Summary of the Novels
Deep within these novels exits a true understanding of human behavior during times of desperation and atrocity. These stories depict the lives of innocent children and teens fighting to survive against the contending world around them. They are forced to make decisions that will make or break friendships, keep them alive or push them to the breaking point. Violence poses a constant threat to the characters throughout most of the novel as they must face even the most horrifying of fears. The intensity of the plot increases as many of the characters experience the deaths of their friends. As the stories progress, the characters face continuous difficult situations and start to pull father away from the societal norm. The novels both end in a peaceful resolution giving closure to the reader.
They have forgotten all about being rescued and have strayed far from societal norms. They dress in rags and wear war paint that represent the brutal savages they have become.
Violence and brutality is a common theme seen throughout "Lord of the Flies" and "All Quiet on the Western Front" but the way it is described and pictured by the authors is what gives it the inhumane aspect. In "Lord of the Flies," Golding makes the simplest things such as killing a pig appear to be more ruthless than it would seem. For example when Jack encounters his first pig, he hesitates to kill it. This hows us that Jack isn't used to the inhumane idea of killing another thing. Despite that incident, the next time they find a pig, Golding goes into great detail. However, the characters range in age from around four to twelve, and before this point lived a simple and quiet life likely not used to violence of this kind. The murder of Simon is another example of inhumanity in "Lord of the Flies." During one of the larger feasts, the boys are dancing when Simon suddenly appears from the forest. However, the boys think Simon is the beast and start attacking him and only after he is dead do they realize what they have done. This theme is also quiet persistent in "All Quiet on the Western Front." Most of the time when the characters stumble upon recent destruction, Remarque vividly describes the horror of war and constant death. For example, the soldier come across dead bodies whose eyes are poked out and mouths filled with sawdust. In that same chapter, Paul witnesses a French soldier die by German gunfire. Paul and the other soldiers get so used to the terror and barbarity around them that it becomes part of their daily adventures. One time as they pass though a forest they see bodies piled in trenches. Body parts are scattered all around the forest. Remarque describes it as a "forest of the dead." As inhumanity is relative to these novels, it is also relevant in today's society as we look the wars going on in the middle-east with battle against ISIS and conflicts in Syria. Similar horrors in "All Quiet on the Western Front" exist today and I think it is important to understand how it affects the people fighting those battles as well as the societies they come from.
Paul witnesses a French soldier die during battle.
Loss of Innocence
As violence plays a very important role in the stories alone, it also plays an important role in the character's loss of innocence. In "Lord of The Files," the children are introduced as being playful and annoying who swim in the ocean and lagoon and run around stuffing their faces full of fruit. At the end of the novel they are savages who scour the island in seek of animals of other humans to kill or torture. Nonetheless, their loss of innocence is caused by the inherent evil that has always existed within them but has ceased to show until they became desperate and stranded on the island. In addition, the forest where the Jack placed the sows head as peace offering acts as a loss of innocence. Early on in the novel Simon sits in the forest, a place of elegance and harmony. Sometime later, Jack places the head and Simon returns. The discovery of the bloody staked head symbolizes the true evil that has disturbed the children's innocence.
As Simon wanders back into the beautiful forest as he once knew it, he discovers the severed head that Jack has placed on a spike as a peace offering to the beast.
In "All Quiet on the Western Front," the characters lose their innocence in a similar way to those in "Lord of the Flies." As Paul and his comrades do their time fighting on the front line they experience the inconceivable atrocities of war. They see soldiers who's noses are cut off and bodies discombobulated. By the end of the novel, Paul has witnessed all of his friends die leaving him to die alone. The brutality the soldiers encountered on a daily basis became something of the past and sometimes almost nonexistent. The idea of young children being involved in violence and losing their innocence is largely still existent. Especially in cities like Chicago and Las Vegas, it is common to see younger aged children take part in gang violence or criminal activity. Just like in the novels, the events that these children observe or take part in will change them forever.
The soldiers continue to run into plies of mutilated dead bodies. The things they see will never escape them.
Ralph and Paul
Even though the novels are very different, Ralph and Paul experience many of the same events and end up in similar circumstances at the end of the stories. For instance, Ralph is eventually overcome by the Jack's clan of mass killers and must fight for his life. Similarly, the war forces Paul to discard many of the things he cares about to survive. Furthermore, they both lose friends that are near and dear to their hearts that they have come to trust and depend on. For Ralph, Simon is one of the only people left on the island he has and will side with him. The death of Simon scares Ralph because he knows that not only will they be coming for him next but he is now alone on an island inhabited by vicious killers. On the other hand, Paul loses all of his friends through the horrific tragedies of combat. He loses his first friend before he ever fights on the front lines. Paul is upset by his death and doesn't want to think about the letter he is going to have to write to his mother. Just as it couldn't get any worse, toward the end of the novel, his friend Kat get shot in the leg. Paul carries him back on his shoulder but during that time Kat is hit in the head with a piece of metal shrapnel and dies. Another similarity between the characters is that they both engage in thrilling mischief. After Ralph hears about the first hunt he is interested and joins the others the next time they go. They soon find a boar, and Ralph who's engaged in the moment throws his spear and misses. He is ecstatic from all the screaming and yelling during the hunt. Likewise, Paul and his buddies take a supreme interest in messing with Corporal Himmelstoss. They take pride in defying his orders and performing their punishments to such a pathetic degree that the Corporal stops treating them poorly. In addition, one night after the Corporal walks out of a local pub, the friends ambush Himmelstoss, putting a sheet over his head while whipping and beating him senseless. Lastly, Ralph and Paul are the last central characters living. Even though Jack and his clan aren't dead, Ralph would be considered the last and only person left on the island who was still sane and somewhat civilized. Likewise, even though Paul eventually died, he was the last surviving main character.
Piggy's Glasses and Kemmerich's Boots
Piggy's glasses and Kemmerich's boots are very important and meaningful symbols. They both symbolize something the characters desire. In "Lord of the Flies," Piggy's glasses are a necessity to create fire which they use to signal for help and cook meat. In "All Quiet on the Western Front," the boots represent an amenity that every soldier must have. As each character dies, the boots are passed on to the next, showing how invaluable the boots are compared to the cheap value placed on a human life. Comparable to "Lord of the Flies," Piggy's glasses are tossed around and taken from him when ever someone wants them. The glasses represent the power to rule as well because whoever has the ability to create fire has the capability of cooking food and making campfires for keeping warm.
Glasses and boots are pretty simple items that carry such an important role in the novels but are so similar to thing we widely use today like cars or cell phones. Just like the boots, cars are something everyone wants simply because it's more convenient. They're also more comfortable than a bike city bus. Similar to how the glasses represent power to make fire, cell phones have the power to look up something you don't know or call somebody whenever you want.