In order to survive as a human being, one must have the five basic needs to self-actualisation as theorized by humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow; these are needs such as food and water, safety, belonging and esteem. (Heise, 2014) With this in mind, it is important to not only consider the purpose of society but also the need that creating a society fills in multiple survival situations. Importantly, society is often defined as a group of people working together in order to ensure survival. For instance, in William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies and Wes Balls The Maze Runner each individual society is constructed in order to ensure survival in crisis situations. Firstly, as both texts present a context of isolation with limited resources, this highlights the need to divide into skill centred groups to ensure survival. Moreover, it is that same dangerous setting which causes the influence of fear and as such provides the motive behind constructing society to ensure safety. Overall however, it can be seen that society acts as a means to provide order, in so much as the deterioration of power structures leads to dire consequences. By understanding how each society is constructed, from group co-operation to the need for hierarchy and leadership, we are able to understand whether or not that society can be deemed as successful in the end.
Firstly, societies depend on the organisation of people into separate groups in order to provide the basic needs which ensure survival. The society in Lord of The Flies establishes order so that they can reach the five needs of self actualization and ultimately, to survive. The characters in Lord of The Flies decide to have a meeting to determine how they will construct their society, ultimately deciding to split into groups. There are the hunters – provide physiological needs, gatherers and builders – provide shelter and fire guards who provide hope. For instance, Jack highlights the need for division based on skill when he suggests that, “All the same you need an army – for hunting. Hunting pigs” (Golding, 2012 pg 43). Here, this quote exaggerates Jacks demand for them to construct a society in order to ensure food which is a major prerequisite for survival. Golding has done this in order to amplify the idea of how the division of skills is vital as full cooperation and communication is required in order to ensure survival. Another moment which conveys the concept of how cooperation and shared skill to provide food ensures survival is when Ralph says, “We need hunters to get us meat.” (Golding, 2012 pg 43). This quote further highlights the significance of teamwork in the formation of society and the value of food in the boys’ situation. Similarly, the society in The Maze Runner also institutes a system based on shared labour which is beneficial for all characters and is successful and very effective. (Snape, 2014) The Maze Runner has formed a system of society which is very efficient, creating groups such as the runners, builders, slicers and the med-jacks. In this way, the work within the glade is divided in order to provide shelter and food for all, with an emphasis on fulfilling one’s role. For instance, one of the leaders of the glade, Alby states “First, do your part. No time for any freeloaders” (Oppenheim, 2014) thus meaning that in order to function a civilization everyone must cooperate and thereby ensure fairness amongst the labour forces. Furthermore, Ball presents the importance of coexistence as Alby continues the introduction of the maze to Thomas saying “Second, never harm another Glader. None of this works unless we have trust.” (Oppenheim, 2014) This quote highlights the importance of trust and everyone working together as one so that all characters can stay alive. Above all, in both texts the basic construction of society is shown to require the creation of separate groups in order to effectively divide labour, therefore providing essential food and shelter necessary to ensure survival.
Overall, society is constructed out of necessity as the influence of fear and perceived danger creates the need for individuals to find safety in numbers. In Lord of The Flies, all the characters decide to stay together as one group as a means of maintaining safety and security from outside forces. In so much as, Golding utilises “the beast” (Golding, 2012 pg 46) as a symbol of fear which propels the boys to form a mob in the interest of survival. Importantly, the incident involving the death of Simon is a prime example of the means the boys resorted to in order to preserve themselves. As Simon approaches the group on the beach, the “solitary and reclusive” (Oliver, 2015) figure is contrasted against the mob and ultimately viewed as a threat. In this way, the mob frenzy overcomes the boys and ultimately leads to Simon’s death, “a murder” (Golding, 2012) which represents the loss of civility. Moreover, the fear and exhilaration exhibited in the chant “kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” (Golding, 2012 pg 188) highlights the violence that the boys, led by Jack, resorted to in order to preserve their own safety. (Sparknotes, 2019) Similarity, in The Maze Runner Ball depicts strict rules the Gladers implement in order to maintain the safety of the group, as anyone of the Gladers who is perceived as a threat to safety is ceremoniously exiled. As the “The maze is a dangerous place, (Oppenheim, 2014) the fear caused by the Grievers is similar to the perceived fear of the beast in Lord of the Flies, (Snape, 2014) as it creates a need for the Gladers to solidify themselves against the outside world. For instance, in the case of the exile of Ben the Maze itself is used as a means of exterminating any individual who may be seen as a threat to the greater community. As the Gladers use the “poles” and are ordered to “push him in” to the maze the need for self-preservation in a mob mentality is highlighted, as everyone knows that “no one survives a night in the maze”.(Oppenheim, 2014) With these examples in mind, it is clear that Golding and Ball highlights the concept that the benefit of the majority outweighs the benefit of the individual in order to maintain survival in the two isolated societies.
The societies in both texts establishes their own hierarchical structure in order to function successfully and provide order, however the consequences of leadership struggles force society into disarray with often dire consequences. The character of Ralph is picked as leader due to the rest of the children’s stereotype of an ideal leader, and Ralph fit the physical attributes, however he is not the most knowledgeable. From the beginning of the narrative, the island society in Lord of the Flies is constructed around the use of the “conch”, (Golding, 2012) which originally gathers them all to an assembly and from then on acts as a symbol for democracy and civility. However, towards the end of the book the conch “exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.” (Golding, 2012 pg 222) This symbolizes the fall and destruction of the society in Lord of The Flies, as everyone is out of control and violence and savagery has claimed them. Moreover, Golding illuminates the means of gaining power through manipulation of fear and basic needs for survival through the characterisation of Jack, who influences the rest of the boys into serving under his leadership. Indeed, Jack is shown as enacting his superiority over the other leaders Ralph and Piggy as he claims, “I painted my face-I stole up. Now you eat -all of you.” (Golding, 2012 pg 93) Ultimately, Jack’s manipulation of the boys leads to the savagery and demise of civil society, which is understood through Piggy’s death. Likewise, in The Maze Runner a power struggle ensures when the group of Gladers leaves the original society under the guidance of Thomas. While the character Gally tries to maintain power through the manipulation of fear as he claims “free? You think we’re free out there?… I belong to the maze, we all do”. (Oppenheim, 2014) In this way his struggle for ascendency over Thomas also has dire consequences as it leads to the death of Chuck, (Adan, 2014) who holds a similar position in society as Piggy in Lord of the Flies. Overall, in both texts Golding and Ball highlight the loss of order when power struggles ensure, which in turn presents a commentary on the flaws of the hierarchical structure of society and how it often falls victim to people’s ambition.