Lord Of The Flies: Regression of Humanity To go backwards in life means to regress; This is shown excessively throughout the novel Lord Of The Flies by William Golding. It is about young boys who strive to stay civilized but ultimately regress back into a savage phase, where their primal needs for food and shelter dominate. The breaking of the conch shell and the use of face paint and spears demonstrate the regression of the boys which is caused by a lack of law and order, and therefore ends in total destruction of the island.
The conch shell’s original purpose was to create rules in the boys’ lives, however it ends up being destroyed. During an argument between Jack, chief of the hunters, and Ralph, chief of the boys, they say; “The rules! ’ shouted Ralph. ’You’re breaking the rules. ’ ‘Who cares? ’ Because the rules are the only thing we’ve got! ’ ‘Bollocks to the rules! ”(91). This proves that the shell is losing its power and authority to some, mainly Jack. Another example of the boys regressing is the breaking of the conch shell.
When Piggy, an intelligent, but social outcast due to his weight, tries to stand up to Jack, the narrator explains how Roger, one of Jack’s many hunters, pushes a boulder on top of Piggy and Walker shatters the shell; “The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist”(181). This shows how the boys are willing to demolish whatever or whoever comes in their way because there is no law and order to stop them.
The breaking of the conch is a sever sign of regression however, this problem is also caused by the use of face paint. The use of face paint to the boys is to hide their problems and create a new identity for themselves, however Jack chooses to use it in a different way. He explains to Roger what he chooses to use this mask for; “For hunting. Like the war. You know – dazzle paint”(63). This proves that Jack has given up on trying to stay civilized and regrets making that choice so he chooses to lie and portray a new Jack behind the painted on mask.
The narrator also points out; “…the mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid liberated from shame and self-consciousness”(64). This shows how Jack is upset at himself and chooses to use the mask to hide his emotions and problems from the others. The boys face many more issues regarding the face paint, however they also run into similar challenges when using the spears. The spears were merely, suppose to be for hunting, however the boys slowly start to lose sight of that and start using the spears for their own pleasure.
Here is what happens when the narrator talks about one of their pig hunts; Here struck down by the heat, the sow fell and the hunters hurled themselves at her…Roger ran round the heap, prodding with his spear whenever pigflesh appeared…Roger found a lodgment for his point and began to push till he was leaning with his whole weight(135). Walker This shows how the boys, especially Roger, use the spears to fulfill their own satisfaction by torturing and killing this mother sow and in doing so they also kill her newborn piglets.
The boys also use the spears when they decapitate the sow. The narrator says; “Jack held up the head and jammed the soft throat on the pointed end of the stick which pierced through into the mouth” (136-137). This shows that the boys are regressing because in civilization, they would never decapitate any creature or human. From little steps like the conch shell shattering, and the use of face paint and spears, the boys’ utter madness turns into total destruction of the island.
The island is demolished because the survivors, who are now hunters, turn against Ralph and try to kill him the same way they killed the sow. To make it easier on themselves, Jack orders the hunters to set the island on fire, however this is ironic because by setting the island on fire, they caught the attention of a passing ship which was suppose to be the original purpose of building a fire. Works Cited Golding, William. Lord Of The Flies. New York, NY: The Putnam Publishing Group, 1954. Print