Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space around Henry… Here invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life… Roger’s arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins. (Golding 62) Our environment has much to do with the way we react during different situations, yes, but is it the main reason for our behavior? In the book The Lord of the Flies, a group of young boys are stranded on an island without any adult supervision. The author takes us through the story by demonstrating what happens when adolescents must depend on themselves without the comfort of civilization. The boys’ actions throughout the novel are not so much impacted by the environment, but the fact that their inner savages are finally able to roam free due to the absence of authority figures.
During our upbringing we learn the ways of life from authority figures present in our childhoods like parents and teachers, but during our teenage years is when everything starts to change. Amanda Leigh Mascarelli’s article, The Teenage Brain, discusses the many different factors of the human brain that contribute to our everyday thinking and actions. During the risk-taking and rewards-based tests, one region deep inside the brain shows more activity in adolescents than it does in children or adults, Crone says. That one region is called the ventral striatum and is often called the reward center of the brain.
This is because it moves us to repeat actions that receive rewards. In the boys’ case, their horrific actions resulted in one major treat, staying alive. Another region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex plays an important role in our decision making too. The prefrontal cortex is sometimes referred to as the master planner; it gives instructions and enables chatter among other brain regions. In the heat of the moment ” even when they know better, the reward system can outmuscle the master planner. That can lead to poor decisions, Casey says. This further explains the reason why the boys’ always give into temptations like playing instead of building a rescue fire.
Adolescents are particularly sensitive and responsive to influence by friends, desires and emotions, researchers say. The sense of an authority figure played a large role in the sequence of the book. Nearing the end of the book, Jack takes matters into his own hands by creating his own tribe. Jack offers food, protection, and play, which all appeal to the ?bigguns, resulting in them leaving Ralph’s side. He’s a proper chief, isn’t he? He’s going to beat up Wilfred He got angry and made us tie Wilfred up. He’s been tied for hours, waiting (Golding 159) Jack decided to assert his power onto his tribe and treat them as if they were his minions.
Of course, his tribe didn’t mind because the boys were under the impression that Jack was the closest thing they had to a parental figure on the island. Prior to adolescence, the master planner isn’t quite advanced enough to guide all the other brain regions. That’s because it still doesn’t know the rules of the game. So that’s why you have parents to act as your prefrontal cortex, During their time on the island, the boys’ closest thing to a parent figure was Jack, which explains why they made such rash decisions under his control. Some might say that the boys’ actions on the island were the result of long-term exposure to such a harsh environment.
Kendra Cherry’s article The Milgram Obedience Experiment states, “The social psychology of this century reveals a major lesson: often it is not so much the kind of person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that determines how he will act.” This statement can be refuted. Although environment does play somewhat of a role in bringing out our evil natures, biological factors and our individual ways of thinking have the biggest say in all of this. Dopamine levels in general peak during adolescence. In teenagers, the strength of this feel good response helps explain why they often give in to impulsive desires.
To sum things up, the boys’ actions at the end of the book The Lord of the Flies are due to biological and mental factors as opposed to their surrounding environment and upbringing. The environment around us doesn’t contribute to the making of our inner evil, but aids in bringing out the savageness within us. Our mentality and state of mind are the biggest contributors when it comes to decision making and the course of our actions.
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