Why Are We Violent?
What causes violence? Most of the time it is conflict, or maybe even jealousy. Other times violence can be a product of fear, like in the novel “Lord of The Flies.” But is fear really what caused the boys to act out in violence? Maybe it was just the desire to hurt something that drove the boys to beat another human being to death. Humans can often have violent outbursts for many reasons, but it’s usually something small like maybe breaking something or hitting a wall. Small or not, though, these outbursts are still violent, and can be harmful. This raises the question, what causes humans to have the desire to hurt and destroy? Humans naturally have a desire to hurt things because it is in their nature.
The novel “Lord of The Flies” is about a group of boys whose plane has crashed on an isolated island, stranding them there. In Chapter 9, "A view to death", the reader gets to experience the first death so far. Simon goes to explore the mountain and try to find the beast. He finds out it's a human corpse that fell from the sky. The journey is exhausting, he gets very dirty and gets covered in blood from his nose, so when he gets back, the boys think he's the beast. "Now out of the terror rose another desire, thick. urgent, blind. “‘Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!’ Again the blue-white scare jagged above them and the sulfurous explosion beat down. The littluns screamed and blundered about, fleeing from the edge of the forest, and one of them broke the ring of begins in his terror. ‘Him! Him!’ The circle became a horseshoe. A thing was crawling out of the forest. It came darkly, uncertainly. The still screaming that rose from the beast was like a pain. The beast stumbled into the horseshoe (152).” This scene shows how fear can cause people to change, but is it really fear that did this to the boys? The boys could have run away from the beast or simply captured it since it wasn’t trying to attack them. They, of course, didn’t know that the beast was actually Simon, but still most likely saw that this beast looked awfully similar to a human, unless they were so struck by the fear that they didn’t notice. That doesn’t make sense, though, because when they first saw the beast fall from the sky, they didn’t want to go anywhere that night, or during the day for that matter, because they were so scared. Why didn’t they hurt the beast then or try to find him and hurt him out of fear? It’s because fear isn’t what drove them to attack the beast, but the desire for hurting something was.
In today’s society, we see people being hurt and murdered all the time, but recently the cause of a lot of it has been the police. Police brutality has been a serious issue over the past few years, with many innocent African Americans being murdered in cold blood for no reason. But what is the police’s justification for this you may ask? Fear. They claim they were in fear of losing their lives. They said they were in fear of the suspect being armed. But were they really in any danger? Evidence in most of these cases has proved that the victims were unarmed, and most of the time not even doing anything wrong. An example of this is the murder of David Sal Silva which happened in 2013. David was beaten to death by four policemen that claimed he was drunk and trying to fight them. Witnesses say that this isn’t true and there have been recording posted around the internet. That is exactly what the boys did, they murdered someone in cold blood. They took the life of an unarmed and harmless human being who was no danger to them at all, and why? Because they had the desire and thirst to do so, like animals. That is exactly what they acted like when they murdered Simon, not humans, but animals. Except that they were worse than animals, since animals most of the time kill for food, but what purpose did the boys have for killing Simon? That’s simple, they didn’t have one.
The boys have been showing signs of this desire earlier in the book as well. If we go back to the chapter titled “Painted Faces and Long Hair,” we will see many of them. The specific scene I’m talking about is when the group of hunters comes back from hunting the pigs and describe what they did to Ralph and the others. Jack then steps in and describes what he did to the pig in a sadistic way. “‘I cut the pig's throat,’ said Jack, proudly, and yet twitched as he said it (69).” The twitch that happened makes it seem like there is something wrong with Jack, yet he shows he can process decisions easily throughout the book and be mostly logical about everyday things, so why the twitch? It’s a sign he wants to hurt more and that he liked the feeling of killing the pig. This makes Jack a sadist and proves furthermore that the boys had a hunger for hurting and killing things in the book. If the boys have this lust for hurting that we see in the pig scene, that should be a foreshadowing of the fact that it’s a matter of time before they hurt another human being, like they did to Simon and then Piggy.
It has even been scientifically proven that violence can be caused by many other factors other than fear. Some of the factors that can cause violence are exposure to it, frustration, overcrowding and even heat. There’s also something else that can cause violence, something called “terror management theory” shows us that people tend to act out in violent ways when they feel worthless or unimportant. This can explain why Jack acted out in violence a lot. Early on in the book, he was denied the role of being the leader by the other boys, which made him feel weaker. This could have made him feel the need to savagely hunt the pigs down and kill them. The more he did this the more enjoyable it started to become, and as my earlier example shows, even after the first hunt he already loved the feeling of hurting things. The fact that there was probably lot’s of heat on this tropical island and the human instinct to hurt things, especially when feeling threatened was what made the boys act out in violence and ultimately kill Simon.
The reason the boys killed Simon is not because they thought he was the beast, but because they have a hunger for hurting things and enjoy it. The fact that Jack also felt unimportant made him act out in violence to avoid that feeling. The boys also looked up to Jack, and just like humans naturally have the urge to hurt and hunt, we also have the urge to follow so they listened to Jack like he was their Alpha-male. The reason it is human nature to feel the need to hurt things or kill them is because humans are natural predators. When hurting something our minds can also learn to enjoy it, which is what made the boys kill Simon, the thrill, and joy of hurting something. The only thing that keeps us all peaceful and following the rules are the consequences that are there if we break them.
Natasha Lennard / Salon. "Police Beat Man to Death With Batons, Confiscate Witness Video." Alternet. N.p., 13 May 2013. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
Golding, William. Lord of The Flies. New York: Penguin, 2006.
Kirk Schneider / AlterNet. "Why Are Humans Violent? The Psychological Reason We Hurt Each Other." Alternet. N.p., 30 July 2014. Web. 31 Mar. 2017."Violence." Pardon Our Interruption. American Psychological Association, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.