*Spoiler Alert Gives Away Ending*
In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, there is a very important archetype of water. According to the archetypes page, water means change and this is vital to the story and its ending. A group of schoolboys are stranded on an unknown island without any supervision. The boys were happy and partying when they first arrived but that soon changed as they wanted to get off the island. As the leadership that was formed dissolves, the boy's descent into anarchy. The main character Ralph and his companion Piggy try to bring order back to chaos and are met with spears and hostility. Simon was killed and "[his] dead body moved out toward the open sea" (Golding 154). This is huge. This is the turning point in the whole book. The boys have killed someone and now the peaceful bliss they had can never come back. That death forever changed the boys. That is what the water symbolizes; the fact that the boys can never return to the innocence that they had. This also represents that a world without government can’t do good or be good. Simon was the representation of goodness and purity and he was killed by the other boys. Once the water takes Simon’s body away the change takes the goodness away and nothing is left.
Archetypes are used in almost every novel to help advance certain elements of the story. The archetype of water, which exemplifies change and growth, is also used effectively and frequently. I see many similarities with this archetype in the novels, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and, Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. In both novels, this archetype affects the characters, conflict, and the theme of the story in almost the same way. When a man named John Buford in Killer Angels, who is a cavalry soldier for the Union, gets a moment to climb and stand watch his men in a cupola, he sits “listening to the rain” and he thinks how “the air [is] cool and wet and delicious to breathe” (Shaara 86). Then, soon after the downpour, Buford realizes “the guns began” and there was “a single shot… [then] another” (86). Since there had been no previous fighting at Gettysburg— the battle ground that Buford secured for the war— this marks the first fight were everything starts. The use of different elements, beautiful rain and deadly gunshots, shows the quick change that is seen. The immediate shots and the outbreak just starting right after the rain, which is water, shows how the battle has now changed from outlook to action. This affects Buford because he is now being molded into the leader that the Troops have been expecting. He now gets a chance to command now that the battle has changed and grown into something more than it had been days earlier. This is a turning point or a mark of change, similarly to Piggy and Ralph in Lord of the Flies, when the boys have killed Simon and “the peaceful bliss they had can never come back” and “the boys can never return to the innocence that they had” (Ott). Though the Union troops have killed before and are used to fighting, they also are giving up a innocence and the peaceful time they had before the battle, which is a change from previous in the novel. Like Piggy and Ralph, they are giving something away, yet is is changing them. This especially affects the conflict because the mood has shifted from that peace to the vicious fighting, symbolized by the rain. This is also shown with the character Robert E. Lee in Killer Angels who is a revered general. Also on the first day of battle before the fighting, like Buford, experiences the rain that changes his role in the current battle— from waiting to doing. Lee “[comes] out of the tent into a fine cold rain,” but he notices “troops were already moving… looking in at him” (Shaara 73). This is also “the turning point” for which Lee now has to lead the troops and the conflict is now beginning (Ott). In both Buford’s and Lee’s case, the use of the water element shows change in moral and in the external conflict, but it also gives readers a hint at the theme. In Lord of the Flies, the standing government dissolves, sending the boys into anarchy and there seems to be a broken connection between the once leaders and the people, which causes an unsuccessful society. The theme of Killer Angels is similar between the two sides, but readers realize that enemies have more in common that they may think. The water archetype shows how both characters react to sudden change and know their roles— but also how much they care for their men because of it. With both of the side doing this, a connection between both if the sides is established.
The water archetype is very powerful in many novels, including Killer Angels, but also Lord of the Flies where more is revealed about character, which affects conflict and theme in both of the books. More can be seen with this simple element of literature that might not have been seen before.