The Triumph of Roasted Meat Over Rational Thinking

Strength and InfluenceMedia

The first time I encountered Lord of the Flies was the summer of 2018.

For almost two years, the strong uneasy impression it left made me reluctant to reread it. The brutality of the society on the island created horrid images in my mind. I could not understand why a group of innocent young boys would be transformed into savages so soon.

The story happens sometime in the future. During World War III, a plane carrying a group of boys crashes on an isolated island somewhere in the middle of the ocean. The only adult, the pilot, doesn’t survive the accident, while all the boys do. Though perplexed at this peculiar situation, the boys enjoy their freedom at first. Then one boy, Jack, breaks away with some followers. The two factions represent the savages and the civilized men. Under extreme circumstances, which one is more crucial: working towards the goal or having a satisfied stomach? The answer becomes only too apparent. This is a very realistic portrait of the real world because in life-threatening situations, a human’s instinct to survive and stay healthy will eventually take over rational thinking. The book gives very detailed descriptions of how each faction functions, and what seems like a trivial sentence can be an essential plotline that will influence the whole story.

This is no doubt a story about the wild adventures of a group of young boys and how they live on an isolated island. But it is also a story about savages overcoming the civilized, the insane conquering the sane. Both main characters, Ralph and Jack, are in the position of influencing and implementing their own thoughts and ideas to the other boys. In fact, at first, Ralph is in the favored position, judging by his possession of the conch, the symbol of ultimate power on the island. The moment Ralph first blows the conch to call an assembly, everyone (including Jack, though grudgingly) accepts the fact that he is the supreme leader. His first order to build a fire on the top of the mountain is carried out immediately with great enthusiasm. Though tired and full of uncertainty, the boys’ first instinct is to get away from the island as fast as possible, and the sole way to satisfy this wish is to keep a fire going. Before long, exhaustion takes over and continues to gnaw its way through everyone’s heart, and Jack’s suggestion of hunting and eating meat seems more reasonable and friendly.

So why would a functioning society collapse so rapidly from the call of the wild? Apart from the fundamental reason that everyone has evil inside, we cannot ignore the crucial outside influence. Why was Jack able to summon such a huge crowd in a stunningly short period of time and turn the situation around? In their state of fatigue, the offer of roasted meat was just as tempting to the boys as getting off the island. Jack’s offer was in everyone’s interests and, as a result, he was able to organize the boys and set them off to work with great efficiency.

Why was Ralph unable to cast a significant influence like Jack did? The answer lies in Jack’s repeated line throughout the novel: “We want meat.”

In addition to reminding everyone of the ultimate goal and pushing them to work, a leader of a team must also consider everyone’s interests in order to keep them motivated. Only when members gain benefits are they willing to work under a leader. Countless glorious successes and tragic losses have embodied this message. It is the same in both Western and Eastern culture, and is shown vividly both in the past and present.

Almost a thousand years ago, during China’s Song Dynasty, a powerful minister by the name of Anshi Wang started a political reformation after witnessing many people in dreadful poverty. He wanted to let the central government have control over some of the wealthy people’s fortune and use it to improve living conditions across the country. However, he ignored the fact that the wealthy upper class also made up a significant part of the government itself and his decision would damage them. This resulted in the ultimate failure of his reformation. Closer to the present, when Stalin first rose to power in Russia and took control of the land and other resources to redistribute them as public resources, the rich peasants called kulaks strongly opposed his decisions. It was this sense of dissatisfaction that caused social turbulence later on.

I did not realize the need to consider the interests of my group members until one social studies project; I was in charge of settling on the topic and moving the discussion forward. It was a hot August morning, and we had been sitting around talking and arguing for more than an hour. I was going to continue until we could reach a final conclusion. Then, one of my group members suddenly protested that lunch was definitely necessary. Nearly everyone was starving. I was reluctant to agree since the deadline was right around the corner, but in the end permitted an hour lunch break at the nearby restaurant. To my surprise, the discussion later that day went smoothly and everyone seemed to be in a better and more productive mood. Having lunch was clearly in the group members’ common interest, and by satisfying their needs, I gained their support. My ideas were accepted much more easily. In other words, my influence on the group was magnified.

Leading a group of people is never an easy thing to do, because everyone has their own thoughts and ideas. Even if there is a common goal, different needs and interests must be met in the process of reaching it. It is a good leader’s job to consider everyone’s interests and make decisions that will benefit his or her members.

In Lord of the Flies, Ralph detects the general resentment of his constant calls for tiring routines: keeping the fire going and building shelter. If he lets the boys off on a break, things could turn out very differently. What’s more, he fails to understand Jack’s eagerness to hunt and the pride he takes in killing the pig. Ralph provokes him by saying that what he has done is useless.

In conclusion, I will rate this book four stars out of five. Its vivid description of the boys’ actions and their thoughts propels the storyline forward, and the metaphors and plot are mind-blowing. So broaden your mind, clear your view, and be open to satisfying your fellow members’ needs and interests. Rational thinking is the key to success, but without roasted meat, a team can never reach its goal.

Yifei Wang is a 15-year-old Chinese girl studying at Nan Hua High School, Singapore. She enjoys reading books, listening to beautiful melodies, and showing her mind in her own writings if she can spare time from her piles of homework. As a big fan of the Harry Potter series, she dreams of turning into J.K. Rowling in the future.

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