pointless, but they're the only things keeping us alive.
Questions About Rules and Order
- Ralph's attempted system of law lasts about five minutes before breaking down. Does Jack take over with anarchy, or with his own system of laws? Is anarchy really just another system, no different than any other arbitrary set of values?
- What makes the system of laws disintegrate on the island? Whose fault is it?
- Sam and Eric teeter between Ralph's orderly camp and Jack's rebellious one. Are they good, law-abiding guys, or do they just end up being bad guys?
- Are there any "good guys" on the island? Or are there really any "bad guys?" Is there such thing as good vs. bad at all? Or are there just humans, and that's how we are, and we should all stop passing judgment?
Chew on This
In Lord of the Flies, rules and order are only as powerful as people agree they are.
Golding suggests that rules and order are the only thing keeping civilization from breaking down.