Lord of the Flies

Organizational Behavior of Individual vs "The Pack"

Katy Yut and Sydney Stevens

Engagement Activity


“Organizational Behavior is the study of individuals and their behavior within the context of the organization in a workplace setting. It is an interdisciplinary field that includes sociology, psychology, communication and management.” (http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/library/research/subjectguides/organizationalbehavior.html)

Throughout the novel Lord of the Flies, it is evident that the characters act very differently when they are alone versus when they are surrounded by other members of “the pack”. This idea was demonstrated in our engagement activity because the actions taken by the group differed greatly from the actions taken by the individual, even though the goal was the same. When each team was given one pair of scissors to cut out the circles, the group struggled because they were not given materials fit for a group and each person had different opinions on who would be the best person to complete the task. However, when multiple scissors were given to complete the same task, the single person struggled because they only have two hands whereas the group had multiple people to work at once. In both scenarios the objective was the same: cut out the most circles. Yet depending on the circumstances and whether the task was completed alone or in a group the results varied greatly. This exemplifies the fact that our behavior and mentality changes when we are alone versus when we are in a group.


Passage 1

"'All right. Who wants Jack for chief?'

With dreary obedience the choir raised their hands.

'Who wants me?'

Every hand outside the choir except Piggy's was raised immediately. Then Piggy, too, raised his hand grudgingly into the air.

Ralph counted.

'I'm chief then.'

The circle of boys broke into applause" (Golding 19).

It is evident right from the start that in the society the boys are accustomed to, group mentality is innate. They immediately decide that electing a chief to lead is step one to survival and success. They recognize the importance in them sticking together as a cohesive whole, as opposed to separate, disjoined clusters all trying to survive alone. Because of this need for a group, the boys quickly come to the conclusion that they need to organize the group in such a way that one person has authority over the others and can therefore be more effective.

Passage 2

“‘We’ve got to have special people for looking after the fire. Any day there may be a ship out there’ -- he waved his arm at the taut wire of the horizon -- ‘and if we have a signal going they’ll come and take us off. And another thing. We ought to have more rules. Where the conch is, that’s a meeting. The same up here as down there’” (42, Golding)

This sequence of events is at the beginning of the book, soon after the boys crashed on the island. They were originally very disorganized so Ralph and Jack took charge to organize the group. Ralph is the speaker in this particular quote that is demonstrating how he took the role as a leader in “the pack”. Right after this, Jack also assumes the position of leader by taking control and saying what his section of the group will be in charge of.

Passage 3

“Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space around Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law. Roger’s arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins” (Golding 57).

Roger very clearly is controlled by the forced expectations of his old life. He is expected to follow the rules, to be nice, to go to school, to do what he's told. These expectations are the only things keeping him from letting his personal desires take over (which eventually do in the end). It is in this scene that we first see Roger's true character as an individual. He wishes to inflict pain without consequences, which he cannot do while confined to the organization of a civilized group. Roger's morals, beliefs, and desires do not fit into the expected behavioral organization of a group.

Passage 4

"Again the pressure of the assembly took his voice away." (128, Golding)

"You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?" (143, Golding)

The first quote is during an assembly with the group in which Simon suggests that he has some useful information. However, he was too afraid to speak because he always believed that he was the problem for the group. But the second quote is during the scene in which Simon discovers that the Beast is within them. The Beast is speaking to him through his subconscious to reveal this information. This goes to show that when Simon is alone, it gives him clarity and he is able to discover things he would not be able to in a group environment. In the group, Simon always felt as if he were the problem and cause of their troubles, but when alone he is able to find out that he is not the problem and the Beast is within him.

Passage 5

“The littluns led a quite distinct, and at the same time intense, life of their own. They ate most of the day, picking fruit where they could reach it and not particular about ripeness and quality. Apart from food and sleep, they found time for play, aimless and trivial, in the white sand by the bright water. They obeyed the summons of the conch, partly because Ralph blew it, and partly because they enjoyed the entertainment of the assemblies. But otherwise they seldom bothered with the biguns and their passionately emotional and corporate life was their own” (Golding 54).

The littluns, while part of the cohesive group, were oddly separate as well. They did not demonstrate interest in benefitting the whole, only in bringing enjoyment to themselves. Their time was spent leisurely, not worrying about shelter, fire, or hunting, like the biguns. This can be attributed to their age and innocence. If you look into our society, at such a young age kids are not expected to take charge and be responsible of actively seeking improvement. Kids that young are not yet cognizant of expectations, and are not yet able to understand the needs of others. Priorities are essentially nonexistent, as they do not recognize that certain actions take precedence over others. It is for these reasons that the littluns do not follow the group mentality shared by the majority of the others.


In Lord of the Flies, there are several instances where we can see that characters act very differently when with the group rather than by themselves. Although we only discussed five of these occasions, there are several more that occur such as how Jack wants to hunt for pleasure and when Piggy provides his glasses to benefit the group. As the novel progresses, you can tell that Jack and Ralph are definitely people who attempt to be the leader of a group of people, whereas Simon is worried about messing things up in a group but is able to think clearly when he is alone. It's interesting to compare the motives of each character with their experience in a group and alone, because each scenario is different. While group and individual mentality have an overarching theme, these themes can be tested and challenged by outliers.

Discussion Questions

1. Which is more effective, working alone or working in a group? Why?

2. What is the most successful way to organize a group?

3. What makes a successful individual?

4. In Lord of the Flies, what type of organizational behavior would have yielded the best results?

5. What happens if the organizational behavior of a group is not conducive? (EX: all members are overpowering leaders, or all members are shy introverts, etc)