Literature is the true depiction of life. It is the art to show the reality of life and that reality can be handed down through generations. Literature of a particular age is the mirror image of its social, political, religious and philosophical situations. WILLIAM J. LONG describes this fact as, 'behind every book is a man; behind the man is the race; and behind the race are the natural and social environments whose influence is unconsciously reflected'. The writers have always shown the real face of society, its positive as well as negative aspects. Even the great wars have been vividly and explicably discussed along with their devastating effects on human beings. War and literature is inseparable. Literature is like amaranth, having blossom and hue of beauty and ugliness of event. If war is process then literature is product. The impact of war on literature cannot be denied.
Similarly, the writers of postwar age have portrayed the contemporary issues which would be quite elusive to understand if not available in the form of literature. They portrayed the whole scenario in the form of poetry, novels, short stories, journals. Keith Douglas, a soldier and poet of the world war two writes that, "the behavior of the living and the appearance of the dead were so accurately described by the poets of the Great War that every day on the battlefields of the western desert . . . their poems are illustrated". Man likes to show his emotions, feelings as well as his surrounding and any war of his age 'through fiction'.
William Gerald Golding being in Royal Navy, witnessed the war and post war time. According to him, the 'war taught' him and inspired him to give vent to his perception of wartime in the form of a literary piece; Lord of the Flies. He himself admitted the reality that it was the post war period that motivated him to produce this piece of literature, 'finding out what people had done to each other after the war, made me to write it'.
As a "universal pessimist", William Golding (1911-1993) wrote Lord of the Flies in 1954, shortly after World War II, a war in which the western democracies triumphed over the fascist countries of Germany, Italy, and Japan. Golding must have had the recent war in mind when he penned Lord of the Flies. Novel is a social commentary and as allegory for WW2. Golding clearly believes that war is in human nature that even civilization and the rules of society are incapable of preventing war, the raw human nature espousing destruction through war cannot be held back. Golding asserted, "I had discovered what one man could do to another".
Generally, Golding wrote this novel about human nature but allegorically it depicts the post war trauma. Germany attacked London for 71 times during the war (Sep, 1940- March1941). These London belts caused numerous deaths and consequently it was the period of despair, grief and disorder prevailed for a long time. For Adorno and Horkheimer, war is a cardinal issue of a civilization, more hazardous than 'a dark spot in the history of civilization'. It destroys the whole course of life and reduces goodness to evil. The morality is subjugated to 'violence'.
War shapes the lives and lives shape the literature of that era. War and literature are inextricable from each other. Literature is influenced by war in one way or another. Literature depicts the heroes and legends of great wars as well as the destruction caused by war. Like other wars in the history, the two consecutive world wars in the first half of twentieth century altered the world in all aspects. According to Jeet Heer war is a calamity for humanity. From the time of Homer, war has been a great literary theme and it provides the dramatic conflict. The relation of war and literature is clearly presented in his words, "war literature seems like an old-fashioned and time-consuming craft. Like psychological therapy, good writing about war is an intermittent process, consuming years if not decades'. Kurt Vonnegut describes the relation of war and literature as, 'it would be easy for me to write about the destruction of Dresden, since all I would have to do would be to report what I had seen'.
Kriston Lentz comments that for William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, the World War II is not only 'backdrop' but provides the plot-base for the story. In the novel, their plane crashed and the boys reached the island as they were evacuated from the country. Their stay on the island is the symbolic representation of the great war in itself. During their stay on the island, they create the same war situation as in the 'adult world'. Jerry Curtis adds, war is the cause of this novel. At the beginning they are 'war refugees', then ironically get involved in the war and at the end, they are rescued by the people from the world of real war. The whole story revolves around the war and its devastating effects.
Kermode describes the wartime as the period in which "the myth of progress has failed; but the rival myth of necessary evil and universal guilt has come back without bringing God back with it". Golding endeavors to capture the trauma, chaos, fear, brutality and madness through the selection of words that gives us new window into the lives of people.
World Wars promoted the atmosphere of bloodshed, because war is hell, begins in illusion and ends in blood and tears. According to Plato "only the dead have seen the end of war" and those who remain alive are like dead. War made the modern man desperate and helpless. In Aristotle words literature being the "more reliable and reasonable" source shows and preserves that despair and helplessness. Thus, the creative effort of William Golding also represents the post war condition in his novel Lord of the Flies.
Various writers and researchers had shed light on different aspects on Golding's novel and analyzed it in post war scenario. Barbara Everette declared that Golding mourned for the suffering of his people. He is the writer of 'lamentations, a cry wrung from the heart". This wailing is for the spiritual predicaments of the disillusioned post war generation.
Baker and Dick have interpreted Lord of the Flies according to Greek tragedy. They argue that Lord of the flies is an allegory on the disintegration of the society due to tragic flaw of human nature. Nevertheless, this flaw is not free from the influence of war. The war shapes our minds and attitudes to behave in a particular way. However, some critics and philosophers say that evil exists in human nature that leads to wars. Likewise, David Spitaz suggests that Golding has written this novel to highlight the evil nature of man. It is the universal fact that man always tries to get power through back door and the producers of this evil or war are not the "head-hunters" or "primitive" tribes, but the educated men, doctors, lawyers, men with traditions and civilization. They do this "skillfully and coldly". Golding believes that a man produces evil as a bee produces honey. David asserts that the roots of evil lay in man and the only enemy of man was himself. The character Jack is authoritarian like Hitler and Mussolini, he come out of authoritarian tradition. He immediately and arrogantly demands a position for himself. The boys in the novel move not from one evil to another evil, but from one aspect to another of the same evil. The evil caused by vicious man is irredeemable.
Similarly, E.C.Bufkin in his article suggests that novel Lord of the Flies is about evil and search for order in the 'disorder' caused by evil. In the novel, boys are in first state innocent and in second state they become primitive. The novel focuses on the loss of innocence and gaining of knowledge of evil that 'corrupts man and darken his heart'.
Joyanta Danger expounds that Golding depicted the desolation of war. He states that war and William Golding, in fact are the two "inextricable" subjects. The trauma of "evacuation" was a direct consequence of World War II. Although this novel is a fiction but it is also an authentic history of the World War II and its psychological aftermath. That war left stirring impact on Golding; he himself admitted, 'The war produced one notable effect on me. It scared me stiff. ' It was the turning point for me. I began to see what people were capable of doing. Where did the Second World War come from? Was it made by something inhuman and alien ' or was it made by chaps with eyes and legs and hearts'?.The boys in Lord of the flies are the representatives of the thousands of the English school boys who had had horrifying experiences during the second World War. The war provoked the nightmare and the violent activities of boys. The unpleasant dreams of boys is symptom of Freud's "traumatic neuroses" and P. R. Robbins "recurrent dreams" caused by war. Thus he mentioned the psychological aftermath observed by man during war, that these children were depressed, insecure and angry due to sudden separation from home and family. Golding boys represent the same phenomena. Several references have been made towards the destruction of war. Piggy's words "they are all dead" indicates that the story takes place at the end of World War 2, after the first bomb has been dropped on Hiroshima.
When William Golding was interviewed, he said, "Lord of the Flies was simply what it seemed sensible for me to write after the war, when everybody was thanking God they were not Nazis. And I'd seen enough and thought enough to realize that every single one of us could be Nazis". Golding told about the struggles between Jack and Ralph, which represents the conflict between Germany and the other countries. Golding really tried to show the evil of Hitler through Jack, when he rolled a rock off the cliff killing Piggy representing the killing of the Jews. The greedy nature of man is represented in the image of Jack, who has jealousy towards Ralph.
According to Marijike Van Vuuren , Lord of the Flies reflects a bleak sense of post war pessimism, the loss of what Golding has called his generation's 'liberal and naive belief in the perfectibility of man'. Golding represent the evil of war through the myth "return to Eden", which explains the loss of innocence, guilt and disgrace, the need for pardon. The evil rendered by war is resembled to original sin that made the lives stunted. This novel is analyzed "archetypical myth, foregrounding the socio-political and moral content". Like original sin the evil of war is fruitless. The beast from the sea depicts man's aspiration of power and anti-Christ people "the man of lawlessness". All the powerful countries have left law and humanity and become demons devouring innocent civilians.
Nina Macdonald says that the whole world is " topsy- turvy" since the war began and this catastrophe is clearly depicted in Lord of the Flies in the form of violence, killing and inhuman brutality.
Sandra M.Gilbert demonstrates that war and literature cannot be separated. The dark implication of war has further implication on literature. Malcolm Braudbuy witness this phenomena as, "many critics have seen the war as...the apocalypse that leads the way into modernism and as violation, intrusion, wound, the source of psychic anxiety and general instability". The novel Lord of the Flies deals with this devastation.
According to Xiaofang Li & Weihua Wu, characters in Lord of the Flies possess "recognizable symbolic significance". The story is set in the social background of WW2, thus Ralph is Chamberlain, Jack Hitler, and Roger is Gestapo. There is resemblance in the characters with the leaders in WW2. The conflict between Ralph and Jack represent the conflict between Chamberlain and Hitler. Roger is the representative of brutality and terror at his extreme. The naval officer stands for the adult who participate in the war
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