The Turn to Corruption

“Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.”(202)An archetype is a pattern or model from which similar characters or plots are based. LOTF exemplifies a situational archetype, ‘The Fall.’ The boys begin full of innocence, following Ralph peacefully, with Jack being only a mild nuisance, to becoming murderous, barbaric followers  of Jack, who has also fallen into a vulgar, ferocious state.

As the story begins, the boys are innocent, then retrogress into a demented state of being by the time they are saved at the end.  At the start of the book, the boys are all obviously children, even still “dressed in schools uniforms,”(18) so they cannot be all that old, meaning that they were headed somewhere for school when they crashed.  When they go off to scout the island, Ralph’s small group took the time to play around and shove a huge boulder over the cliff-face, something any grown-up would never have taken the time to do unless it had a true purpose apart from fun.  When they got hungry and eventually found a piglet, Jack was hesitant to kill it, unable to cut into another living being, though he knew it would have to die for them to eat and survive.


The boys originally follow Ralph, who is a symbol of hope and humanity, and the other children slowly fall away from him and what he stands for.  The conch shell is a symbol of power and respect, and all the boys vote “‘Let him be chief with the trumpet-thing.'” (22) when it comes time to choose a leader. Everyone but Jack agrees in Ralph’s leadership, eventually prompting him to leave them to survive on his own.  Afterwards, some of the others began to leave as well, listening to what Jack had said about Ralph not being leader material.

After leaving Ralph, more and more of the boys are pulled towards Jack, becoming belligerent barbarians, comfortable with murder.  The first to disappear were Maurice, Bill, and Roger, who had begot their own tribe of hunters being led by Jack, who stated “‘We’ll hunt.  I’m going to be chief.’ They nodded, and the crisis passed easily.”(133) with that last part pertaining to the fact that they all immediately agreed he should be chief, no doubts and no rivals for the position.  The only ones left with Ralph at this point are Piggy, Sam and Eric, and the little kids.  At the end of the story, when they have a more established as a proper tribe of sorts, they come after them, even killing Simon and chasing Ralph down by the end of the book, only stopped by the chance run-in with a few adults that happened to be on the island at this point.


        A LOTF situational archetype is ‘The Fall,’ where the boys began full of innocence and eventually lost it, becoming barbarians, falling away from Ralph, beginning to follow Jack, and turn towards savagery and murder.  “What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages?”(91).  That’s not the most feasible question for them to answer, it seems.


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