William Golding's (1954) Lord of the Flies can be viewed fr4om many perspectives, from a religious analogy to a mirror of civilization at large. Whichever perspective one views the novel from, however, one central theme remains pervasive throughout the novel. The central theme is how human beings are often their own worst enemy, causing chaos and destruction even in the midst of a tropical paradise.
The ending of the novel involves the rescue of a group of stranded boys from an island. While on the island, the boys descend into brutality and end up murdering each other. Ralph, who has represented order and civility throughout their island existence, weeps in tears for his dead friend Piggy and for his lost innocence. He now knows how violent and brutal man can be to man. As we are told by the narrator, "Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy" (Golding 1954, 184). This is extremely significant to the main theme. The boys are a group of young children stranded on an island. When the naval officer arrives, just in time to save Ralph from the other boys' savagery, he tells them he thinks they might have done something more adventurous. This is Golding's use of irony to underscore man's brutality to man. For it symbolizes that even young children on an island that represents virtually untold adventures, the boys have turned to brutality, chaos and savagery.
Much like Conrad's Heart of Darkness, the novel depicts how human beings are often the real enemy of mankind. The boys have already escaped from a world wherein wars are threatening human existence. Ralph attempts to maintain order on the island, as symbolized by the conch and group meetings. However, Jack begins to battle with Ralph to gain control over the other boys on the island. Instead of using hard work, logic, and common sense to try t