The Theme of Power in Kindred by Octavia Butler and Lord of The Flies by William Golding

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Words: 1707 |

Pages: 4|

9 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

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Words: 1707|Pages: 4|9 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Essay grade:
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Royalton Ambrose once stated “Those who have true power share it, while those who hunger power abuse it.” This is clearly shown in the novels Kindred, by Octavia Butler, and Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. One of the main points portrayed by both authors is how to exert and maintain power over others. Rufus, from Kindred, and Jack, from Lord of the Flies, both use similar tactics to maintain their power over their peers. Both attempt at hiding their insecurities by hurting others and abusing the power they are given, leading them both to fail at retaining their given power.

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In Lord of the Flies, written by William Golding, Jack attempts to hide his insecurities as he diminishes Ralph’s power while abusing his own. Lord of the Flies is about British schoolboys who find themselves stranded on a deserted island without adult supervision after their plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean. The boys elect Ralph as leader, since Ralph is the oldest; the boys assume he, Ralph, must also be the wisest. However, Jack wishes to be chief as well, which leads him to gradually seize power and authority from Ralph. The author portrays Jack as a born leader and competitive individual who in reality, is actually insecure and is affected easily by others’ opinions and actions. For example, when the boys decide to have a vote to choose their leader, Jack states, with simple arrogance, “I ought to be chief, … because I'm chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp”. However, the only boys who vote for him were the choirboys, and they did so “with dreary obedience”, since they feel obligated to stay loyal to Jack. The rest of the boys vote for Ralph instead, and when this happens, “Jack’s face disappears under a blush of mortification”, so Ralph offers Jack the role to be in charge of the hunters. Clearly Jack is insecure and believes that the power should belong to him since he is “head of the choirboys” and a “natural born leader”. Due to this belief, he attempts to seize power and authority from Ralph by badmouthing him to the rest of the boys when stating, 'He Ralph is not a hunter. He'd never have got us meat. He isn't perfect and we don't know anything about him. He just gives orders and expects people to obey for nothing. All this talk'. Jack constantly tries to make Ralph look like a bad chief in order to take the power away from Ralph and claim it for himself. Another way Jack attempts to gain his own authority is by abusing his power over the choirboys. In the later chapters of the novel, Jack makes himself the chief of his own tribe, which consists of all the “biguns,”except for Ralph, Samneric, and Piggy, and most of the “littluns.” Jack abuses his newly given power by using violence against Ralph’s group and even his own tribe members. He also continuously steals other people’s property for his own selfish needs. For example, when Jack is angry at Wilfred for his wrong doings, he keeps Wilfred tied up for hours as Roger beats him due to Jack’s command, and when Jack determines his crew needs to start their own fires by using Piggy’s specs, he plans a raid on Ralph's campsite to obtain them. During that raid, Jack, Roger, and Maurice use violence: 'hitting, biting, scratching.' The boys do not question Jack's decisions, and Jack uses the boys' fear against them. Jack threatens his tribe and tortures them for all to see; because of this, the boys all following Jack and listen to his commands to avoid getting punished.

Likewise, in Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler, Rufus attempts to hide his insecurities as he abuses his slaves to maintain his authority. Kindred is about a modern black woman named Dana who is taken from her home in California and is transported to a slave plantation in the South to save her ancestor’s, Rufus, life. Throughout the novel, Rufus, just like his father, uses cruelty, threats, violence, his race, and the slaves’ fear of him to hide his insecurities and to maintain his power and authority. Once he inherited his father’s position as slave owner, Rufus begins to believe that he has been given the right to control the lives of others which leads him to become a tyrant. In the beginning of the novel, Rufus Weylin is first perceived by the author as a curious and innocent young boy with slight insecurities. However, as the book progresses, Rufus turns into an abusive tyrant; a stereotypical Southern slave owner. As he grows older, instead of getting more mature, he becomes more evil and childish: he feels as though he is entitled to anything he wants and gets frustrated when things do not go his way. Rufus also does not take personal responsibility for his actions, but instead he blames everybody else for his problems and failures: “Rufe, did you manage to rape that girl?” said Dana...“Why would you do such a thing? She used to be your friend… “When we were little, we were friends,” he Rufus said softly. “We grew up. She got so she’d rather have a buck nigger than me!”. He basically blames Alice for forcing him to rape her; he says it wouldn’t have been rape if she would have just let him. Throughout the novel, Rufus constantly misuses his power that he maintains through violence, and he causes physical and emotional pain to those around him. However, even though Rufus is mainly perceived by the author as a cruel, abusive slave owner, there are some points in the book where he is portrayed as an insecure “child”: “Say something! Talk to me!” said Rufus “Or what?” I Dana asked. “Are you going to have me beaten for not talking to you?”. The author shows Rufus as a harsh person who beats and punishes others for their wrong doings, as well as a person who is insecure and always wants someone beside him to lean on and talk with. This is also shown before Dana decides to kill him: “Abandonment. The one weapon Alice hadn’t had. Rufus didn’t seem to be afraid of dying… But he was afraid of dying alone, afraid of being deserted by the person he had depended on for so long”. The author portrays Rufus as an insecure man, afraid of abandonment, so he exerts his insecurities and the anger within him onto others using abusive methods.

Jack from Lord of the Flies and Rufus from Kindred are both unsuccessful leaders because they constantly abuse the power given to them. Even though Jack, from Lord of the Flies, might be considered an effective leader because he maintains leadership, he is still not a good, successful one. A successful leader would take care of his followers, but Jack only has feelings for himself and his needs. He is not interested in trying to get his tribe rescued, nor does he care about anything besides his obsession with hunting and accumulating power. Due to Jack’s greed and obsession with obtaining more power, he allows his tribe to commit “savage” doings, such as stealing Piggy's glasses to start a fire, participating in Simon's murder and feeling no remorse for what had just occured, and allowing Roger to drop a boulder that crushes Piggy, causing him to fall forty feet off a cliff, and the conch Piggy was holding. Jack maintains obedience using violence and fear, which is not how a good, successful leader would act, and he even attacks Ralph directly with his spear. If the boys had not been rescued, Jack would most likely have gained complete control of the island, and it is inevitable that more deaths would have occurred, considering Jack had this tribe set the jungle on fire and hunt Ralph with spears. At the end of the novel, when the boys luckily get rescued before Jack can take over the island, the author portrays Jack for who he really is: “The officers asks, “Who’s boss here?” “I am,” said Ralph loudly. A little boy who wore the remains of an extraordinary black cap on his red hair and who carried the remains of a pair of spectacles at his waist, started forward, then changed his mind and stood still”. So even though Jack is an intimidating, violent person who maintains leadership by force, he is also portrayed as just a little red-haired boy who is intimidated by others. In the eyes of the boys, Jack is seen as a powerful, savage chief. However, to the naval officer, and the readers, Jack is seen as just a “little boy.” Likewise, Rufus, from Kindred is not considered as a successful ruler which is shown when Dana ends up killing him at the end of the novel after she is fed up with his abusive ways: “I Dana could feel the knife in my hand, still slippery with perspiration. A slave was a slave. Anything could be done to her. And Rufus was Rufus — erratic, alternately generous and vicious. I could accept him as my ancestor, my younger brother, my friend, but not as my master, and not as my lover,”. Since Rufus is such an “erratic” individual who has a tendency to make wrong choices when things do not happen in the way his wants them to, Dana “twisted sharply, broke away from him… raised the knife… sank it into his side”. She kills Rufus in order to relinquish hers and the other slaves fear of getting abused any further. Dana is fed up with helping Rufus any longer and getting abused for it, so she ends Rufus’s life in order to keep hers.

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In conclusion, the authors of both novels portray the different techniques used to exert and maintain power over others. William Golding and Octavia E. Butler’s have one common technique: they portray their character as an insecure individual who attempts to hide their insecurity and maintain authority by hurting others and abusing the power they are given. The techniques used by both Jack and Rufus to maintain power leads to the exact opposite; both lose their power and authority and have unsuccessful endings. 

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Overall, the essay is well written and informative. However, it needs work in terms of writing smaller sections, including section headings, grammar, and citation of evidence. The evidence provided needs to be cited with the author’s last name and page number.

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The Theme Of Power In Kindred By Octavia Butler And Lord Of The Flies By William Golding. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 23, 2024, from
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