Lord of the Flies became popular at the onset of the 1960s, a decade that witnessed an increase in both the number of teen-agers in America and the influence of their ideas. More than thirty years after the book’s publication, the situation of many modern American young adults bears significant similarities to the crisis situation of the British schoolboys whose tale is the subject of the novel.
Like the Characters in Lord of the Flies, contemporary young adults in urban environments must often fend for themselves in order to survive the rugged life of the streets. Young people everywhere sometimes have trouble finding trustworthy adult guidance, while peer pressure-which compels young people to lose an individual sense of identity and morality-is pervasive. In one respect, Lord of the Flies presents a step-by-step study of how peer pressure can lead adolescents away from the values they once embraced and the people they once respected.
When the young people of Lord of the Flies find themselves the only survivors of a plane wreck, they must adjust to living in a world without adult authority and rules. They must somehow find a new way to organize a society that will ensure physical survival and social justice. The boys in Lord of the Flies must confront forces of destruction on the island and in themselves that they cannot understand. As the book continues, their makeshift government disintegrates, giving rise to a brutal gang bent on destroying those boys who have tried to form a purposeful, just society. Violence becomes the order of the day, unleashing primitive instincts.