The Effect of the Social Hierarchy
26 March 2019
The Effect of the Social Hierarchy
William Golding’s, Lord of The Flies, depicts how being stranded on an island affects a group of prepubescent boys. It explores ideas about human behavior, human nature and at what point the boys begin to abandon their civility. The novel illustrates what aspects of society would stay the same in this situation, as well as the disparities that there would be. One constant that was shown is how instantaneously someone is repudiated. The need to create a hierarchy in their society acted rapidly, leaving certain boys at the bottom of their fabricated class system. William Golding wrote the Lord of the Flies with the intention of symbolizing how people are unfairly misrepresented and mistreated due to social hierarchies.
In the novel, it is quickly decided who will be the leader of the group, but it was also decided who the outcasts of the group would be. Upon their first introductions, one of the main characters, Piggy, was called this name despite not wanting to be, saying “‘You told ‘em. After what I said.’ ‘About being called Piggy. I said I didn’t care as long as they didn’t call me Piggy; an’ I said not to tell and then you wen an’ said straight out-’, ” (25) . It is implied that Piggy was given this nickname by former classmates and possibly bullies, based off of his appearance. Being called Piggy makes him feel inferior because of its connotation and origin. Despite Ralph’s intentions not being malicious, he still misidentified him and gave the rest of the boys a demeaning name to call him. He is unaware that this will lead to him being tormented and continuously ridiculed.
The boys desire for an informal social class system can be related to that of our current society. Many groups of people are still marginalized and pushed to the bottom of our social hierarchy, namely, people of color, women and members of the LGBTQ community. Specifically, the world still struggles with the acceptance of transgender people and tend to regard them as less than human. One big issue that they face is being misidentified, whether intentional or incidental. In an article recently published by CNN, Jen Christensen wrote about the issue of the identities of murdered trans people being misconstrued in the media. The simple act of not calling someone by their proper name or labeling them as the incorrect gender invalidates them as people. It makes the person being misidentified feel inferior and creates an unnecessary divide between them and everyone around them. It has been established in society that referring to someone by their name, as opposed to not, is a way to show respect. People take the opportunity to disregard this when interacting with and talking about transgender people, and feed into the power that they hold over them, treating them as lesser. This is similar to Piggy being misidentified because both are not respectfully being referred to as how they identify as.
For both Piggy and Simon, the effects of being forced to the lower levels of their island’s social hierarchy are catastrophic. As the novel progresses, Piggy and Simon become more and more susceptible to ridiculement and persecution, which leads to their inexorable deaths. In addition their deaths were treated with a sense of nonchalance from all of the boys, with only one of the characters, Ralph, being the exception. On page 157, in reference to Simon’s death, Golding writes Piggy saying, “Coming in the dark-he hadn’t no business crawling like that out of the dark. He was batty. He asked for it,” (157). The boys were not just reluctant to take responsibility for what they had done but Piggy also insisted that Simon was partially responsible. They felt that Simon was not entitled to their respect or even recognition that he had been murdered by them. His status among the rest of the boys resulted in his death being written off as an accident. Piggy’s death, which happens not long after that of Simon, is also dealt with in a negligent matter. A character in the book, Jack, used Piggy’s murder as a warning and a threat for Ralph. Who was allowed no time to mourn the death of his friend, because of how quickly him dying was brushed under the rug. “This time the silence was complete. Ralph’s lips formed a word but no sound came. Suddenly Jack bounded out from the tribe and began screaming wildly. ‘See? See? That’s what you’ll get? I mean that!” (181). Golding even writes that Piggys, as well as Simons, body was washed away by the water surrounding the island soon after his death. Further insinuating the lack of importance that Simon and Piggy had in relation to the rest of the boys on the island.
These events in the book are comparable to how the murders of transgender people are underreported by the media. Their deaths are periodically overlooked by media outlets and forgotten by society. Despite the magnitude of murders of transgender people, the overall coverage and recognition of the tragedies that face this community is miniscule, and in some ways insignificant. A direct quote from an article written by Raquel Willis and published by Out states that, “It has become customary for reports on murdered trans women to gain a slight bit of traction with jarring headlines — only to be forgotten about the next day.”. The article talks in depth about the extremely noticeable trend of the dismissing of violence that trans people, specifically women of color, face and deem them and their struggles as nugatory and unimportant.
In summation, the social status of an individual or group of people heavily influences how they are treated and regarded by society. This is represented in Lord of the Flies through the characters of Simon and Piggy, and their murders. As well as in the overall treatment of transgender people. Through forceful establishment in the bottom of the social hierarchy in their respective societies, Simon, Piggy and transgender people became subject to unfair tormenting and violence.
Christensen, Jen. “Killings of Transgender People in the US Saw Another High Year.” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 Jan. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/01/16/health/transgender-deaths-2018/index.html.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. Penguin Books, 2006
Greer, Evan. “Powerful Gay Rights Groups Excluded Trans People for Decades - Leaving Them Vulnerable to Trump's Attack.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 Oct. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/10/29/trumps-attack-trans-people-should-be-wake-up-call-mainstream-gay-rights-movement/?utm_term=.0a8f54bae572.
Willis , Raquel. “Behind the 'First Trans Murder' of 2019.” OUT, 1 Feb. 2019, www.out.com/news-opinion/2019/2/01/behind-first-trans-murder-2019.
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