Social Cliques in Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Essay by NastyPotatoHigh School, 10th gradeA, September 2014

download word file, 5 pages 0.0

Downloaded 3 times

Carlos Alfonso

Mrs. Russo


English 1

Social Cliques in Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Social cliques are both a blessing and a curse to adolescences in high school and even

in the real world. Cliques' help people find others that share common interest and allow

adolescences to make friends and find themselves. Though cliques can often turn violent and

exclude others because they do not share common interests they have become common place in

society and it is better to learn how to cope with them then to go against them. William Golding

uses a complex social hierarchy, a vivid character portrayal of abandonment and atonement, and

the use of friendship and betrayal in Lord of the Flies to accurately outline the causes and effects

of social cliques in adolescences.

"When we look at any society, whether primitive or highly developed, whether simple or

complicated, we observe conformities of behavior, within the limits of variations due to individual differences, on the part of the individual members of any society as they carry on the daily busyness of living"(Sheriff & Cantril).

Social cliques are prevalent even in primal or advanced societies, both groups have cliques appear on a regular bases. They are common enough in other animals that it has advanced far enough to be comparable to humans.

"In the bright glow and warm presence of the American Dream all men are born free

and equal"(Warner, Meeker, and Eells).Social cliques of status attempt to refute this statement by claiming one clique higher than another. Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a cult classic amongst the many great books of its era to explore this concept of clique domination.. The book follows Ralph as he and dozens of other small children are deserted on an

island after a nuclear explosion forces them out of England, though the island is fruitful and there

is no need to bicker over resources constant infighting leads the group of teens and children to

divide into 2 groups each with conflicting interest, Ralph's group and Jack's group (a fellow

abandoned boy who is the leader of a small group called the choir). All of the children in Ralph's

group betray him and join Jack; Ralph is hunted down and almost killed until the children are

rescued by a passing British naval officer and his ship. 2 children are dead and with their first

sight of an adult in months (or weeks, the book does not give an accurate portrayal as to how

long they were on the island exactly) they break out in tears and show that they are still children

and didn't really understand what they were doing to each other. They were feeding of their

primal desires and ended up killing for it. There are many reasons for the melt down that those

children have tried to build, from their immaturity, their hidden psychopathic nature and many


"Groups can form around things people have in common" (Collins). There is often a clear

distinction between social cliques, for example the jocks in school almost never socialize with

the nerds, spazzes, or outcast. There is a missing link between these social classes, who have to

say that a person on a football team can't talk math with the braincases? The missing link as I

like to call it is often nonexistent, most kids stick to one cliques and rarely move to and from

them. This kind of rift between classes is based on a variety of things, wealth, social skills,

education, and home problems just to name a few.

William Golding introduces us to "the beastie" very early on in the book. He uses the

beastie to begin the construction of a rift between the two groups; the very first sign of cliques

beginning to form is when the beastie was first introduced. Some children wanted to hunt down

the beastie and kill it, others believed it didn't exist and was just a figment of a scared child's


This first rift would eventually grow to the point were 2 kids will die and others will be

left mentally scarred for the rest of their lives. The beastie can be used to personify the difference

between social cliques. The reason the 2 groups begin to drift in the first place is their differing

opinions in handling the beastie. The beastie is also used to separate the maturity levels of the

survivors, it was very common that survivors with a higher level of maturity would join Ralph's

group as opposed to jacks because they see the logic that there is no beastie.

This is very similar to the intelligence barrier present in cliques today. It is often over

whelming the intelligence difference between students that aren't known for their studies and

those that are classified as "nerds". This effect plays a smaller part at the end of the book but is

prevalent enough in the beginning to make note of it.

"Unlike adults, children are a disenfranchised, powerless group in society"(Patricia Adler, Patrick Adler). In social cliques today there is often a presence of a leader

of the group, this "alpha male" (or female) is often the one must associated with zed clique.

These leaders can be seemed as the embodiment of the social clique themselves. Ralph and Jack

are the alpha males of the group. But the problem here is that there can't be two leaders this leads

to infighting, this is exactly what happens and this leads to friction and the eventual separation of

the two groups.

Leaders of the group usually make the most important decisions in relation to how they

function with other cliques. In Lord of the Flies case Jack decides to be violent towards Ralph

because he feels that he is more worthy of being chief then Ralph ( amongst other things), this

use of violence is the final pull that is needed to pull the two groups apart.

The threat of violence was malevolent all throughout the book, Jack has been dreaming

of being a hunter all throughout the book, thou in the beginning he really did not understand the

concept of taking a life, there is a very symbolic moment in the book where Jack puts on the face

paint he found when hunting, this face paint symbolizes the primal desires for food and meat and

the lengths he will go to get it. Jack later becomes accustomed to killing and hurting other living

beings, after he scores his first kill this violent nature of his grows, eventually he splits apart

from Ralph and makes his own village.

William Golding uses a complex social hierarchy, a vivid character portrayal of

abandonment and atonement, and the use of friendship and betrayal in Lord of the Flies to

accurately outline the causes and effects of social cliques in adolescences.

I believe that Mr. William Golding portrayed the issue of social cliques in adolescences

very well. He used many examples and related them to more personified and poetic forms that

made it easier yet more challenging to fully understand.

Works Cited

Warner, Meeker, and Eells Social Class in America: A Manual of Procedure for the Measurement of Social Status", Web, 12/15/13,

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, Inc., 1954.


Sherif & Cantril "The Psychology of Ego-Involvements: Social Attitudes & Identifications",, Web, 12/15/13,

Collins, "Development of Cognition, Affect, and Social Relations", Web, 12/15/13,

Patricia Adler and Patrick Adler "Peer Power: Preadolescent Culture and Identity",, Web, 12/15/2013,