I think the ending is very fitting to this wonderful novel. The main point that is trying to be put across in the novel is the fact that evil is in everyone and no-one can escape this. The ending helps to portray this statement for the last time.
I am going to look at different parts throughout the book and relate them to the ending. The novel starts off by suggesting that,
‘This is a good island. We-Jack, Simon and me-we climbed the mountain. It’s wizard. There’s food and drink and-‘
There are many references at the beginning of the novel where it is said to be the next treasure island, made of total perfection. The book can be compared to the garden of Eden at the start because they think it is a wonderful place, just like paradise. Golding uses mythic references to keep us thinking throughout the novel. The novel then delves into the idea of this being ironic because as we see it is not perfect at all.
Looking at the first paragraph we can see many changes the island has already undergone and how the novel suggests, subtly, how the crisis has started. Firstly the scar smashed into the jungle could portray the fact that the island is wounded from the beginning and this makes the island a place which is soon to be truly wounded. The description of, ‘When a bird, a vision of red and yellow,’ suggests to me the awful idea of fire on the island from the start. Red and yellow are the colours of the tormenting experiences of fire, rescue and safety. This shows that by looking back the reader can see the significance of the colours red and yellow throughout the novel. Following on from this is the comment that a bird, ‘Flashed up like a witch-like cry, and this was echoed by another.’ also suggests evil in the novel. Witches are always perceived as evil figures in books, they set a scary image in the book. The fact that the cry echoes also suggests suspicion in the novel from the start.
The main point of the book about the evil in everyone is emphasized so the author is making sure we will remember this extremely important point and therefore emphasizes it at the end. He also concentrates on it greatly through the novel especially with the character of Simon. Simon is the only character that knows the truth about evil and the beast. He tries to explain this so many times but no one believes him because Golding cleverly makes him the outsider. He tries to convince the group in Chapter 5 by commenting,
‘What I mean is … maybe it’s only us.’
‘Nuts!’ said Piggy in shock, as was the rest of the group.
This is Simon trying to tell the group but no one gives him a chance, except Piggy, who later in the book listens to Simon and realizes he is right. This evil eats inside the boys and the more they try to resist it and blame it on the outside world, the more they are escaping the truth.
At the end of the novel it is very upsetting because you see how human nature has led this island into complete savagery. The boys have lost all respect, care and hope for each other and themselves. The fundamental evil of human nature is revealed as civilization is triumphed over. This in turn leads to the formation of divisions in the groups, weakening and eventually destroying the former united nature of it. ‘We were together then -‘ says Ralph, when he tries to explain to the officer what has happened on the island, at the very end. They realize how divided their society has become at the very end. It upsets them as much as it upsets the reader.
The last chapter starts with Ralph alone hiding in the forest – he resembles an animal who is being hunted. He knows Jack will never stop pursuing him. He goes towards Castle Rock and comes face to face with the skull of the pig’s head. Next Sam and Eric warn Ralph that he will be hunted and they are later tortured for speaking to Ralph. After this Ralph wakes up to the sounds of hunters as Sam and Eric have revealed his hiding place. Ralph sends rocks down to try and protect himself and then realizes Jack has set the forest on fire. Ralph is then spotted and surrounded, but he breaks out and runs to the open beach. He then collapses and cries for mercy as the navel officer is standing over him.
The first part of the end section when Ralph is being chased by the others is a perfect example of savagery on the island and it also shows how easily humans can run into yet more trouble. As Ralph tries to escape the war filled island with the boys turning into savages, no matter how much or how far he runs he will always run back into war. This is because humans cannot escape evil … evil is in everyone. We are all savages no matter how much we like to admit or deny it when we are left to our own devices. Ralph being chased shows how the boys have changed so much from the beginning, when everything seemed perfect.
The fire is also important in this part because the fire was not meant for rescue, it was instead meant for hunting Ralph. The fire is ironic in that from the beginning it was supposed to save and rescue the boys, but instead, it became a main link to savagery and destroyed the entire island at the very end.
When the officer arrives he asks who is the leader is. This is a final test in the fight for leadership. Ralph steps out. This seems fitting because he has really been the true leader throughout because he has always been the moral, mature, considerate and sensible one to a certain extent. I feel he has been the more realistic leader throughout and helped keep the boys and island together for as long as possible because he has brains. He also stood forward because he maybe wanted to assert himself over Jack for the final time. He wants the people to believe he has been the leader and so he does this to make sure they will always remember him. Jack doesn’t step forward because he perhaps knows deep in his heart that Ralph has been the real leader, for the right reasons, with the right answers and not just trying to gain power. He falls down at the end and in front of adults, cannot stand up for himself.
The first things that are noticed by Ralph when the officer arrives are the white drill, epaulettes and a revolver etc. This shows that no matter how hard humans try they can’t escape the fact that war and evil is EVERYWHERE, it is impossible to get rid of it. The boys should be so happy when someone has finally come to retrieve them but instead they see how awful human nature is. They look back at what has happened on the island and realize how badly they coped. They also see that even though these people are coming to rescue and save them from this war filled place, this is not the end of it. Evil is in everyone and when they return back to their supposed ‘civilized world’, it isn’t civilized at all, there is war everywhere. It is part of us and we cannot get rid of it.
The most significant thing the officer does is put forward questions and make statements in a very informative and joking manner. The sad thing is that the officer says them in jest when really the boys are very sensitive to the situation he is bringing up:
‘A semicircle of little boys, their bodies streaked with coloured clay…were standing on the beach making no noise at all. Fun and games’, said the officer.’
Firstly from this comment we can see that the boys have now returned to being little boys with the adult around them, whereas, they had been scary savages for some time and this completely changed their lives. This quotation is very fitting to what has happened to the boys and sum up the disaster that has taken place on the island. Firstly the boys had started by thinking the time they spent on the island was going to be just a bit of fun with no adults. They now have realized it wasn’t fun at all. This upsets them and is probably one of the reasons Ralph starts crying at the end. These tears are an outward sign of the inward emotion Ralph has been feeling. The outburst signifies final acknowledgement of all the issues that he has had to face. He only realizes these when the officer, representing the civilized world provides the contrast. The officer has said this statement in jest but really the total opposite has happened. It has been no fun and their time there has certainly not included playing a few games. Instead they are covered in war paint trying to hide their identity behind a mask because they have changed so much.
‘What have you been doing? Having a war or something?’
The next thing he also says is in jest when this has really happened through the novel as shown above. The island WAS a complete war zone. It is just so irritating for the boys because they are so mad about what has happened. They find it hard to cope with a stranger saying these things in such a casual tone. He has no idea what has happened and what the human race is really like in certain situations.
The officer follows this on by asking if anyone has died. He says this thinking that people may have died when they arrived or on the island by accident but, instead people have died due to human savagery which this stranger knows nothing about.
‘I know. Jolly good show. Like the Coral Island’
This comment is most frustrating to the readers because they know he has no idea what goes on in the book. The readers have had this insight into what humans are really like, with evil trapped inside them. He helps to explain the motto of the novel further – being just another person who probably doesn’t believe that there is evil in everyone or just hasn’t come to terms with this fact yet. He, like many people, doesn’t see how humans can become so savaged when they are left to their own devices.
The whole environment on the island had changed so drastically, from before where we saw all the happiness of the boys expressed in their excitement of the prospect of no adults, to now when there is nothing but grieving and sadness shown on the island. ‘The roar of the forest rose to thunder’, with nothing but sad sights of nature left on the island it portrayed a war zone. The boys had changed from being perfect boys in, ‘Shorts, shirts, and different garments they carried in their hands,’ to, ‘Brown, with distended bellies of small savages.’ Everything had fallen apart, the nature of the island and also the boys themselves.
I think the best quotation to finish is when Ralph thinks about the idea of,
‘The strange glamour that had once invested the beaches. But the island was scorched up like dead wood.’
This is a great line to end with because it sums up how the island has changed so drastically. It went from perfection to disaster because humans were left to manage themselves with no rules and support.