Study Guide

The Flies Man and the Natural World

By Jean-Paul Sartre

Man and the Natural World

The Flies explores the fundamental difference between man and everything else in the universe. According to Jean-Paul Sartre and his existentialism, man exists in a way entirely different from other forms. Man exists as being-for-itself (a conscious and active form of being). Creatures, objects, plants, nature, and anything else exist as being-in-itself (a passive, unconscious mode of being). Because of this difference, man exists outside of and separate from all of nature. Man chooses how to interpret nature and what value it will hold for him; but man is not a part of nature.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. According to Sartre's arguments in The Flies, what differentiates man from the rest of the natural world?
  2. What is the relationship between man and the natural world in The Flies? How does man exist in and react to the world around him?
  3. When and how is violence employed in The Flies? What purpose does it serve?

Chew on This

Biological instincts conflict with human freedom in Sartre's The Flies.