In a literary work, the setting can have major effect on character. It can also play a role as an underlying major conflict of a story. In the novel, "Lord of the Flies", the setting, being a deserted island in the middle of nowhere, takes effect in influencing character behavior and mentality. Eventually, the setting sets up the environment where "survival of the fittest" becomes crucial. Through the setting, author William Golding portrays the characters' transformation from good to evil, where once civilized human beings turn into savage beasts concerned with their own safety and survival. As time passes, the need to be selfish becomes increasingly important.
In this story, after a terrible plane crash, a group of boys, no older then twelve, end up on a deserted island. They start out as innocent boys who came from civilized society. Ralph, the protagonist of lord of the Flies, realizes that there are no adults.
He becomes the leader of the boys and tries to maintain an order until they are rescued. He assigns them to do tasks such as maintaining a fire, hunting for food, gathering water, and making shelter. The boys being the kids they were, they followed some orders but mostly played all day.
Golding shows in this book how everyone is savage to a certain degree. The setting in this book enhances the savagery among the boys, though not all are at the same level. For example, Simon is kind hearted, gentle fellow who sought to help others on their needs. Jack, the antagonist, is a rude and prudent boy who acts violent to others. When he became chief, he brutally beats a "littlelun" for no apparent reason, as quoted here, " 'He's going to beat Wilfred'
Robert shook his head doubtfully
'I don't know. He didn't say. He got angry and made us tie Wilfred up. He's
been-' he giggled excitedly- 'he's been tied for hours, waiting-'
'but didn't the chief say why?'
'I haven't heard him.' " . Jack's violent approach is more responsive towards the group. His barbaric behavior was influenced by hunting. The others grew savage from several things. Most of them participated in the killing of Simon. When Simon appeared on Jack's side of the island, they were dancing and chanting. The boys believed that he was the beast and attacked him viciously with their bare hands and teeth. He tried to tell them who he was, but never had the chance. Lack of human respect reflects the extent of their savage behavior. This indicates that they are living in a world of extreme lawlessness.
Even though they became savage from civilized society, they were pretty resourceful on the island. Considering their age (12 and younger) they manage to light a fire. They were able to hunt pigs and gather fruit and build shelter. They would have no privacy with each other, for they wouldn't go to a lavatory in one designated place. Lack of adult or parental supervision, they were fearful anyhow. For example, "they suffered untold terrors in the dark and huddled together fro comfort". This reflects their fear of being alienated on the island.
In conclusion, the setting had considerable effect in the development of character. The boys went from civilized people to uncivilized. Being alienated on the island, it brought out the evil and chaos inside them. From hunting for food, to the killing of Simon indicates that they have lost their innocence and moral values of human kind.