Essay Topics on CIVILIZATION: SAVAGERY, POWER, FEAR

English_Master February 3, 2016 No Comments

CIVILIZATION: SAVAGERY, POWER, FEAR

Civilization is when man meets his basic needs. Civili­zation begins to form when man is searching for something more; something better than just meeting his basic needs, for he has already achieved this. Civilization forms slowly and carefully, and once it is formed, it can change and be destroyed at any moment. Civilization is as fragile as an eggshell, and it has three basic forces that can destroy it: savagery, power, and fear. Savagery is when a people revert to their lost human instincts. Savagery is most often found in situations where the people are under extreme circumstances. One example of this is being stranded on a deserted tropical island. In William Golding’s book, Lord of the Flies, he has done just that. Golding had his characters revert to their lost human instincts. When the boys on the island finally catch a pig and get meat, the one hunter, and main character, Jack, cannot bear to let someone else tell his savage story.

He begins, “We spread round. I crept, on hands and knees. The spears fell out because they hadn’t barbs on. The pig ran away and made an awful noise-It turned back and ran into the circle, bleeding-We closed in-I cut the pig’s throat-“. Jack has reverted back to savage, uncivilized ways; his civiliza­tion has been shattered because of being stranded. Jack even gets the rest of the boys to join in, “As they danced, they sang. Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in.'” Savagery can destroy civilization. It only takes a small number, even a single person, to revert back, and everyone will soon follow.

Another example of people being savage is in the book, The Pearl, by John Steinbeck. In this book, when a family finds an unbelievably large pearl and tries to better their own lives with it, their friends and neighbors become their en­emies, they even begin to fight in their own family. Greed has caused the family and the townsfolk to revert back to being savages. One example of this is when Juana, the wife, tries to rid them of the pearl because she knows of its bad nature. Kino, her husband, catches her, “Her arm was up to throw when he leaped at her arm and wrenched the pearl from her. He struck her in the face with his clenched fist and she fell among the boulders, and he kicked her in the side”. Kino has struck his wife, his love, he has become savage, and yet he does not realize it. Later on in the book, once the family has run away from the town, they are hiding in a cave when the baby starts to cry letting the three hunters below know they are there. “Kino was in mid-leap when the gun crashed and the barrel-flash made a picture on his eyes. The great knife swung and crunched hollowly. It bit through neck and deep into chaetae he whirled and struck the head of the seated man like a Malone Kino had become as cold as deadly as steelier he threw the lever of the rifle, and then he raised the gun and aimed he could see the frantic frightened eyes, and Kino aimed and fired between the eyes”. Kino has become so sav­age about this pearl, as to kill three men. The town he used to live in, the life he used to live, his civilization, has all been destroyed due to this savage act. Kino’s civilization has crum­bled like the eggshell it is.

Another layer of the eggshell is power, someone must have the most, and someone must have the least. In the case of civilization, someone must be dominant, and someone must be oppressed. In Lord of the Flies, Jack was the dominant figure. He oppressed Ralph. When Ralph attempted to instill some sort of order, Jack just refused,”‘ Jack! Jack! You haven’t got the conch! Let him speak.’ Jack’s face swam near him. ‘And you shut up! Who are you, anyway? Sitting there telling people what to do. You can’t hunt, you can’t sing-‘ ‘I’m chief. I was chosen.’

‘Why should choosing make any difference?’

‘Just giving orders that don’t make any sense-‘ ‘Piggy’s got the conch.’ ‘That’s right-favor Piggy as you always do-‘”. In this fight, starting with Ralph, it is obvious that Jack holds the dominant power over Ralph. Civilization is comprised of who holds the dominated power. In Ralph’s case, his civilization in falling apart since, he is losing and does lose his power.

Lost power, or actually, power that was never really there, is present in The Pearl. In the beginning, Kino goes to the town doctor in search of help for his baby son. His son has just been stung by a scorpion. When Kino visits the doctor, who was not of his people. This doctor was of a race which for nearly four hundred years had beaten and starved and robbed and despised Kino’s race”, he feels the sting of the doctor’s power when he is rejected due to his lack of money. The doctor feels, “I am a doctor, not a veterinary,” but he does not know just how he has used his power to oppress this man, “And now a wave of shame went over the whole processional and the neighbors departed so that the public shaming of Kino would not be in their eyes”. The extent of the oppression and domination of these two can be seen so obviously. Civilization has played a mean trick on Kino, by serving him as the oppressed, and the doctor as the dominant. Civilization is once again crumbling.

The last force that causes civilization to crumble is fear. Fear can be used in so many times, in so many ways. When William Golding used fear, he chose to pick on the obvious person, the one most hated by the power holder. Ralph must fear for his life in the end, as Jack and his team play a deadly game of cat and mouse. “A face the savage peered into the obscurity beneath the thicketed. In the middle was a blob of dark, and the savage wrinkled up his facade. The seconds lengthened. Don’t scream. You’ll get back. He’s making sure. A stick sharpened. Ralph screamed, a scream of fright and anger and desperation. His legs straightened, the screams became continuous and foaming. H shot forward, burst the thicket, was in the open, screaming, snarling, bloody. He swung the stake and the savage tumbled over; but there were others coming toward him, crying out”. Jack is hunting Ralph.

Jack is using his control to cause unbearable fear in Ralph. Ralph’s civilization is gone; his eggshell has been crushed.

To crush the eggshell in The Pearl, it is not quite as sav­age. Kino’s great fear is the loss of his pearl, his prized possession, and he will do anything to keep it. But, to keep his fear real, the townspeople have to send people to steal the pearl, because without it there would be no fear for Kino. Juana says, “Will they follow us? Do you think they will try to find us?” and in response, Kino shows his fear by repeat­ing the last idea. “They will try. Whoever finds us will take the pearl. Oh, they will try”. Kino’s fear is very real, and he knows it, in fact, Juana knows it too. By controlling and keep­ing this family under fear, everyone else has the upper hand. This family even leaves their civilization, the land they know, all for this pearl, and it is all because of fear.

Fear, power, and savagery all cause the downfall of civi­lization. They work for the breakage of this fragile eggshell. These basic forces are the framework of these two books.