W8, #5: THE RIGHT ENDING?

Set-Up: To say we’ve been curious how the story was going to end would be a vast understatement. The real question has less to do with ‘what’ happens to Ralph and more to do with ‘why’ it happens.

Challenge: Do you think that Golding made the right choice in having Ralph be rescued at the end of the story?

  • Part 1: Answer this question first based on your reaction to the ‘fate’ of Ralph as an intellectual consideration taking into consideration themes, symbols, and foreshadowing.
  • Part 2: Once that part is done, explain whether you think it’d have been a ‘better’ story — in terms of plot and the reader’s hidden desires — if Ralph had been caught by the hunters and had to face whatever they had planned

Length: 7+ sentences

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23 responses to “W8, #5: THE RIGHT ENDING?

  1. I think it was the correct thing to have Ralph be rescued, for the simple reason that only a very bad story kills the “hero” if it’s not for a good reason (e.g. saving city/kingdom, or in exchange for the life of loved one.) You can also see that Ralph won’t be killed because Golding would have finished him off before the ship came. It might have been a better story if Ralph had been caught, however I’m not sure that it would have been the best for the arguement that Golding is trying to make. Not only is he trying to point out the “baser” instincts of humans but also that humans have a inherently good side too.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Interesting point re: the hero and a greater calling/impact with the ‘death’. Not sure about the “before the ship came”, since it could have simply been that the ship never came. Right? I do, however, believe Golding would agree with your final point.

  2. The rescue of Ralph was initially a let down for me as a reader. I was completely prepared to witness the downfall of Ralph, brought by Jack and his tribe. I expected to Jack and his tribe to tear Ralph to pieces or something completely barbaric and what is worse when this did not occur I was truly disappointed. The rescue of Ralph is not Golding’s attempt to provide a happy ending but rather another method of proving his point that humanity is evil and truly ignorant to their own savagery. This is showed as right away the soldier that rescues these boys criticizes their way of life which is ironic considering that his occupation allows him to kill individuals daily. All characters within this story seem to symbolize an imperative side of humanity and Ralph relates to the more human side of our culture. He represents this in that he attempts to uphold his original goals but is sucked into the savage group on the island due to the fact that a need for turmoil within Ralph overcomes him and forces him to forget his ties to humanity. There is more clear symbolism in the characters of Roger and Piggy but it is just as necessary for the success of this story. This is true because Roger obviously represented pure evil and Piggy represents the civilized and intellectual side of humanity. We need both these representations because they are the two extreme sides of humanity and they hold the story in place due to the fact that they are complete opposites. The fact that I wanted to watch something terrible occur to Ralph as a reader further establishes Golding’s point because this need for turmoil is present within me as well. At the start to this story I truly wanted to see the boys get rescued but after taking this journey with the children it is as if I too have connected with evil present in myself. If the soldier had not been there to rescue the boys in the close of this story I would not have been able to realize severity of this savage quality in all of us. Any other ending would have seemed predictable and unintentional on Golding’s part and this is the most effective ending possible.

    ***

    Mr. Long: I was wondering if anyone would admit to this. (smile). Better yet, I really love the level of detail/reflection you offer. Very impressive. Great point at the end re: “savage quality in all of us”.

  3. I think that Golding made the right choice of letting Ralph live. After I finished the b0ok, I felt relieved that Ralph made it back home safe. I was secretly hoping for him to make it back because I thought that he didnt do anything wrong. After Mr. Long discussed this in class, I began to realize that Ralph was the cause of Jack’s revolt. I feared that if Ralph had been caught, he would not have made it out alive. Jack was being pushed into killing Ralph. If Ralph died that meant the book didn’t really need to go on further beacuse Ralph was the main charcter after Piggy and Simon died. The story would not be complete if Ralph had died on the island.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Key point re: “he didn’t do anything wrong”. This is our definition of moral ‘right’, I believe, but sadly mankind is capable of punishing the innocent, too. Not sure about the “didn’t really need to go further” since the book could have ended as he was caught, etc.

  4. I believe the foreshadowing and the themes were showing Ralph’s evolution. At first, Ralph was the most authoritative because of his tie to civilization. Then as savagery became the most appealing to the boys, Ralph was the leader who ‘held the boys back’ from the fun they could be having with Jack. After Piggy was murdered and Samneric had been captured, Ralph was the only one who had civilization lingering inside him. I think it was perfect that civilization, the thing that had proven his authority in the beginning and his weakness in the end, was what saved him.

    If Ralph had been caught and forced to face the “horror” known as Roger and the book hadn’t ended their, the story would have ended mass bloodshed. After the boys had hunted the only enemy left, they would need someone else to satisfy their thirst for murder. As the eliminated enemies, there would be more rivalry for power due to the decreasing size of the tribe. The fight would be intensified with fewer boys fighting for one title. Only one boy would be left, if he survived the battle with the last remaining threat to power.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Appreciate this point of yours: “Ralph was the only one who had civilization lingering inside him. I think it was perfect that civilization, the thing that had proven his authority in the beginning and his weakness in the end, was what saved him.”

  5. Being rescued in my opinion is the best thing Golding could do to end this book. I knew it was coming when Simon told Ralph ” I just know you’ll be rescued.” And I’m doing this without my book so excuse my not exact quotes.

    We discussed in class the meaning of this book and how WWII is the reasoning behind this book. Having the boys rescued symbolizes the ending of the struggle between the Nazi’s and the Jews.(at least that is how I see it)

    Truthfully, I am not the kind of person with these ‘hidden desires’ and would think the story would be terrible if Ralph would have been caught. From the beginning, Golding foreshadows the boys being rescued. If Ralph would have been caught, the plot would be destroyed and would be just like every other good guy, bad guy story where the good guy gets captured and tortured by the bad guy. If Golding did not have WWII and the Holocaust as a reason to write this book, it would have no significance in todays world as it does. But it is because of these symbolic references that make the story what it is today.

    I think I kind of went off subject 🙂

    ***

    Mr. Long: You definitely grabbed my attention here: “Having the boys rescued symbolizes the ending of the struggle between the Nazi’s and the Jews. (at least that is how I see it)” I do wonder, however, why you think that WWII is the only way that the book is justified. My gut says that the underlying element of human nature that Golding was looking at — while certainly highlighted in WWII — is something that is universal in time/location.

  6. In my opinion, “Lord of the Flies” could not have ended any other way.

    First of all, just looking at the necessities of survival, if they had not been rescued at such a convenient time, the island would have completely burned. The fruit trees, which were there main and only constant food source, would be completely gone. Their secondary food source, the pigs, would probably have died in the fire also. The clean water would be contaminated with ash from the fire. With all of the foliage on the island gone, no food, and no water, the boys would not have survived for more than a few days.

    Second, say Jack, Roger, and their tribe capture Ralph. What then? Either they kill Ralph or make him part of their tribe. If they kill Ralph, there is no opposition to Jack, Jack would no longer have power in his tribe because there would be nothing left to fear, and there would be nowhere for the story to go. Once the boys have fully progressed into Jack’s version of society and no one who opposes the society is left, there are only two options: they are rescued or they all die. Without opposition, without fear of the beast, and without conflict in general, there is no story. If they do not kill Ralph, they would have to make him one of their own. The same thing would happen if Ralph fully submitted to Jack; Jack would have no opposition, there would be nothing left to fear, and the story would not be able to move on. Where could the story go? They all die, Roger takes over, or Ralph keeps trying to evade the tribe. None of these could advance Golding’s idea more effectively than the boys being rescued when they did.

    Another reason why the story could not have ended in any other way but Ralph’s rescue is that it would mean that mankind has no hope. “Lord of the Flies” portrays the innate tendency toward savagery and violence in us all. We all have the ability to kill and we all have the ability to turn into savages. The rescue of Ralph gives hope to mankind. It shows that we as humans can get a second chance to live and make up for what we have done. The rescue shows that there is some good in us, it may not be the dominating force in our lives, but it is there. Without the rescue, the boys would all die, signifying that there is no hope for humanity and that eventually we will completely destroy ourselves.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Wow! Great response on so many levels. Love the reasoning you display in terms of breaking down the options. This is precisely what an Honors level argument looks like in terms of looking at all sides of the equation, as well as thoughtfully being able to tie them together.

    The “hope” issue in your last paragraph is dead-center of what Golding is looking at, in spite of the more morbid elements we focused on.

    Great job thinking about the post-fire world if they had caught Ralph. Clearly they would be in dire straights at that point. I do have one question. Roger does indicate a willingness to challenge Jack at the end, so I’d have to consider the eventual battle between the two of them. Just a thought.

  7. I believe that Golding made the right choice making Ralph being rescued at the end of the story. It was completely obvious that Ralph sooner or later would have been killed by the hunters, but Golding put a parallel connection to the beginning of the story to the very last scene of the story. Thus leaving us to ‘wonder’ what will happen to the tribe, what will happen to the boys when they return to society, and will they be able to tolerate rules and adults.

    However, I do wonder how long Ralph could withstand the hunters. But we all know that Ralph eventually would be killed, and one by one each boy would be killed by the most barbaric and guiltless hunter. But I think Golding’s ending makes us ‘wonder’, and that’s why its very successful.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Well, well, well, now here’s a fine argument: “but Golding put a parallel connection to the beginning of the story to the very last scene of the story. Thus leaving us to ‘wonder’ what will happen to the tribe, what will happen to the boys when they return to society, and will they be able to tolerate rules and adults.”

  8. I don’t quite understand the first part of the blog but I have something I need to say about the second part. There is a big part of me (a majority) that wanted to see Ralph dead really, really bad. Part of that part of me wants to see him die just to see what would happen to the rest of them. The other part wants to see him dead so he doesn’t have to live with the memories of that island. I hope I’m not the only one who wanted Ralph to go. I’m sure Mr. Golding has his reasons for how it happens but I wanted them to stay until the bitter end.

    ***

    Mr. Long: You are not the only one, no matter what anyone may say publicly. And there is a compelling “hunger” to see how the island would de-construct once Ralph/Piggy/Simon was out of the way. As a literary point, there would be no hero…so it might be an empty resolution; from a hidden human desire point,…perhaps this wouldn’t matter.

  9. I definately think that Golding made the right choice in having Ralph rescued. After all that he went through, I think that it was very important for Ralph to be brought back to civilization. He was always trying to resist the pull of the island and the appeal of savagery. I think in a way Golding wanted to show that Ralph’s intelligence paid off to some extent, because he is eventually rescued but it faltered when it could not keep the other boys from becoming brutal and cruel.

    Second, I really don’t think the story would have been better if Ralph was caught by the hunters. With Simon and Piggy both killed, there was no other rational character left to fight for civilization besides Ralph. Also, after reading the story, one could suggest that Ralph’s group was ‘good’ and Jack’s group was ‘evil.’ I think that Golding knew that if the reader perceived the boys this way, he couldn’t let evil triumph completely. It seems often that there is more evil in the world than good, which could parallel with the fact that Jack had an entire tribe but Ralph was alone. Still, the chosen ending shows that pure motives don’t always succeed immediately, but at some point they are eventually rewarded.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Without what you said here, how can their be ‘hope’? Good point: “I think in a way Golding wanted to show that Ralph’s intelligence paid off to some extent, because he is eventually rescued but it faltered when it could not keep the other boys from becoming brutal and cruel.” Also appreciated this: ” Still, the chosen ending shows that pure motives don’t always succeed immediately, but at some point they are eventually rewarded.”

  10. I was relieved and satisfied that Ralph was rescued. Golding was brilliant in ending with Ralph’s rescue because it fit with the way he presented the story. That is not to say that the ending was predictable, as he weaved the story with so much drama, but I felt that Ralph’s rescue made sense even in the world of chaos and violence. First, Ralph was in the story from the beginning as the protagonist. We were introduced to Ralph, even with flaws in his character that foreshadowed trouble and uncertainty. Then throughout the story, we “hear” him thinking and maturing, and we root for the protagonist to be rescued because he certainly deserves to be rescued. This is especially true with the introduction of Simon, who symbolized Jesus-like qualities. Even in the world that represented the worst of humanity, Golding brought in a ray of hope for salvation through Simon, and Simon somehow delivered salvation for the imperfect protagonist. We, the readers, needed to just visit the island with Ralph, not live there.

    I do not think it would be a “better story” if Ralph was caught and had to face the blood-thirsty hunters. The melee following Ralph’s capture would be very violent indeed, and the description of the violence would not contribute to the insight Golding would want the reader to experience. It would make the fire, symbol of hope and rescue, meaningless. It would make us wonder why Simon was introduced. Further, with the entire island burnt up, Golding created a situation in which there was no more hope. There would be no more fire or food. Any delay in rescue would mean the death of not only Ralph but also all the little ones as well as Jack. The whole story would be pointless with such an ending. There was foreshadowing of Jack’s power and Ralph’s joining the hunt that was disturbing, but to allow “evil” to triumph when there was “good” would somehow seems inadequate as a story. I like the ending as it is written.

  11. The fact that Golding let Ralph survive for the conclusion of the novel was, in my opinion, rather cruel of him. I would have much rather preferred for Ralph to be killed then to go back home to a place that he’s no longer familiar with, let alone be able to live in again. He’s seen two of his friends killed before his eyes so he must be scarred for life or at least a little bit disturbed. Letting Jack and his tribe kill him would have been a lot better on the heart/soul of Ralph, but because he’s able to live, he won’t be able to live life the same anymore, perhaps not even enjoy it for that matter. Just like victims of accidents who end up being blind, or getting one of their limbs removed. They feel like it would’ve been much better for themselves and everyone else if they had just died (at least I think most of them think that way). Ralph has also become handicapped in a way, but not in a physical sense, but a more mental/emotional way. Ralph has been forsaken from his innocence as a child and his view on life.

  12. The end of LOTF was a real disappointment to me when I first read it because it was too good of an ending for the circumstances. I usually like to be shocked when I read, but this twist was too convenient for Ralph. However, the rescuer is necessary to point out restate that the boys are still kids. Children don’t have to take as much responsibility for their actions as adults do. When they make mistakes or do something terrible, there is always an adult to clean up the mess. The soldier that rescues Ralph acts as a paternal figure and criticizes their life style, much like parents scold their children.

    After thinking about it more, I realized that if the when the boys were rescued, all predictability went away. I expected the boys to savagely attack Ralph, Roger to take power from Jack, and for their ‘society’ to disintegrate into nothingness because of the corruption. This unexpected turn in the reading made the book more enjoyable, even though I had to wait a bit to appreciate it. If the ending had been as predictable as I thought it would have been boring and ineffective, and that’s not Golding’s style.

  13. I feel that Golding’s decision to let Ralph survive is a good choice for the Lord of the Flies. Ralph is a more rational character who thinks about the future of being rescued and less about the present of hunting pigs like Jack does. Ralph, representing order and civilization, is allowed to survive because order is what keeps people alive. Jack and the savages were THIS CLOSE to killing Ralph, but keeping the ties of civilization prevents it from happening.

    Although Ralph being caught and tortured at the end of the story would be more vicious (and therefore more entertaining to today’s society), Ralph being rescued portrays Golding’s ideas better. The author wants the reader to know that keeping order within a group is very important for everyone to live. Ralph not dying shows that Ralph wins and that he was right all along; civilization and organization is what allows people to stay alive. Ralph being killed will only tell the reader the dangers of savagery and the breakdown of order. It will not show that being civilized is more important and what wins in the end.

  14. If Ralph had died, Golding wouldn’t have had nearly the same impact on his audience as he did. In order to fulfill the use of the island and the boys as a microcosm to the rest of Earth and mankind, Ralph and the tribe needed to be rescued to tie up the “loss of innocence” and “who will rescue the officer?” themes and ideas. If Ralph had died, then the scene where the children wept for innocence would have disappeared, and I probably wouldn’t have been left as dumbfounded as I was.

  15. First off, letting Ralph be rescued allows Golding to satisfy the reader. But based on the symbols and foreshadowing of the book, I assumed Golding would bump off Ralph. Golding’s major theme through the book is that evil and violence are present in all humans. Through the death of Simon and Piggy Golding leads the reader to believe that this violence will cause the demise of our race and there will be no superior life form. For when humans become animalistic and savage they are no better than animals. However, the boys are eventually rescued, disproving the initial thought that we will destroy ourselves. Golding I think confuses the reader a little at this point, but maybe if he is paralleling LOFT with WW2 this is where the story makes the most sense. During the second world war we witnessed the genocide of 6 million people and saw how terror and threat can keep people from saving those they love. Most at this time probably thought that the world was truly over that humans could never recover, yet we proved to be more resilient than most assumed. Like Ralph we were saved from our selves by ourselves. And like Ralph the savagery of war and the ‘beast’ can never be abolished from life. OK back to the prompt… If all of the boys would have been destroyed it would have been a stronger more frightening message for a reader but it would be inaccurate. Destruction is not our fate, war, and death and sin, however, are.

  16. I thought that Ralph being rescued was necessary to redirect all the focus away from the boys and to the real world. Ralph’s rescue was needed for Golding to make his point. His point is that mankind is no different than it was before civilization, we’re still the same on the inside, even though we act differently on the surface.

    Now Golding would have that I would enjoyed Ralph being caught by the hunters and such. That was actually the opposite of what I really wanted. I wanted Ralph to destroy and wipe out Jack and his tribe. That would make the novel better for me. I know what would have happened if Ralph was caught so whatever would have happened wouldn’t surprised me at all. However, I remember when I was reading the chase scene I was really hoping for Ralph to go kill Roger or Jack as a sort of payback for Piggy.

  17. I believe the foreshadowing and the themes were showing Ralph’s evolution. At first, Ralph was the most authoritative because of his tie to civilization. Then as savagery became the most appealing to the boys, Ralph was the leader who ‘held the boys back’ from the fun they could be having with Jack. After Piggy was murdered and Samneric had been captured, Ralph was the only one who had civilization lingering inside him. I think it was perfect that civilization, the thing that had proven his authority in the beginning and his weakness in the end, was what saved him.

    If Ralph had been caught and forced to face the “horror” known as Roger and the book hadn’t ended their, the story would have ended mass bloodshed. After the boys had hunted the only enemy left, they would need someone else to satisfy their thirst for murder. As the eliminated enemies, there would be more rivalry for power due to the decreasing size of the tribe. The fight would be intensified with fewer boys fighting for one title. Only one boy would be left, if he survived the battle with the last remaining threat to power.

  18. I definitely think rescue at the end was the best way to end the book.

    If the boys had caught Ralph, yes, he would have been killed and savagely torn to pieces. His death would not be enough to satiate Jack’s lust for blood: by sharpening the stick at both ends, Golding foreshadows Ralph will have the same fate as the first sow Jack and his tribe brutally slaughter. Jack plans to savagely kill Ralph in the same manner and display his head on the stick. Ralph’s death would have symbolized the end of civilization on the island and the triumph of savagery. In my opinion this would be a terrible ending and Golding would have basically insulted all of humanity by giving us the message that we are all bad and evil WILL triumph in the end. This would mean that we, as humans, would have no hope.

    The naval officer arrives at the last minute and brings the boys to their senses, evoking their awareness of civilization again in the presence of an adult. I believe this is the best message Golding can give the audience. Evil and savage instincts are innately present in all humans (with the exception of few, like Simon), but the evil can be supressed and conditioned (which was symbolized by the arrival of the naval officer). Ralph’s rescue gives hope to mankind, a message that conveys the presence of good that is still present within us. That presence may be small, but it can still save us from total corruption.

    If Ralph had been caught, his head would have been placed on the stick and he would be a human version of the Lord of the Flies. However, the hunters/tribe would have been doomed. They, in their haste to capture Ralph, had set the entire island on fire. Even if Ralph was captured and killed, there would be no chance of stopping the fire. It would burn the entire island to the ground and take the savages along with it. This also alludes to the fact that humans who have fallen to savagery, while destroying the last link they have to civilization, will also take out and destroy themselves in the process.

  19. As I was getting to the end of the book, I was getting all excited. Personally, I think that when the good guy wins, the rest of the book, movie, or whatever you’re watching, or reading, is so boring. It was kind of fun to see the bad guy’s winning for once. But then, as always, Ralph ends up ‘bumping’ into a random boat captain and get’s him, and the rest of the boy’s on the island, rescued.

    The ending was such a let down, that I had to put the book down for a while. I think that Golding should have let Ralph be caught by his pursuers, and have Ralph try to deal with whatever Jack and the hunters had in store for him. The story just seemed, to me, to be going in a darker way. The ending was too happy for the plot that Golding had going on for the entire book. I mean Golding goes from the boy’s killing a mother sow, and Piggy, and doing these entire evil savage thing’s to, Ralph and crew being rescued. He even had Ralph being stripped from his power one chapter at a time. First he had the whole island on his side, and then he had the whole island burning and the rest of the kids trying to kill him like a pig. I guess this shows Golding’s unexpectedness and mastery of his writing stile.

  20. I think Golding made an excellent move by allowing the boys to be taken of of the island. I really like how ironic it is that they are rescued by a group that acts civilized with good manors and harsh rules, but also has a purpose to kill, or gain power. I feel this disappoints the normal reader, because most wonder how he would describe Ralph’s brutal death. I honestly feel that they are not rescued; they are just taken off of their island. If they were truly rescued, the situations that they were in would cease to exist, and life would go on. I believe back in their environments, they will behave the same, but have rules which will control their inner nature and vulnerability of savagery. I think if he had ended the story with the capture of Ralph, his message of innate tendency of animalistic thoughts. On all terms, the reader could guess that Ralph would make it off the island because of his determination that his dad would save him. In fact, his dad was even in the army. He was a Navy commander. Simon’s knowledge also led us to know that somehow or another, Ralph would make it out alive.

  21. No i think Golding ended the story that fast so he convey his message faster. I feel as though the ending was a bit rushed and obvious. While the way in which Ralph gets saved seems to be the best fitting escape for him if the story line is followed literally. I believe that the story would have taken a more interesting twist had he been captured by Roger and the tribe. However i cant tell what could have happened due to Goldings Premature ending.

  22. I think that having Ralph rescued at the end was the right decision. I think that it left the story as a cliffhanger so that the reader has to imagine what happens to the boys when they return to society. All the evidence of the crash and the bodies is gone so they won’t have to face what they did exactly. Now it’s interesting to wonder if they will return to being proper english students.
    If Ralph had been caught it still could have been interesting if the rest of the boys stayed on the island awhile longer. WE saw how when the “beast” was killed, Jack created a new enemy, Ralph, for them to hunt. We also see the growing fear of Roger near the end of the book. I think if Ralph was caught and they stayed eventually Roger would kill Jack. Imagine this, a month, two, three months later the boys are still there. They eat maybe two pigs a week, the population is growing scarce. The savages start to grumble, start to complain that the Chief can’t find them meat like he promised. Jack is now the enemy, and that’s the opening Roger needs to take over. And Roger wouldn’t do it in a one on one fight, or even a hunt. Roger would do it in the cover of night, brutally, with no glory for Jack or himself.

  23. I think Ralph should have been rescued at the end. It sort of pulled the story all together, and made everything seem ok if one of the boys was rescued. It’s like the fairy tale ending when one of the boys is rescued. If Ralph wasn’t rescued and he had died with all the other boys, it would have been a “dead” ending. Not very exciting ending, it would have made the book worse. Ralph is a very important role in this book, one of the main leaders. He has alot of responsibility and most readers would like to find out what happens to one of the boys, or at least one of them.

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