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Flies & Development

Lord of the Flies & The Evolving Self

In The Evolving Self, Robert Kegan discusses the eternal dilemma of reconciling the claims of the individual with the claims of the state. In doing so, Kegan discusses Kohlberg’s three evolutionary states which pertain to this dilemma, stages 4, 4½, and 5. These stages represent an evolution from ideology (separatist and exclusionary) to integration (of individual and group): (4) deciding for the group at the expense of the individual; (4½) deciding for the individual at the expense of the group; (5) integration of the individual and the group (Kegan, 1982, 62). Ideology forms during this evolution process, one that can be implicit and tacit or explicit and public. As Kegan warns “In its more lethal forms it amounts to nothing less than the inability to protect a person against arbitrary exclusions simply because he or she seems to be against the interests of the group” (Kegan, 1982, 63).

In William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, we see that two ideologies emerge on the Island which represents a microcosm of society-at-large. In the evolution of ideology, a process that the boys endure, Piggy and Ralph evolve a democratic, ordered, society. Roger, Jack and others evolve an ideology that centers around savagery, anarchy and evil. The novel maintains the battle between Ralph and Jack (i.e. between ideologies) throughout, with Piggy trying desperately to maintain clarity, order and civilization. While Ralph’s use of the conch is meant to define the community based on what is right, Jack’s savage methods define the right. As Kegan (1982, 63) notes “Ideology is identified by the extent to which it makes the maintenance and protection of its own group the ultimate basis of valuing, so that “right” is defined on behalf of the group, rather than the group being defined on behalf of the right.”

If we look at the interaction in the novel, we see these


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Flies & Development. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:48, January 31, 2023, from