Environmental Impact on Human Behavior

How does environment impact human behavior? Environment is an extremely important part of one’s life because it determines how someone is as a person. That then allows for there to be a question of how human behavior triggers rituals? Rituals are a big part of people’s lives whether religious or not; some rituals include daily routines. People tend to be passionate about rituals, due to their environment, and the fact that it allows them to escape stressful situations by engaging in activities. As a result, people commit to these thoroughly, which has a strong impact on their behavior, which can result in hidden danger toward others and themselves.

In the book, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, it portrays many examples on how environment affects human behavior in rituals. It is about a large group of boys who are stuck on an island trying to survive and govern themselves till help comes. After a series of events, the boys or the littluns come across the belief that there is “the beast.” They believe different possibilities on what the beast could be and how the island creates it. In reality, the beast is a dead parachuter that fell from aircrafts in the middle of the book. The dead body casts a shadow which fears the littluns. ‘“We began well; we were happy. And then-,” said Ralph… The vivid horror of this, so nakedly terrifying, held them silent… the platform was full of arguing, gesticulating shadows… seemed to be the breaking up of sanity… “If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat!” said Jack.’ (Pg. 82-91) The beast is apart of the flaws of the island. It brings out the savagery and the animalistic side in the littluns because they get continuous thoughts to kill it. Each one of the littluns have disorderly thoughts and fear about the beast and Golding displays the dark side of human nature when in danger. The beast becomes a dominant force in their lives creating madness between each other and arguments, but it also becomes a ritual. Everything was normal in the beginning until things like “the beast” caused change and brought up a fear within the littluns. Everyday after that, they gradually became paranoid and got the feeling to get rid of this so called “beast” so it wouldn’t be a worry for them anymore. This becomes a daily ritual for them. This supports the claim of the littluns being passionate about the rituals and it overtaking them. By analysing this, it is uncovered that the children don't realize that their environment are affecting them and it is going to lead the situation to become more detrimental and violent or someone being harmed.

These situations explained in Lord of the Flies also takes place in the real world, one example  is the KKK. The KKK, which stands for the Klu Klux Klan, is a racist extremist movement group and they are perpetrators of violence for racial segregation and white supremacy. The Klu Klux Klan showed up after the Civil War and targeted blacks and anyone who supported their rights. They terrorized black homes, lynched and tortured them. The KKK burned crosses, had rallies, bombed black schools and churches, and condemned blacks, immigrants, Catholics, and Jews. In Public Torture Lynchings in Twentieth Century America, the author David Garland talks about public lynchings by the KKK that involved rituals. It mentions, “Nearly 30 years after emancipation… Southern crowds began to torture and burn alleged offenders ferocity and public ceremony. These new kinds of lynching occurred throughout the south... nearly 4,000 lynchings were recorded.” The loss of black slaves for Southerners was so difficult that they felt a piece of their lives gone. They felt that the sole purpose for the blacks was to serve them so in retaliation they burned their bodies and lynched over thousands of them. Their rituals included bonfires and chanting. People engrossed in rituals to achieve a set of desired outcomes and the KKK’s environment once consisted of all whites and the fact that the blacks were gaining rights disturbed them so the thoughts of destroying them clouded their minds and controlled them. That led them to create catastrophic rituals and murdering thousands of innocent people. In a different perspective, from a victim of the KKK who reported to the website, EyeWitness to History, Ben Johnson tells the audience about witnessing lynchings and his experiences with the KKK after the Civil War. Ben was born a slave in 1848, and was being interviewed by the Federal Writers’ Project who were recollecting stories from former slaves. “I never will forget when they hung Cy Guy. They hung him… They scratches Cy’s arm to get some blood… any nigger what takes down the body shall be hanged too. Nobody would bother with that body for four days an’ there it hung, swinging in the wind…” The KKK would do anything to keep their white supremacy and they were fervent about it in their rituals. They wouldn't let anyone interfere and if they did they would be punished as well. From the quote, it seems like Ben couldn't have done anything and the KKK made them helpless. They were so consumed into these violent rituals because of black people around their environment and that impacted their mind, body and soul because they could not stop and further killing more people. The Klan members wore masks and wore white robes and hoods and made attacks at night much like the children who wore paint to represent themselves. They cold heartedly murdered, and whipped them reminding them of their lives as slaves.

Towards the end of the story in the chapter View to Death, in Lord of the Flies, Jack slowly separates from Ralph and creates his own tribe. He convinces some of the littluns to join him and they go out to hunt and eventually kill a sow. Afterwards, they eat the sow and celebrate. ‘“The hunters took their spears, the cooks took spits, and the rest clubs of firewood. A circling movement developed and a chant… “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”’ (Pg. 151-152) The children are so into the ritual and celebrating their sacrifices that they are being consumed by chaotic thoughts to kill because of the island. The children being on the island and it’s dark aura caused them to have a change in their behavior. The fact that they were staying on the island with no adults, no sense of security, and no form of control over their minds it caused them to become something that was not their normal selves. The children have no idea what they were doing because they were being controlled by the ritual in a negative way. The chants, dancing, and warpaint that were occurring continuously is a way for them to forget about their troubles but eventually led them to harm people. They kill two of the children and believing that it was “the beast.” They are allowing the environment having an influence over them.

Environment will always be apart of human identity and it will always affect them in some shape or form. It will lead people to be ardent towards their rituals in their lives. Rituals are a type of solution for people and will always be a strong impact on them and the people around them either in a positive or negative way.

Works Cited:

Gavins, Raymond. The Cambridge Guide to African American History. N.p.: Cambridge UP, 2016. Print. <https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=NRl-CwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA157&dq=KKK+rituals&ots=gFnAKyABhU&sig=


History.com Staff. "Ku Klux Klan." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 01 Jan. 2009. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <http://www.history.com/topics/ku-klux-klan>.

"Resistance." National Great Blacks In Wax Museum. The National Great Blacks, n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <http://www.greatblacksinwax.org/Exhibits/lynching.htm>.

Garland, David. "Penal Excess and Surplus Meaning: Public Torture Lynchings in Twentieth-Century America." - Garland. The Law and Society Association, Dec. 2005. Web. 06 Apr. 2016, <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540-5893.2005.00245.x/full>.

Johnson, Ben. "The Klu Klux Klan, 1868." EyeWitness to History.com. Ibis Communications, n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2016.


Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Perigee, 2006. Print.