The Lack Of Compassion In “Lord Of The Flies” And “Long Way Gone”

Rehabilitating the sick with compassion

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies shows the boys left on the island. Ishmael Betah’s book A Long Way Gone depicts Ishmael, who was once human but had their humanity taken away by terrible circumstances. The boys are divided over who should take charge in Lord of the Flies. Ralph, the elected leader of the boys was chosen by the voters. Jack, however, does not agree with Raph and so they fight. Golding describes Jack’s look as, “His face had become shabby and freckled. He was ugly and serious without being silly.” Two bright blue eyes stared out from the face.

Piggy strives to make everything orderly and peaceful, so the “little uns” are not scared. Ishmael is shown as a dehumanized soldier who joins the army in order to avenge his family’s deaths. After being deeply affected by the war’s horrors, Beah returns to his former compassionate self at the Benin Home. This challenges Golding’s hypothesis that evil has a greater pull on humans than good. Ishmael beah has regained his compassion and can tell others about the events in Sierra Leone. This is contrary to Golding’s Lord of the Flies, which saw the end of order and rules. It also contradicts the lack of humanity that Ishmael experienced during his war years. [1]The Lord of the Flies’ boys kill the only way to order and rules they have. This is a sign of their lack of compassion. Piggy and Ralph are the last to see Jack’s signal fire. [2] Jack disagrees with Ralph. Piggy holds the conch and attempts to stop Jack and Jack. Roger was also leaning against the rock lever. “The monstrous red thing bounded,” the narrator explains.

Piggy was struck by the rock from his chin to his knees. The conch burst into thousands of white fragments, and then it vanished. Piggy said nothing and didn’t even make a sound. He flew sideways through the air, bouncing off the rock. Piggy’s head opened, and all the stuff that was inside began to come out. The sea turned red. Piggy’s legs and arms twitched slightly, much like a pig after it’s been killed. The sea breathed again with a slow, deep sigh. The water bubbled white and pink on top of the rock, and then it stopped sucking back again. (Golding 181)

Golding represents the demise of order and rules. When he said that the conch was “exploding into thousand pieces”, the narrator means that the boys have tarnished the only ways they could keep everything in order, which is the conch and Piggy. The conch was used by the boys to bring them together in mutual understanding. Golding tells us that “the body was gone” which is reminiscent of the end of reason. Golding continues narrating that “Piggy’s legs and arms twitched like a pig’s after being killed,” which demonstrates Piggy’s low popularity among the boys. Golding continues to describe the boys’ lack respect for Piggy by symbolism. “Sucking back again, Piggy’s body was gone” is a reference to how Piggy was an invaluable person to the boys. Piggy attempted to make other boys like the conch get along, but laws are no longer in place. The boys now have no reason to kill. [5]

In his book A Long Way Gone Ishmael Betah shows how his dreams of revenge for his family’s death turned into a daily reality. He was nervous and scared when he was first enlisted in the army. But after the first battle against the RUF, he became comfortable with his AK-47 and began to accept the fact that he would have to take brown brown for innocents’ deaths. Ishmael remembers how heartless he would be every day[6].

My family was my squad and my gun was my protector and provider. I was a fighter and a protector. My thoughts did not go beyond this. After fighting for two decades, killing was our daily life. I had no sympathy for anyone. My childhood was over without me knowing and it felt as though my heart had stopped beating. I knew day and night were caused by the sun and moon. But I did not know whether it was a Sunday [7]. (126)

Ishmael’s mantra was “kill or be murdered”, which represents his dehumanization. Ishmael became a child-soldier, which has also affected his mental state. Ishmael fears all the guilt he will feel if it were up to him to reflect on what he has done. Ishmael says that killing was his daily routine. I felt no pity at anyone,” which shows how Ishmael was so comfortable with his daily routine that it made him unable to stop to consider the risks.

Ishmael was aware that those he was murdering had loved ones. To his dismay, he realized that the people he was executing were told to kill their family members to get revenge. He would then have to suffer the full pain of guilt and loneliness as well as betrayal. Ishmael’s heart was frozen and he did not know whether it had been a Sunday or Friday[8]” emphasizing the fact that Ishmael could not even recall the date because he did not want to have to confront the guilt. Ishmael wasn’t able to see the point in thinking like the boys in Lord of the Flies.

Ishmael in A Long Way Gone acknowledges that the difficulties he faced were not his fault. He has perseverance and hopes for the future. Ishmael was allowed to speak at the UN Economic and Social Council, New York. Ishmael realizes that New York’s life is not what he expected. He was initially hesitant about living in a country with cold weather. But he found inspiration in hearing the stories of others from around the world and began to admire them for their persistence in tough situations. Ishmael explained how he came to feel compassion again and was able to believe in the possibility of a better future.

I’m from Sierra Leone. We are being affected by the war in which we have to flee the homes of our families and wander aimlessly around the forests. We are forced to participate in conflicts as soldiers, load carriers, and other difficult jobs. We are all here because we feel safe and can be part of something after everything has fallen apart. My family’s loss and starvation drove me to join the army. I wanted to make amends for my family’s deaths. I also needed to survive. That was why I joined the army. It wasn’t easy to be a soldier but it was necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask me questions. I’m no longer a soldier; I’m a kid. All of us can be brothers and sister. My experience has taught me that revenge isn’t good. I joined the army in an attempt to kill my family members and survive. But I found out that revenge is not something I should do. (199)

Ishmael states that “We get involved into conflict,” Ishmael is demonstrating his understanding and forgiveness. Ishmael got through it by forgiving Esther, Esther’s nurse, his uncle, and all the other Benin Home workers. Ishmael further explained that his innocence was due to starvation, loss of family members, and the need for safety and being a part in something when everything else has failed. This showed that he had forgiven himself. Ishmael also admits that he no longer considers himself a soldier, even though he was serving in the army. He thought that he was a kid before the war.

Ishmael’s young age forced him to face adult challenges. However, he was able to forgive himself and regain some memories of his childhood. Ishmael tells us that “revenge will never be ended” and that he has learned a significant life lesson. Ishmael has learned from his experiences as a child soldier that revenge is not an option. This knowledge will allow him to be a better person in all aspects of his relationships. Ishmael’s speech shows how Ishmael transformed since his time at Benin. Ishmael gained compassion during his stay at the Benin House and decided to share his story with the rest of the world. This was an act pure compassion. Contrary to Golding’s theory, Ishmael beah shows that traumatizing moments can lead to humanity being reconnected with humanity.

Lord of the Flies as well as A Long Way Gone are two films that show people who lack the ability to think rationally and must face the dangers of forgiveness. Lord of the Flies has no aftermath like A Long Way Gone which sees a dehumanized Ishmael become rehabilitated. Ishmael is clear in his understanding and can forgive himself. This will help him start the rehabilitation process. Ishmael acts with humanity in Lord of the Flies. Ishmael, however, is more humane than his horrors as a child-soldier. Golding’s hypotheses are rebutted, since there is concrete evidence of real life situations. Ishmael gains self-forgiveness from those around him and gains hope from them. Lord of the Flies is about the boys killing the only person who showed compassion. This left them without any reason to kill the enemy. A Long Way Gone sees Ishmael scouting the country for information about child soldiers. We believe that A Long Way Gone’s compassion is more powerful because Golding’s type of compassion has died.


  • ewanpatel

    I'm a 29-year-old educational bloger and teacher. I have been writing about education for about six years, and I have a B.A. in English from UC Santa Cruz. I also have a M.A. in English from San Francisco State University. I teach high school English in the Bay Area.