Analyzing Golding's The Lord Of The Flies

1357 words - 6 pages

Conforming to societal norms and following the hierarchy plays an important role in daily group dynamics that people participate in. The Robbers Cave study proved that along with the formation of these groups, ingroup hierarchy structures were formed. When certain members of this hierarchy did not live up to what was expected of them, they were replaced. This parallels Jack’s overthrow of Ralph in Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies. After Jack’s group stabilized, they formed a set of norms. This closely correlates with the findings in Sherif’s study, where the groups developed norms, and specific places and objects became associated as “ours”. Much like in Jack’s group, behavior was subject to these rules, and the offender would be subjected to “punishments” from ridicule to physical abuse. Golding’s emphasis on the influence of a group on the individual to conform to group standards and norms is supported by Sherif’s ideas on Social Hierarchy, where when individuals interacted towards commonly appealing goals, status hierarchies and group norms regulating the behavior of individual members was formed.

Muzafer Sherif is best known for the Robbers Cave study. His study took place over a period of three weeks at a summer camp in Robbers Cave State Park, and was focused on intergroup behavior. 22 eleven and twelve year olds who had never met, and came from similar social and economic backgrounds were selected for the study. The first stage of the study was the “ingroup formation” where the boys were split into two groups. The groups did not know of the other group’s presence on the site. The next stage was the “friction phase” where the groups engage in competitive situations in different games, and prizes were given to the winner. This caused the groups to display negative behavior and attitudes towards the other. The final stage was the “integration stage”, where tensions were reduced between the two groups with teamwork tasks, which required intergroup cooperation.

Although Ralph assumes the position of leader in the beginning of the novel, Jack will soon overthrow him as the group decides he is not fulfilling his role properly. Many of the individuals on the island did not know each other, however, some were united as Choirboys. “ ‘I ought to be chief,’ said Jack with simple arrogance, ‘because I’m chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp’ ” (22). This already formed hierarchy will be a source for trouble as the boys attempt to form a new group. "When individuals having no established relationships are brought together to interact in group activities with common goals, they produce a group structure with hierarchical statuses and roles within it."(Sherif) In the study, despite having no established relationships, a power struggle ensued, thus, proving that in circumstances where there are outside differences among the group from the very beginning, it will just exacerbate the conflict and competition. Ralph, as leader, attempted...

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