Monday, July 21, 2008

Lord of the Flies

The book Lord of the Flies isn't ever shown on the show, but it's referenced in conversation several times. One being the quote above from Sawyer in Season one's ...In Translation. Also Charlie, in season two's What Kate Did says, "They seem to have had a rough time of it. It looks like they went bloody Lord of the Flies out there."

I feel that the similarities between the plot and characters of this book and the show Lost are somewhat glaring. From the survivalist tactics, to the sheer denial of what is going on. So I'll have a go at what it all means.

The Characters:

I'm going to look at only three main characters here, Piggy, Ralph, and Jack.

Piggy is in most ways our Hurley. He is most similar to him physically, and his mental prowess is overlooked because of his physical image. Clearly not all parts of Piggy are Hurley-like. Where Hurley is liked by everyone, and the comic relief at times, Piggy is whiney and unliked by pretty much everyone. The thing that is important to note between the two though is that they both have great ideas, and they are often overlooked because of how they present themselves in the societies of their respective islands.

  • Piggy often has the best ideas and solutions for problems, and they most often get credited to others or ignored completely.
  • Hurley is looked at as the one everyone loves, and has only recently started gaining importance as a contributing member of the survivors. He saved the day on the beach with the Volkswagen Bus, he is now seeing Jacob's cabin which is a huge deal and has gained him a lot of value. He also (like Piggy) seems to have the best understanding of the personalities on the island, and how they mesh.

Ralph is the reluctant hero of the book. Although not the brightest or best under pressure (often being fed ideas by Piggy) he is gentle, kind, and has a rational head on his shoulders. Where others get caught up in games and madness, Ralph tries to remain rational and do what he thinks is the best for the group as a whole.

  • Jack is our most likely Ralph. As a doctor he was sort of made the leader of the Losties although he didn't ask for it. He tries to think ahead and do what he thinks is in the best interest of the group. When faced with impossible situations he tries to be rational and not get caught up in the madness that surrounds him.
  • As Lost progresses things seem to go for Jack as they did for Ralph. Jack ends up with his small group of followers who are trying to do the right thing, stay out of trouble, and just get off the island. Locke on the other hand takes his group to the barracks and battens down for a battle.

Jack is our wild child. He wants to hunt, kill, and have adventures. I feel that Sawyer is our most likely Jack candidate. While John Locke and Ben wind up as a close second. There are lots of reason why these characters reflect Jack and his wild unpredictable side.

  • His willingness to resort to violence, his ritual with the slaughters, etc. But one thing in particular stand out between he and Sawyer. Sawyer is a grifter, and he wants revenge for the death of his mother. In order to do this he masks himself and takes on the identity of the man who killed his mother. Jack, in the book, wants desperately to kill the pig, but he can't. However, once he covers his face in mud and ash, he is able to ritualistically hunt and kill the pig, and revel in the experience. Hiding who they really are behind masks and falsehoods make it possible for them to do things that perhaps they wouldn't normally be able to do.
    • This seems to be an ongoing theme of the island life on Lost. People there are not who they are in their real lives, the anonymity of the island allows them to shine as they couldn't before, or reveal sides of themselves that had until that point lay dormant. Everyone gets redemption and a fresh start on Lost Island for the simple fact that at first, no one knows who anyone is.
  • I do think though that is where the similarities between the two end. Where Jack is wild, violent, and irrational, Sawyer is calculating and compassionate. Jack would burn up the whole island to get his vengeance on Ralph, which is much more Ben or John Locke like.

The Lord of the Flies:

In Lost there have been plenty of instances where folks see things and hear things that aren't really there (or maybe they are...). This also happens in the novel. The heat during the day causes the boys to see mirages on the ocean, and think that they see and hear things in the jungle. The scene where Simon confronts The Lord of the Flies particularly stands out.

  • The boys in the hunting group kill many wild pigs on the island. In one instance the head of a kill is set on a stake and left in the ground. Simon stumbles on this icon and hallucinates that it speaks to him.
    • The head implies this it is evil, and that evil is inside everyone. It tells him that no matter what he does he will meet this evil, and if he tires to ruin the 'fun" it will be the end of him. Basically embrace the evil or die...he dies.
  • This speaks to when Eko confronts the smoke monster in the form of Yemi right before his death. Eko is supposed to confess his sins, but instead shows no fear and refuses to ask forgiveness.
    • Eko feels that he did what he had to do with the life that was handed to him and nothing more. Further, he's made sacrifices to save his brother. He is then killed for refusing to acknowledge his 'evil' (repent or die) just as (it is implied) Simon is killed for the same reason.


Whoa, is there a lot of denial going on in this book! Basically, no one is claiming any responsibility for their actions. Sound familiar?

  • Denial is also reflected in the novel where the boys do such things as blame the 'beastie" when littleuns start to disappear. As a matter of fact they aren't even alarmed when members of their survivors start to go missing. They seem to ignore this fact completely, almost like if they don't acknowledge it, its not actually happening. The boys, in a frenzy nearly kill Roger as part of their pig game. Then they laugh it off, in kind of an "Oops, sorry about that" moment. They KILL SIMON WITH THEIR BARE HANDS, and when the body washes out to sea, they claim they killed the beastie and nothing more. Piggy is killed for holding the conch and trying to restore order. But Ralph somehow tries to justify the brutality of basically letting Roger drop a boulder on Piggy because he can tell him to do anything he wants and he'll do it. There is no need for a conch or rules when he can do that!
  • In the world of Lost Ben can commit an extermination of the island and somehow justify this. He can trap people on an island for months, and use them as he sees fit without thinking twice about how wrong this is. John Locke can blow up the only supposed way off the island and claim he had a reason for it. He can also get Sawyer to murder his father for him and justify it as what the island wants. Charles Widmore can send a freighter crew out to kill the remaining survivors of a plane crash, and fake the wreckage to fool the world, but he has his reasons apparently.
    • It all comes back to the fact that being on these islands allows the survivors to act in ways that would just not be acceptable in society. With no one there to answer to but themselves, its much easier to justify or not think about what it is that they are doing and any consequences that may be involved.


  • The boys are eventually rescued, and with it comes shame, and tears. Rescue brings clarity as to just what they have become and what they have done. It shows them the truth, and as they embrace it they break down and sob as they realize they won't be the same again.
    • At one point during their rescue, the naval officer turns his back on the boys, not willing to watch them crying. He is unimpressed and humiliated for them. He can't seem to understand what actually has been going on since they crashed and just feels sorry for this emotional spectacle unbecoming of good British lads. He doesn't want to know the truth of the situation after all, not knowing is much easier to swallow.
  • For the Losties rescue doesn't bring with it the truth but rather more lies. There are lies as to what actually happened to Flight 815, how they were rescued, and about who survived. There is no moment of clarity for the Losties, no redemption or sobbing cleanse as they accept that things won't be the same again. Perhaps this is why they are all not doing so well with life off the island.
    • After they return to their homes, the world seems to embrace the Losties as heroes. The O6 are celebrities, and everyone seems willing to accept the story they tell no matter how little sense it makes. No one is looking for the truth because lies are just easier to embrace and far easier to play along with.

Final Bullets:

  • The boys are survivors of a plane that's crashed on a deserted island and no one knows they're there. The Losties are also crash survivors, and supposedly no one knows they're alive. Especially since they are 1,000 miles off course, and the world thinks that their bodies are actually at the bottom of the ocean.
  • When Simon is killed the boys decide that he was actually the beastie. The beastie can assume any form, and it doesn't die. In the world of Lost their beastie, being Smokey, can do this too. We've seen it, unless its all a massive trick designed to justify or influence the actions of those on the island.
  • The boys in the book become savages. Not really intentionally, they seem to get caught up in the game of it all. It's similar for our Losties, but it's survival, not a game. By the time season four arrived we saw our Losties go from hapless survivors to very much Other-like. Being suspicious of the freighties, holding them hostage, not trusting their intentions, and even seeing scene reproductions that were very reminiscent of when the others first encountered the Losties and interacted with them.
  • The term Lord of the Flies is a direct translation of Beelzebub.
  • Both in the book and on Lost we see the survivors split into two groups. Those who want to survive and get off the island (Ralph/Jack Shephard's group) and those that embrace the respective islands and hunker down for the long haul (John Locke/Jack's group).

Coming in August: The Tempest

1 comment:

Izikavazo said...

You got some mighty fine comparisons there. I can really see how the writers have worked some of the elements in. It helps that Lord of the Flies is such an iconic book that it's almost the original stranded on an island novel.
I'm really looking forward to The Tempest. I think I know who Prospero is.
- izi