Moral Development and LOTF

Raghav Kotha, Kevin Yuan

Opening Thoughts

Throughout Lord of the Flies, Golding describes boys who have been abandoned on an island and their actions. William Golding included children at all different stages of moral development in order to show that people often stay or move backward on the stages of moral development.
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Engagement Activity

Judy was a twelve-year-old girl. Her mother promised her that she could go to a special rock concert coming to their town if she saved up from baby-sitting and lunch money to buy a ticket to the concert. She managed to save up the fifteen dollars the ticket cost plus another five dollars. But then her mother changed her mind and told Judy that she had to spend the money on new clothes for school. Judy was disappointed and wanted to go to the concert anyway.

What should Judy(if you were in her situation) do?


Stage 1/2- stay at home to avoid punishment


Stage 3/4- go to the concert and take the punishment


Stage 5/6- go to the concert and not get in trouble because she did what she think is right

Quote 1

"He paused, defeated by the silence and the painted anonymity of the group guarding the entry. Jack opened a pink mouth and addressed Samneric, who were between him and his tribe.

“You two. Get back.”

No one answered him. The twins, puzzled, looked at each Other; while Piggy, reassured by the cessation of violence, stood up carefully. Jack glanced back at Ralph and then at the twins.

“Grab them!”

No one moved. Jack shouted angrily.

“I said ‘grab them’!”

The painted group moved round Samneric nervously and unhandily. "


The group is exhibiting Preconventional Morality because they are only listening to Jack to avoid punishment. This can be more specifically known as stage one. Jack wants his group to capture Samneric but they feel uneasy and are very nervous.

Quote 2

"I cut the pig's throat," said Jack, proudly...the boys chattered and danced. The twins continued to grin.

"There was lashings of blood," said jack, laughing and shuddering, "you should have seen it!"

"You let the fire go out."(Ralph)



In this scene, Jack had gone off hunting, while Ralph had told him to tend the fire. A ship had passed by but they were not able to get its attention because the fire was out. Jack is showing Preconventional morality(Stage 1/2) because he is self centered and only does things that he wants to do rather than what he is supposed to.

Quote 3

"Piggy was […] so full of pride in his contribution to the good of society […] that he helped to fetch wood."


Piggy is showing Conventional Morality(Stage 3) because he wants to look good in front of others and is trying to feel purposeful.

Quote 4

"All this I meant to say. Now I've said it. You voted me for chief. Now you do what I say."

Ralph is currently in the Conventional Morality Level because he is stating that he was voted chief and people should listen to him because a person exhibiting Conventional Morality tends to follow the rules and wants others to uphold the law as well.


Quote 5

"Then, amid the roar of bees in the afternoon sunlight, Simon found for [the littluns] the fruit they could not reach, pulled off the choicest from up in the foliage, passed them back down to the endless, outstretched hands. "


Simon is exhibiting Post-Conventional Morality(stages 5/6) because he wants to help the littluns even though everyone else ignores them. He wants to help them because he felt bad for them and does this by handing them fruit from the highest points on the tree.

Concluding Thoughts

After examining the quotes, it is clear that Golding included the boys and their progression/ actions as those that can be represented by Kohlberg's 6 stage model of Moral Development. We realize that we can make these generalizations:


He included the Littluns, who were in the Preconventional Stage, because they were often individualistic when gathering fruits and often listened to the older kids so that they did not get in trouble.


Piggy and Ralph could be considered as people in the conventional stage, because they tried to make/enforce rules to keep order between the members of their group. They use the conch as a way to enforce laws.


Jack is part of the postconventional stage at first because he tries to do what he thinks is right, but soon progresses backwards to the pre conventional stages as he becomes self-serving and individualistic.

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Discussion Questions

1. Do you think that Ralph was a fit leader, or did Jack do the right thing by seceding (doing what he thought was right) and forming his own faction/group?


2. How can the change in behavior seen in Jack when he gained power be compared to the change in behavior seen in the pigs in Animal Farm?


3. After listening to the presentation, do you think Golding added characters that represented the levels of moral development on purpose or is just a coincedence?


4. If you were the chief of the faction/group, what would you have done differently than Ralph?


5. Do you think any characters(other than Ralph,Jack,Simon, Piggy or the littluns) could fit into a particular stage of development?