The Hunger Games' and 'Lord of the Flies': the Power of Immorality

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Table of Contents

  • Morality's Unraveling in 'The Hunger Games' and 'Lord of the Flies'
  • Civilization vs. Savagery: Moral Struggles in 'Lord of the Flies'
  • Conclusion
  • Reference List

In the realm of literature, stories often serve as mirrors that reflect various facets of human nature and society. Two such iconic narratives, 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins and 'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding, delve into the complexities of human behavior under extreme circumstances. While separated by genre and setting, both novels offer intriguing insights into the darker aspects of human nature and the fragility of civilization. 'The Hunger Games' portrays a dystopian future where a totalitarian government forces children to compete in a televised death match, highlighting themes of oppression, rebellion, and survival. On the other hand, 'Lord of the Flies' explores the struggles of a group of British schoolboys stranded on a deserted island, revealing the thin veneer of societal norms as it unravels into chaos and savagery. Through a comparative analysis of these two works, in this essay on 'The Hunger Games' and 'Lord of the Flies' we seek to examine the common threads and distinctive elements that each narrative weaves in its portrayal of power dynamics, the loss of innocence, and the human propensity for cruelty when confronted with adversity. By delving into the intricacies of these tales, we gain a deeper understanding of the intricate relationship between human nature and the societies in which we find ourselves.

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Morality's Unraveling in 'The Hunger Games' and 'Lord of the Flies'

Gary Ross’s and William Golding expose the transformation of morality from innocence to malicious savagery. Savagery, the trait the contradicts civil and the origin of all mankind and is hidden deep inside all of us to be revealed when we succumb to certain violent environments, is a leading theme that intertwines the two texts of Lord of the Flies and the Hunger games. The two texts display the fall from innocence to inherent evil through the decay of morals. In the dystopian universe of The Hunger Games the individual who possesses all the power lacks morals from the start, however in Lord of The Flies, Jack gains superiority from an equal hierarchy to then carry out savage acts. Moreover, Crane, being the games master, manipulates the characters to turn on each other through the loss of their morals within the controlled environment of the game, wheres in Golding’s Lord of the Flies the boys ethics are surrendered in the absence of authority and laws to govern the society in balance. Morality being the principle reliant on an individuals capability to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong is used by the two authors to uncover the conception that these values cannot be upheld in the shadow of amoral beings, without the presence of a balanced society.

Golding and Ross reveal the extent of chaos in immoral leadership as it leads to the barbaric treatment of characters. President snow, the vulgar leader of the oppressive state that controls every step of the population through harnessed hope, fear and unparalleled power. His system of positioning children, a figure of innocence, in an arena where they’re given no choice but to “fight to the death” uncovering the downgrade from an honourable human to an object with the soul purpose of entertainment with no values. The capital thrives on this forceful loss of values to prevent the possible rebellion from other districts. Peeta is aware of his possible loss of principles and is afraid the games could “ turn him into somethings he’s not”. This fear of objectification and being just “ another piece in their game “ is all in fault of the president showing nothing but evil value. Just as the Hunger Games does this, Golding depicts the the brutality in the result of an immoral leader. However, in Lord of the Flies, Golding instead starts with a balanced society where the boys “have rules and obey them” so they can steer away from savagery. But Jack, a natural born leader with a mindset of chaotic intentions, ignores authority unless its his own and the younger boys then turn to neglect values and result in savagery. In contrast to the Hunger Games, their undoing of morals is not forced on them by a superior leader but instead is influenced by Jack and their own nature of primal savagery in an absence of pure authority. The boys then turn to Jacks irrational and violent way of leading to turn on Ralph and become “ bloodthirsty “ hunters. Both texts address a single perpetrator that majorly effects the characters morality, and we are shown the true dangers of saturnalian leadership on incapable beings.

Golding and Ross expose that morality is structured by the society and environment it is in. Ross implement his characters into a compulsory game. This game retaining the unwritten law of “ kill or be killed “ pressure the individuals into a mindset where they abandon all values that they once had in their previous peaceful live. They now must become accustomed to a “kill or be killed” surrounding where murder is gracious as it entertains the viewers. Unlike Golding’s depiction of loss of principles through natural nature, Ross formulates demons from the start and demonstrates the little buy still existing hope the characters have by “taking the kids from their districts, forcing the to kill one another, while they watch”. Golding features the necessity of a structured to be able distinguish the concepts of right and wrong. The differentiating is lost through the absence of the moral leader Ralph, the soul symbol of hope for the boys through laws and rules, and the uprise of Ralph, a symbol of chaos through violence and undomesticated behaviour. Lord of the Flies shows how rapidly an honest being can progress into a corrupt like demon in these elements as in the end, they can’t determine themselves asking are they “Humans? Or animals? Or savages?”. Opposite to The Hunger Games the boys aren’t literal forced into this mindset of savagery, but instead transform in to this state due to the lack of typical societal guidelines. The boys, unaware of their own “ lawful word was slipping away “ remain in a state of despair, unable to deterring basic human ethics. In both texts the lack of structure environment and societies result in destruction and confusion among the characters, however in The Hunger Games the game forces the immoral behaviour among the tributes where as Lord of the Flies the evil is a result of lack of rules and societal regulations.

Civilization vs. Savagery: Moral Struggles in 'Lord of the Flies'

Golding and Ross bring to light the rarity of someone who is able to reinforce their own morals and those who can, characterise unique strength and self dependence. In the Hunger Games, The games master does does everything in his power to transform the tributes to bloodthirsty savages through the games, however Katniss and her newly acquitted friend Rue oppose the merciless rule of “kill or be killed” by standing by their morals and not involving themselves in violent deeds. Rue firstly displays this when Katniss is stung by man made deadly bee’s and is critically injured as she passes out while attempting to escape from being hunted down by other tributes. Rue then takes the unconscious Katniss into hiding where she treats her wounds rather than easily and violently killing her. Following on, As Rue is killed by another competitor, Katniss puts together a gracious burial in remembrance of sweet Rue putting up a hand gesture that in turn becomes the beacon of hope for all districts as Katniss goes by her own kind moral values. These events defy the games seen as a symbol of violence which in turn provides hope the only thing “stronger than fear” to victims of the totalitarian world. In addition, another example of strong morality being shown is in the last act of the game, as Katniss and Peeta are the final two competitors. The two deny the games rules of a soul winner as the game demands and make their own choice of suicide. This act portrays their existence of humanity as they steer away from killing resulting in the defiance of the capital and showing that “they don’t own them”. In distinction to Lord of the Flies this savage nature is not forced like the Hunger Games does. In Lord of the Flies, Ralph is the symbol of civilisation and democracy and parallels the strength that Katniss displays in Hunger Games with Jack being the opposite as he symbolises dictator ship similarity to President Snow. The balanced functional society at the start of Lord of the Flies is rapidly converted to a competition between the desire for bloodlust violence or teamwork and structure. This is depicted by the once innocent boys being transformed physically and mentally into savages by covering their pure identity with paint and masks as they are “ liberated from shame and self consciousness”. Undeterred by the murders of Ralphs comrades Simon and Piggy and the result of Ralph having to cover for himself, Ralph still keeps his morals close and doesn’t descend to their immoral savage behaviour. The fear that gave Ralph “Spasms of grief which seemed to wrench his whole body” was still not enough to deter him away from his values. Golding and Ross clear show the strengths that are demonstrated by the individuals who can maintain their values and ethics even in dire situations when’re lives and safety are at risk.


In Golding’s 'Lord of the Flies' and Ross’s 'The Hunger Games', morality is force that can make or break the strength of individuals. The dictatorship of an immoral leaders eliminates values and encourages savage like acts that cause chaos and detriment. President Snow and Jack are the prime examples of this. Moreover, Without a societal structure of rules and proper principles as another factor confirmed to irradiate the values in the characters. Furthermore, Individuals who can maintain and keep their own morals close to them show characteristics of strength and independence. Rue and Katniss stick to their morals even though they’re in an environment where hate, violence and death are all heavily promoted. Ralph also remains close to his principles while the other boys completely convert to bloodthirsty savages. These reasons show us how morality is effected in these two texts and how our own principles as human beings can be changed.

Reference List

  1. Collins, S. (2008). The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press.

  2. Golding, W. (1954). Lord of the Flies. Faber & Faber.

  3. Atwood, M. (2011). The Hunger Games. New York Review of Books, 58(5), 14-16.

  4. Bloom, H. (Ed.). (2010). William Golding's Lord of the Flies (Vol. 15). Infobase Publishing.

  5. Fry, M. (2014). The Lord of the Flies: A novel study. Primrose Hill School.

  6. Ghosh, D. (2013). Civilisation and Savagery in William Golding's Lord of the Flies. Language in India, 13(3), 152-164.

  7. Krane, S. D. (2012). Lessons from Lord of the Flies: This is not an Island. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 44(6), 608-621.

  8. Mathur, S. (2017). The Dynamics of Power and Authority in The Hunger Games Trilogy. The Criterion: An International Journal in English, 8(5).

  9. Miller, D. L., & Vandome, A. F. (2010). The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. VDM Publishing.

  10. Musa, D. M., & Laronde, M. A. (2013). Golding's Lord of the Flies and Ballantyne's The Coral Island: Constructions of Childhood. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 2(5), 234-238.

  11. Penner, J. E. (2011). The Post-apocalyptic Vision: Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games. Children's Literature Association Quarterly, 36(4), 386-390.

  12. Riffel, A. (2013). William Golding's Lord of the Flies and Human Nature. In American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law (Vol. 21, No. 2, p. 301).

  13. Rich, M. (2012). Lessons in brutality, from boys. New York Times.

  14. Salzmann, B. A. (2011). Revisiting the Lord of the Flies: From Book to Film and Back Again. History Teacher, 44(3), 399-410.

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