Monday, January 2, 2017

Blog #18: The line between civilization and savagery

Due: Monday, January 16 by the end of the day
Word Count: 650
Textual References and Links to sources: 3-4 (or more)

Note: Please cite page numbers and specific passages from the novel to support your inferences and conclusions. We will be using these questions and your conclusions, questions, and insights to spark classroom discussion on Wednesday.

Example citation:

Scout says that "Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it" (Lee 4). She seems to be trying to emphasize not just the age of the town, but also the slowness of the town, the values of the people, and the way that summer heat made everything drag on.


This isn’t the first time we see one of the Price women choosing materialism over God, despite Nathan’s harsh beatings and warnings. On page 363, Rachel reaches for her mirror instead of for her Bible, explaining “[ . . . ] it didn’t seem worth saving at that moment, so help me God. It had to be my mirror.” Whether this shows rebellion or just the simplistic mindset of a 15-year-old teenage girl, I’m not sure. Perhaps she was, in her own, small way, rebelling from Nathan. But maybe she just wanted to make sure that no matter where she went in Africa, she would always know the state of her appearance. That seems pretty likely.

  1. When Lord of the Flies was first released in 1954, Golding described the novel's theme in a publicity questionnaire as "an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature." Plato's Republic attempts to address the defects of individuals through examining a society. What connections can you make between The Republic and The Lord of the Flies? Play special attention to issues surrounding the development of a just individual.
  2. What connections can you make between the roles that laws, morals, and ethics play in our society - and the development of individuals - and the role they play in the world of Lord of the Flies?
  3. Examine the way that the conflict on the island developed and shaped the characters and their morals. Look at the role of preserving old ways and the way the situation created new ways of problem solving, both positive and negative.
  4. Discuss the development of norms on the island and between the boys as compared to the previous norms the boys have had. In what ways are norms more powerful than ethics and laws?
  5. The rescue of the boys is a controversial way to end the book. The boys are left with the guilt of their actions, but are they responsible for them? Are the boys truly accountable for their actions?
  6. Lord of the Flies once again sparks a "Good Leader vs Good Person" debate in the characters of Ralph and Jack. One has leadership placed upon him while the other covets the position. What does this reveal about leadership in general and the way our leaders work today. Consider Taite's presentation on sociopaths, psychopaths, and good leaders. 
  7. The island was a "paradise", which allowed the boys to survive rather easily. Their life on the island is free from drama besides increasing heat. Do you agree with what William Golding seems to be saying about human nature leading us toward savagery even without conflict to guide it? Why or why not?
  8. The Beast and The Lord of the Flies are pivotal characters in the book despite not existing in physical form. How do these things further the plot line and reveal essential truths about the characters and human nature?
  9. Explore the life of William Golding. What about his life experience is revealed in this book and the allegories it contains?
  10. If you have a question that isn't addressed here but you feel like you can explore with text references and inferences, feel free to explore it. Also, you are welcome to combine multiple questions in order to make a point. 
Possible ideas to explore that were brought up in seminars and classroom discussion:
  • The difference between civilization and savagery
  • Laws, Morals, and Ethics
  • Symbolism and Allegories within the text
  • Original Sin and Evil
  • Leadership and Authority
  • Connections with modern politics or society
  • The defects of society as a reflection of the defects in human nature
    • A reverse look at The Republic as compared to Lord of the Flies
  • Justice
  • Making connections with other works we've read
  • Fear and Hope as driving forces for behavior and motivation
  • World War II
Suggested topics from Spark Notes:
* The sample reader's notebook above is done by a senior in high school with a lot of experience writing these notebooks. It is also over 600 words longer than the entry you are expected to create. No pressure.

1. Of all the characters, it is Piggy who most often has useful ideas and sees the correct way for the boys to organize themselves. Yet the other boys rarely listen to him and frequently abuse him. Why do you think this is the case? In what ways does Golding use Piggy to advance the novel’s themes?
2. What, if anything, might the dead parachutist symbolize? Does he symbolize something other than what the beast and the Lord of the Flies symbolize?
3. The sow’s head and the conch shell each wield a certain kind of power over the boys. In what ways do these objects’ powers differ? In what way is Lord of the Fliesa novel about power? About the power of symbols? About the power of a person to use symbols to control a group?
4. What role do the littluns play in the novel? In one respect, they serve as gauges of the older boys’ moral positions, for we see whether an older boy is kind or cruel based on how he treats the littluns. But are the littluns important in and of themselves? What might they represent?

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