1. The Devolution of Society
Both Lord of the Flies and Fahrenheit 451 have themes involving the devolution of society. In the case of Lord of the Flies, the devolution comes through the corruption of power and the desire for a carefree life, whereas Fahrenheit 451 is set in a post-apocalyptic society that is censored and superficial.
Lord of the Flies is the story of a group of boys stranded on an island. Though they try create and maintain order; the jealousy of Jack, an internal fear of a "beast", and the tendency to focus on the superficial leads to a swift decline into anarchy. A conch shell in the novel represents the order and structure of society, but as the story progresses it becomes bleached and trivial, in parallel with the shift of the boys' attitudes from maintaining a rescue fire to wanting to hunt and have fun. Starting with Jack, each of the boys leave and join into a primitive and pleasure- and fear-driven society. This devolution is one of the main themes of the novel, and can be seen in less significant symbols like the appearance of the boys, which deteriorated from neatness to rags and war paint slowly but progressively; and the fire, which shifted from a symbol of home to a symbol of power and savagery.
Fahrenheit 451, despite being post-apocalyptic in setting, encompasses a philosophically primitive society. There are several indications of this, the first being the immediately apparent practice of burning books. Government censorship requires the services of "firemen" like Guy Montag to hunt down and torch books in a maniacal fervor. Though the reason for the intense censorship is never truly apparent, such practice represents an obvious devolution of society. Another indication is the superficiality of most of society (including Montag and Mildred at the beginning of the book). Almost everyone in the book is wholly dependent on technology, and obsessed with the fast and the now. Save for a few cases, no one is concerned with slowing down and considering their surroundings at more than face value. People use pills to get to sleep and can tune out the world around with high-tech earbuds, they have fireproof houses and matches that can light a million times, yet for all of that people are shallow, and have lost their drive.
"WHAT DO WE WANT IN THIS COUNTRY, ABOVE ALL? PEOPLE WANT TO BE HAPPY, ISN'T THAT RIGHT? HAVEN'T YOU HEARD IT ALL YOUR LIFE? I WANT TO BE HAPPY, PEOPLE SAY. WELL AREN'T THEY? DON'T WE KEEP THEM MOVING, DON'T WE GIVE THEM FUN? THAT'S ALL WE LIVE FOR, ISN'T IT? FOR PLEASURE, FOR TITILLATION? AND YOU MUST ADMIT OUR CULTURE PROVIDES PLENTY OF THESE."
In both Lord of the Flies and Fahrenheit 451 a majority of characters become obsessed with what is easy, and what they fancy in the present moment. In other words, the societies represented in both books involve a theme of devolution, especially in the failure of the majority of characters to focus beyond what will bring immediate pleasure. In both novels the mob rules supreme over the individual; the police, hound, and society over Montag and the savage boys over Ralph.
"But remember that the Captain belongs to the most dangerous enemy to truth and freedom , the solid unmoving cattle of the majority."