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Essay: Lord of the Flies and The Toys of Peace – internal conflict between civilization/savagery

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  • Subject area(s): Literature essays
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  • Published: June 17, 2021*
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  • Lord of the Flies and The Toys of Peace - internal conflict between civilization/savagery
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An individual who loses relation with civilization often declines from its firm principles. Mankind’s inclination to regress to savagery is based on the deep-rooted evilness that resides within a person’s nature. The stories Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, and “The Toys of Peace,” by Saki capture this internal conflict between civilization and savagery through the characters in which deprive their sense of morality. Golding’s novel is an allegory that correlates a group of boys’ behaviors to the defects of modern society, which is especially seen upon Jack Merridew––an epitome of one who degrades from humanity’s ethical nature. Similar concepts are seen in Saki’s short story, where civilization among two young boys completely dissipates because of the inner darkness that blinds them from what is good and bad. Through the indirect characterization of the boys’ dialogue and actions, Golding and Saki manifest how once individuals abandon civilization, they lose sight of humanity due to evil’s strengths.

As Jack and the young boys lose connection with civilization, their inherent evil overwhelms them to the extent where they also lose their sanity. When his first attempt at hunting a pig fails, Jack gets upset over his cowardice; thus, the emotions induce him to accomplish this hunt next time. Upon slaughtering the pig with a group of boys, Jack becomes overjoyous by his deed and lauds, “There were lashings of blood, you should have seen it!” (Golding 69). By becoming exhilarated and satisfied over such dark impulses is when his civilization starts growing gray. Jack’s inherent evil disrupts his mentality, allowing him to desire for more lust and kills; therefore, separating from the civilized values he has prior to arriving on the island. Jack mirrors those who go insane and bloodthirsty by exposure to savagery, and because of this exposure does the inner evil take over one’s identity from the lights of civilization. Furthermore, in “The Toys of Peace,” two young boys Bertie and Eric manipulate civilized toys into spiteful figures that they learn from school. As the boys’ uncle Harvey continually presents toys––by which are suppose to attract them into objects less intimidating––Bertie and Eric portray no interest and rather associate violence with every claim he explains. Once given the toys, however, do they rejoice with them, yet the boys do it in a way that deem the civilized figures as violent objects. They reenact the toys into “soldiers” that “rush in” with “the utmost savagery”, establishing them into barbaric characters (Saki 5). Not only do the boys’ manipulation of civilization imply their detachment from it, but also exhibits how powerful the true colors of evil overtake moral values. The evil within Bertie and Eric is deeply ingrained where it continuously makes them see the darker viewpoints in every prospect, as they neglect civilization’s true importance. Due to the boys’ intensifying detachment from civilization, both authors unblur the lines between civilization and evil by subtly straying the characters from what is good; thus, reinforcing influences of the evil that is among man.

Because the evil within the boys has powerful deep roots, attempts by an external force to prevent the inner evil from truly releasing fails due to its primitiveness. With the attempts to stop further impairment of the boys’ morality, all is unachievable in the end when the close ties upon civilization befall, which is seen amongst Jack. Piggy, the voice of intelligence, is aware that Jack’s aggressiveness is overwhelming; thus, in an attempt to prevent further evolvement of evil, he makes sensible retorts and changes that can help to sustain Jack. Jack, however, in return, responds hostily, “Eat! Damn you!” (Golding 74). Jack evidently portrays no acknowledgement of his wrongdoing actions. Although he perceives his choices as something prideful and overpowering, ultimately it corrupts not only himself, but the others around him as well. Initially, Harvey’s and his wife’s experimental goal is to stop the children from placing hostility into toys; however, the results were ultimately different from expectations, as the boys persist their uncivilized activities. While providing background on the toy figures’ past deeds with a sense of civilization, no evidence of change is occurring within the boys’ mindsets. So, when Harvey approaches his wife to notify the outcomes, he shares, “[the experiment] has failed. We have begun too late” (Saki 6). The failure of the experiment parallels how the savagery within the boys have already taken over their civilized values so intensely that it becomes too late to change them back. It further implies how society in general resorts to their primitive instincts rather than being influenced by an external force. In both of these occasions, authors make the attempts to prevent Jack and the two boys from consolidating their evil instincts fail. By doing so, Golding and Saki epitomize them as the definition of mankind’s essential illness; not only is evil among man, but evil serves as a component of human nature that is intangible once it envelops one’s civilized ideals.

When darkness prevails within Jack and the boys, both authors emphasize how individuals are susceptible to their underlying savagery regardless of age. Society is vulnerable against this evil that ultimately causes a person to distant from the goodness of mankind. Although in “Toys of Peace” the kids do not execute hostility with one another in comparison to Jack, but the major issue is indirectly seen through their dialogue and actions: mankind’s regression to human nature’s inherent darkness in spite of civilization’s values. Since this aspect of evil is apart of humanity, once one succumbs to the evil do lines between civilization and savagery blur within them and does civilization cease to exist.

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