Human nature can be defined as being the psychological characteristics of humankind which are understood to be shared by all human beings. In the novel "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding, the flaws of human nature are explored in detail. When critics asked Golding about the theme of the novel, he replied, "The theme is an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature" (p. 204). He believes that political systems cannot govern society effectively without first taking into consideration the defects of human nature. One of the numerous flaws in human nature which is illustrated in "Lord of the Flies" is the reluctance of admitting one's mistakes.
The characters in this novel are of young age, the oldest being around 12 or 13 years old. This leaves room for many mistakes to be made, as young children are bound to make mistakes.
It is human nature to deny mistakes, and to instead blame mishaps on others. In the beginning of "Lord of the Flies", when the first meeting is held, Piggy suggests a head count to keep track of everyone, especially the "littluns." Ralph and Jack dismiss this idea by making fun of Piggy instead of taking his comment into consideration. There was a little child that talked about a "snake-thing" (p. 35). He is only distinguished by a mark on his face. The other boys laugh at the child and write off the idea as a nightmare. Later, when the boys are looking for wood, they come across a snake-pit. It is then when Piggy realizes that the small boy with the mark on his face is gone. "That little'un that had a mark on his face--where is--he now? I tell you I don't see him--where is he now?" (p. 46-47) Piggy reprimands the other boys for not listening him and taking a head count. Instead of admitting his mistake, Ralph shamefully mumbles an excuse: "Perhaps he went back to the, the--" (p.47). Ralph and Jack also blame the incident on Piggy who was put in charge of the "names." However, it is not Piggy's fault because there was no way that he could accomplish this task without the cooperation of the other boys, which was not available to him. The absence of the little one is ignored and is never spoken of again. This is an example of how people are reluctant to admit their mistakes and would rather blame things on others.
When Simon realizes that the beastie is not real, but is rather the dead parachuter, he feels obligated to inform the other boys of his discovery. However, Simon barges in on them during one of their feast celebrations. The boys at the feast are dancing and are caught up in the excitement of the night. Not fully aware of the situation, when Simon made his unannounced entrance, he was mistaken for being the beast. In the excitement of the night, nobody realized the mistake and as a consequence, Simon was brutally murdered. After the incident, nobody believed that they actually committed the murder, and instead they all try to find excuses for their actions:
"'Don't you understand, Piggy? The things we did--'
'He may still be--'
'P'raps he was only pretending--'" (p.157).
"It was an accident, that's what it was...coming in the dark. He was batty. He asked for it. It was an accident....It was an accident, and that's that." (p.157)
Ralph and Piggy are not comfortable with what they had done when they woke up the next morning. Ralph realizes what happened, but Piggy persistently attempts to find an excuse for their actions, as can be seen in the quotes above. He denies all involvement in the murder and struggles to prove to himself, as well as to Ralph, that they both were not connected to the killing in any way.
Sam and Eric [or Samneric] feel the same way about the situation as do Ralph and Piggy. The twins act as if they were not present when the murder took place, even though it is obvious they were. They justify this excuse by pretending that they left the feast early because they were "tired." Piggy and Ralph go along with this explanation and actually use it for themselves as well:
"'We left early,' said Piggy quickly, 'because we were tired.'
'So did we--'" (p. 158).
All four of the boys are pretending that they do not know of what is going on and are shaken by the "dance they had not attended" (p.158).
Throughout "The Lord of the Flies", William Golding identifies many "defects of human nature." One of the themes of the novel is an "attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature" (p. 204). The flaws in human nature must be taken into consideration in order to build a successful political structure. In this novel, the young children do now have this knowledge and therefore their society breaks down. It is in human nature for one to be unwilling to admit one's mistakes, and throughout the Lord of the Flies, Golding has exemplified this flaw in a variety of different ways.