The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, is a story of several young boys between the ages of four and twelve who become stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane was shot down. At first they all make efforts to survive, such as calling assemblies, building fires and smoke signals, gathering fruit and water, killing pigs for meat, and building shelters. The older boys take leadership positions while the younger boys play, and a “chief” is elected to preside over assemblies and to organize the boys. However, after being on the island for quite a while without any adults to guide them, their efforts begin to fail. This is due to the many conflicts that arise between the boys.
One of the most obvious conflicts seen in the novel is that between Ralph and Jack. Ralph is the more logical of the two, and is always trying to organize the boys. His idea of using the conch as a means of communication and as a way of calling assemblies demonstrates his need for order. In some cases, his decision that only the person holding the conch can speak prevented everyone from talking at once and causing chaos. Later in the novel Jack destroys the conch when he kills Piggy, symbolizing the end of Ralph’s system of order and Jack’s love for chaos. Ralph feels very strongly that they will be rescued from the island if they keep a strong fire burning and keep producing smoke. He reprimands Jack for letting the fire go out while the choir was hunting, but Jack feels that hunting was more important to him. This marks the beginning of many of the conflicts between Jack and Ralph. It leads to the break up of the tribe under Ralph into two separate groups, one led by Ralph and the larger led by Jack. Jack is obsessed with the violence and the power he experiences in killing the pigs and dancing, and Ralph is obsessed with being rescued. The two cannot seem to compromise no matter how hard Ralph tries. Also, Ralph wants to get things done on the island, whereas Jack just wants dancing, feasts, and fun. This also leads to the split up of the tribes.
Another important conflict is the one between all of the boys and Piggy. Piggy is one of the older boys, and he is very chubby. When he asks Ralph not to tell the boys that his nickname is Piggy Ralph tells them anyway, and they laugh at him. After that instance the boys have no respect for Piggy at all, especially Jack. Even though Piggy is very logical and intelligent, whenever he tries to speak Jack tells him to shut up. Ralph is even guilty of this, although he recognizes and respects Piggy’s rationale. No one listens to Piggy’s speeches about the fire, and Jack makes fun of Ralph for always defending him. Piggy is always left to watch over the younger boys and never has the adventures that Ralph and Jack do. It is also evident that the boys use Piggy for his glasses. The glasses are the only way the boys have of creating their fire on the mountain, and they often take them from Piggy despite his protests. Jack’s tribe even steals then from him at night to start their own fire.
A major conflict seen throughout the novel is the conflict between the boys and their fear. The first fear the boys experience is the fact that they are alone on an island with no adults. Piggy is the first to express this fear when he first meets Ralph in the jungle. As they begin to live on the island, the little boys have nightmares about a “beastie”, stemming from their fear of what lives in the forest and the fact that there are no adults to comfort them or explain things to them. Their nightmares begin to scare the older boys, and Ralph decides to call a meeting to discuss their fear. The meeting causes everyone to become afraid, and by then almost everyone believes in the beast. When a dead paratrooper falls from the sky after a battle, the twins Sam and Eric see the man being moved by the parachute and think it is the beast. The other boys become afraid, and they decide to avoid the mountain where the “beast” is. This fear of the beast leads to Simon’s death, as the boys think he is the beast, and even after they realize he’s a boy they keep beating him because they are caught up in the moment.
Golding’s novel shows many conflicts, such as conflicts between characters, conflicts between characters and nature, and conflicts between characters and their emotions. The most important of these conflicts is the conflict of Ralph versus Jack. It is the most symbolic and the most obvious. It reveals the two sides of humans, the side that desires order, and the side that desires anarchy. It can also symbolize the conflict between civilization and savagery, Ralph being civilization, and Jack being the savage. A secondary conflict is the one between the boys and Piggy, making Piggy seem like the negitive side when he is really the logical one. The conflict between the boys and their fear displays every human’s fear of the unknown, especially the irrational fears of children.