In the story Lord of the Flies, William Golding symbolically represents the idea that good and evil are in a constant struggle with each other – a struggle within each of us as well as within groups and society. An extreme circumstance often pushes a person over the line. The novel is based during World War 2, when a plane carrying a group of boys to be evacuated from England crashes on a remote, uninhabited island. When the boys become frightened by their feeling that a “beast” inhabits the island, it begins a series of events that leads to the breakup of the group into two warring tribes – one aggressive hunting gang lead by Jack, the other a more civilized and orderly gang lead by Ralph. Jack’s gang gradually becomes the largest as kids ignore Ralph’s leadership and defect to join the hunters. Most of the kids, but the hunters in particular, become more aggressive and eventually turn from hunting to violence and eventually to murder. When they suddenly find themselves rescued and facing a disciplined officer, the boys realize how far they had devolved from the good, civilized boys that crashed on the island.
At the beginning of the story, we see that the boys still adhere to the moral code of their English school lives. This is demonstrated in part when Golding writes, "Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space around Henry ... [into] which he dare not throw. Here, invisible but strong, was the taboo of his old life" (62). In this quote we see the original state of the boy’s early behavior, with the fear of authority -- parents, teachers, and police -- still weighing down on them. As the story advances more primitive and savage values seem to rule their island life. The change in Roger is a dramatic example, but the change is also reﬂected in the other boys who are close to him. Golding represents the change in Roger by showing how in Jack's tribe, he is relied upon to do the killing in defense by hurling a rock downhill at any intruder. Another example of how far the boy’s humanity has deteriorated is seen when Samneric says "You don't know Roger. He's a terror." (189). Samneric are expressing this fear and proving that compared to his past, innocent self, he has become a violent killer. The transformation of the beliefs and morals of the boys as the story progresses is astounding but Golding seems to imply that it could happen to any population of people unburdened by civil society.
In a famous social experiment from the 1970s, Philip G. Zimbardo, a PhD researcher at Stanford University, created a study analyzing the reactions of people put into either a subordinate or powerful, anonymous situation. To do this