What causes human beings to change their behavior? The most considerable influence comes from our environment. Our society depends on structure and governing rules; however, when in isolation of civilization, human beings will change their behavior to fit their circumstances. In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, the author tells a story of a group of schoolboys stranded on an island, isolated from their society, who must learn to survive in an environment to which they are unaccustomed to. Though they try to bring order and rules to their isolated world, they are unable to obey them and, consequently, the boys change from rigid schoolboys who follow orders to savages. Human beings will revert to an uncouth state of being when isolated from rule and order.
In chapter 10 of the book, Jack and Piggy are trying to get a grip of themselves over the killing of Simon, who was mistaken to be the beast (the “monster” the schoolboys began to fear) by Jack and his tribe. Also after the murder of Simon, the tribe gathers around Jack. It reads, “The chief was sitting there, naked to the waist, his face blocked out in white and red.” (160) Before, Jack was only the leader of the choir, which can only be assumed that this means they grew up the Christian way, which in society, is seen as a civilized organization to take part in. This includes believing that God is a spirit creature that can’t be seen and to be modest in clothing. Here, this quote shows quite the opposite. Instead, Jack and the tribe are naked, not even thinking of what they are displaying to each other. Also, in this chapter, they talk about satisfying the “beast” by giving a head of the pig on a stake to it and have a dance to keep the beast away from them. Throughout history, rituals and sacrificing food are ways to worship a god. God cannot be seen as an image. This and the clothing can only be possible because of the isolation from civilization and its rules and order.
An example of this behavior is seen in prisons today. As of today, many prisons are looking into isolations as the answer to rehabilitation for a criminal. However, according to Sadie Dingfelder’s article about the risks prisons take on the prisoners’ mental health with solitary confinement entitled Psychologist Testifies on the Risks of Solitary Confinement, it shows how it “renders many people incapable of living anywhere else.” With this, it shows how many of them aren’t able to act as society orders to. In fact, one prisoner named Anthony Graves recalled how one inmate "would go out into the recreation yard, get naked, lie down and urinate all over himself. He would take his feces and smear it all over his face." This is not civilized behavior at all. As inmates are isolated from the real world, their minds “don't live in the real world anymore.” (Anthony Graves.) Meaning, all rules and orders of society that are meant to be kept up are long gone. They do what they wish to do, despite what their society says. Just as Jack and his tribes (really all the boys) have done when they were on the island.
In chapter 12 of the book, Ralph is trying to get Sam and Eric’s attention without being caught by the tribe. When he did get their attention, the twins warned him, “They hate you, Ralph. They’re going to do you.” (188) As known in civilization, when having an argument, they are to be civilized with this. This includes no exploding anger nor acting out in anger. Instead, society puts show to that they must communicate and be mature with the situation at hand. In the novel, their situation is having people help in surviving on the island and getting the fire going to be rescued. In the beginning, though there were tensions and anger from arguments from Jack and Ralph about the situation, they’ve been as respectful as they can be to each other, with no sudden lashing out of anger. However, as time goes on through the novel and the boys decides to separate themselves, more of their anger and hostility begins to show as the situation is brung to the surface again and again. Up to this point in time, where the only solution to Jack and his tribe to solve the situation is to kill out of anger. This is not what society promotes.
This scene is similar to many prisons today. Many prisons struggle to keep down the violence within them. An article from BBC News states “For months there has been huge concern about conditions in prisons, escalating levels of violence, self-harm and suicide.” Many come into prison with violence a part of them. To tone it down, in the US, many prisons are turning to solitary confinement as a way to solve the problem. According to the article Alone, in ‘the Hole’ by Kirsten Weir, the segregation from human contact “has never been proven to make prisons safer.” Many are in constant fear of each other hurting them. So, to protect themselves and survive from the violence, they act out violently, instead of seeking help or talk things out civilly. Whether it be instrumental violence, expressive violence, or self-harm. They need to eliminate the situation with violence, just as Jack and his tribes tries to do in the novel.
As shown, whether through the real world or through books, rule and order is needed in order for people to never revert back into an uncivilized state of being. What if everyone had a sense of mind where they think through a situation? What would happen if the logical part of us would take over, as it seems to have done with Piggy? Instead of having emotions take control of our actions, our actions can be justified with logic. As a result, even in isolation, human beings will be able to have order and civilized manners within themselves and situations can be handled properly. Just as it should be.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Penguin, 2006.
Dingfelder, Sadie. Psychologist testifies on the risks of solitary confinement. APA. October 2012. <http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/10/solitary.aspx>
Weir, Kristen. Alone, in ‘the hole’. APA. May 2012. <http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/05/solitary.aspx>
Prison staff shortages leave jails facing 'bloodbaths' - union. BBC News. November 2, 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-37842500>