Comparison Of Lord Of The Flies And All Quiet On The Western Front Essay

An author’s view of human behavior is often reflected in their works.

The novels All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and Lord
of the Flies by William Golding are both examples of works that demonstrate
their author’s view of man, as well his opinion of war.

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Golding’s Lord of the Flies is highly demonstrative of Golding’s
opinion that society is a thin and fragile veil that when removed shows man
for what he truly is, a savage animal. Perhaps the bet demonstration of
this given by Golding is Jack’s progression to the killing of the sow.

Upon first landing on the island Jack, Ralph, and Simon go to survey their
new home. Along the way the boys have their first encounter with the
island’s pigs. They see a piglet caught in some of the plants. Quickly
Jack draws his knife so as to kill the piglet. Instead of completing the
act, however, Jack hesitates. Golding states that, “The pause was only
long enough for them to realize the enormity of what the downward stroke
would be.” Golding is suggesting that the societal taboos placed on
killing are still ingrained within Jack. The next significant encounter in
Jack’s progression is his first killing of a pig. There is a description
of a great celebration. The boys chant “Kill the pig. Cut her throat.

Spill her blood.” It is clear from Golding’s description of the revelry
that followed the killing that the act of the hunt provided the boys with
more than food. The action of killing another living thing gives them
pleasure. The last stage in Jack’s metamorphosis is demonstrated by the
murder of the sow. Golding describes the killing almost as a rape. He
says, “Jack was on top of the sow, stabbing downward wherever pig flesh
appeared … Jack found the throat, and the hot blood spouted over his
hands. The sow collapsed under them and they were heavy and fulfilled upon
her.” In this case it is certain that animal savagery is displayed by the
boys. Because they have been away from organized society for such a long
time, the boys of the island have become Golding’s view of mankind, vile,
destructive beasts.

Although Golding shows that the longer one is away from society the
closer to his view one becomes, the institution of civilization does not
escape his criticism. Golding shows through many examples that those who
are “civilized” are just as prone to violence and war as those who are
isolated. The first example presented in the novel occurs when the boys
attempt to emulate the British democratic government. The boys prize the
adults that run the government as the best decision makers. It is these
“civilized” adults, however, who started the war which has forced the boys
onto the island.Also, in their mimicking of adult society, one of the
first things that the boys do is establish the choir as an army or a group
of hunters. Another of the criticisms of orderly society comes when Ralph
asks for a sign from the adult world. Ralph does receive his sign in the
form of a dead parachute shot down in an air battle above the island. This
can be interpreted as saying that the savagery existent in man is even
shown in the so called “civilized” world through acts of war. Golding
clearly sees war as an action of destruction caused by man because of his
inherently feral nature.

While Golding views man as a brutal creature whose vile traits are
brought out by isolation from society, Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western
Front displays a remarkably contrasting opinion of humanity. Where
Golding’s characters become increasingly more sadistic when placed in a
difficult circumstance, those of Remarque manage to actually grow more
caring and develop a feeling of comradeship. It is clear that despite the
fact that Remarque’s main character and narrator, Paul B?umer, is taking
part in a war and killing others, he is not a brutal disgusting creature.

Even on the front, where Paul is in danger of losing his life, he acts in a
way directly contrasting Golding’s view of man as a vicious hunter. Paul
is faced with a French soldier who he is to throw a grenade at. Upon seeing
his face, however, Paul hesitates to toss the lethal weapon, as he now
recognizes that this soldier is a person probably much like himself. This
is obviously against Golding’s opinion. In the two murders that occur in
Lord of the Flies, those of Piggy and Simon, the killers do not care about
what they are doing as they are caught up in the intense feeling of the
kill. Another example of Remarque’s view of man is the reaction of Paul to
the Russian soldiers that have been captured. He gives them cigarettes and
food. He deeply sympathizes with their situation despite being their enemy
in name. This is again an act of kindness and uncalled for altruism,
something directly against Golding’s perceptions.

As Remarque’s views of the nature of man differs form Golding, so does
his opinion about war. Unlike Golding, who feels that war is a result of
man’s natural cruelty and innate desire to hurt others, Remarque is of the
opinion that war is began because of a few people in power, not all of
humanity. At one point in All Quiet on the Western Front one of the
characters, Albert Kropp, suggests that “a deceleration of war should be a
popular festival with entrance tickets and bands, like a bull fight. Then
in the arena the ministers and generals of the two countries, dressed in
bathing drawers and armed with clubs, can have it out among themselves.”
This opinion is reflective of Remarque’s own. While Golding concentrates
only on the underlying causes of war, Remarque goes on to explain its
horrors, as his is an anti-war novel. Remarque frequently is pointing out
the atrocities of war. While there are countless examples of this in the
novel two of the most striking are the descriptions of the dying horses and
one of the French soldiers. The description that Remarque uses to convey
the image of the dying horses is a very vivid one intended to provoke a
sense of disgust in the reader. He states, “The belly of one is ripped
open, the guts trail out. He becomes tangled in them and falls, then he
stands up again.” Remarque hopes that the anguish of the horses, who were
in no way responsible for their situation, will earn the reader’s sympathy.

The equally graphic picture of the dying French soldier is also intended to
show the reader some of the horror of war. Remarque says, “… a blow form
a spade cleaves through his face. A second sees it and tries to run
farther, a bayonet jabs into his back.”
Remarque and Golding have differing opinions on human nature as well
as war. Golding, through the actions of his characters, attempts to
illustrate that under chaotic circumstances, removed normal society man
reverts to what his nature deems him to be, a destructive creature.

Remarque’s characters, on the other hand, manage to show compassion and
humane treatment of others despite being thrust into a situation more
terrible than that of Golding’s characters. Where Golding feels war is a
result of humankind’s vile nature, Remarque sees it as an evil brought
about by only a select few.


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