Impacts of Fear

Fear is an unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined.  When fear comes into play, its strength can affect a person’s willingness to take risks, our choice to pursue the unknown, or even their ability to accomplish a goal. In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, the schoolboys who are stranded on the island have a fear of not being able to survive without any adults in a new society empty of order and rules. The fear that builds within each of the boys makes them hallucinate and believe a “beast” exists, which is a projection of the their combined fear. This terror motivates the young boys to try their hardest to survive, but, amidst overcoming their fears, their panic overwhelms their ability to make rational decisions.

In the beginning of Lord of the Flies, in fear of having no adults, the boys decide to select a leader from their group. When Ralph becomes leader, he chooses to make a group of hunters. His choice to divide and conquer is in reaction to his yearning for rescue from the island and survival. Ralph pushes through all his fears of the unknown because he, like the other boys, wishes to survive. He masks his fear with his strength to make the boys believe that everyone will overcome their isolation on the island. “That was nightmare,’ said Ralph. ‘He was walking in his sleep.” (85) In this quote Ralph is acting like he is not feared by the horror nightmare that all the boys silenced because of how the vivid dream terrified them. The boys were scared while Ralph acting like he didn’t care at all. To motivate himself as leader, he had to show all bravery and that nothing phased him. In order to show why he is leader, he must overcome his own mind. If the other boys saw him scared, he would have no order or followers.

An example of this behavior also took place when the Cold War happened. The Cold War was a war used to end international affairs. This was right after the World War II. A senator named Joseph McCarthy, he made the citizens feel discomfort. This is a connection to the book because the boys felt discomfort and were terrified and McCarthy made the people of America feared. The people were in fear of something that they weren’t even sure was that real, they were scared of the discomfort of the new senator, the war, the way things were being handled. This related to the book because the books feared everything of being alone without any adults and the leadership they were under was just someone who knew not much more than them and they had no control. This also relates to the idea of power and civilization. Over all, the presence of fear impacts or overpowers human beings’ ability to make decisions and find comfort in encountering the unknown.

In the novel, Jack, of the boys stuck on the island, was a kid who tried to overthrow Ralph for his power of the leader. Jack is power hungry and tries to get the boys to abandon Ralph. Jack calls for a meeting, and he tells everyone that there is a beast. Ralph doesn’t know what to say so Jack suggests that the boys come with him. He creates a hierarchy by gathering his new group and just naming himself the leader. “Henry brought him a shell and he drank, watching Piggy and Ralph over the jagged rim. Power lay in the brown swell of his forearms: authority sat on his shoulder and chattered in his ear like an ape.” To avoid any problem or life threats, the younger boys bowed to Jack’s needs. The beast was the first thing they all shared, as Jack became more violent, he was the new chief. In a way, he was becoming the very monster they once ran from. He was no longer just a 12 year old boy, he was the ruler of fear.

In conclusion, the feeling of fear has ability to be the controlling or the controlled. There is fear in every one of the boys’ hearts. They have been torn of their innocence, and rational mentality becomes the irrational. When approached with a life threatening experience, it makes people motivated to do whatever is possible to survive. Survival at all cost, even if it means savagery and loss of order.