M2L4: Historical Context Timeline

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    Major Events 1930-1954

  • "For the first time, the 30th U.S. Census asks whether the respondents owned a radio, reflecting an increased interest in communication technology..." ("Breaking News of the 1930s").

    "For the first time, the 30th U.S. Census asks whether the respondents owned a radio, reflecting an increased interest in communication technology..." ("Breaking News of the 1930s").
    "'-a conch'...'We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They'll come when they hear us-'" (Golding 12). Golding was likely intrigued by this efficient form of communication, utilizing the conch in the novel as a way to stress the important of communication in everyday life.
  • "The Nazi party becomes the second largest political party in Germany, overtaking the Communists" ("Breaking News of the 1930s").

    "'There's you and me and Samneric and-'...'Where's Bill and Roger?'...'I expect they've gone. I expect they won't play either'" (Golding 149). Throughout the novel, the reader can relate Jack to Adolf Hitler, and this event is "represented" in the novel when the majority of the boys choose to join Jack's tribe.
  • "Labor strife is widespread. In coal country, disputes between mine workers and operators turns deadly. A General Motors strike spreads to six states, putting 45,000 people out of work" (Ganzel 1).

    "Labor strife is widespread. In coal country, disputes between mine workers and operators turns deadly. A General Motors strike spreads to six states, putting 45,000 people out of work" (Ganzel 1).
    "'...they keep running off. You remember the meeting? How everyone was going to work hard until the shelters were finished?'" (Golding 53). In the novel, one can see how the majority of the boys in Ralph's group are refusing to work on the shelters. Golding likely noticed the labor strife in 1932, and discussed the boys' refusal to work to highlight and connect to it.
  • Adolf Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany (Ganzel 1).

    Adolf Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany (Ganzel 1).
    "Adolf Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany...And Hitler marches into Austria in 1938. Germany, Japan, and Italy withdraw from the League of Nations" (Ganzel 1).
    "'He's going to beat Wilfred.' 'What for?'...'I don't know. He didn't say. He got angry and made us tie Wilfred up" (Golding 183).
    Besides Jack's character and leadership being relatable to that of Hitler, Hitler's actions align greatly with Golding's idea of "man's capacity for evil".
  • "The Nazis revoke German citizenship for all Jews" ("Breaking News of the 1930s").

    "The Nazis revoke German citizenship for all Jews" ("Breaking News of the 1930s").
    "'See? See? That's what you'll get! I meant that! There isn't a tribe for you any more! The conch is gone'" (Golding 209). This major event was most likely one of the first that introduced Golding to "man's capacity for evil", and it is represented in the novel when Jack and his tribe ostracize Ralph, forcing him to survive on his own.
  • "King Edward VIII of England gives up his throne to marry Wallace W. Simpson, 'the woman I love'" (Ganzel 1).

    "'We'll hunt. I'm going to be chief'...'Now listen. We might go later to the castle rock. But not I'm going to get more of the biguns away from the conch and all that. We'll kill a pig and give a feast'" (Golding 151 & 152). This major event connects to Lord of the Flies, in that King Edward VIII gave up his throne to be with the person he truly loved, similar to how Jack left Ralph's group to pursue his love for hunting and give into savagery.
  • "In the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, a black Alabama native educated at Ohio State University, Jesse Owens, wins four gold medals" (Ganzel 1).

    "In the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, a black Alabama native educated at Ohio State University, Jesse Owens, wins four gold medals" (Ganzel 1).
    "He breaks Olympic and world records, but German dictator Adolf Hitler refuses to recognize the American's achievements. Hitler had declared that the superior German Aryan race would dominate the games" (Ganzel 1). Hitler's viewpoint regarding the Olympics and the superiority of the German Aryan race is similar to Jack's viewpoint regarding the superiority of his tribe and its hunters. This example of Hitler's perspective was likely noticed by Golding and purposely integrated into the novel.
  • Orson Welles broadcasts H.G Wells' The War of the Worlds on his weekly radio drama program, taking advantage of the "Martian hype" ("Martians: A Photo Gallery").

    Orson Welles broadcasts H.G Wells' The War of the Worlds on his weekly radio drama program, taking advantage of the "Martian hype" ("Martians: A Photo Gallery").
    "'Tell us about the snake-thing.' 'Now he says it was a beastie.'...'A snake-thing. Ever so big. He saw it.'...'In the woods'" (Golding 35-36). The "hype" surrounding Martians connects to the boys in the novel, in that people were concerned with the "existence" of another being (as the boys were with the "beast").
  • September 1939: "Schoolchildren, their teachers, mothers with children under five, pregnant women and some disabled people were moved...to smaller towns and villages in the countryside" (Evacuation: When did evacuation start in Britain?).

    September 1939: "Schoolchildren, their teachers, mothers with children under five, pregnant women and some disabled people were moved...to smaller towns and villages in the countryside" (Evacuation: When did evacuation start in Britain?).
    "'Not them. Didn't you hear what the pilot said? About the atom bomb? They're all dead'" (Golding 9).
    The situation (evacuation) of the boys in the novel was most likely based on the evacuation of the population (primarily children) in Britain, preceding Britain's entrance into the war.
  • Germany invades Poland.

    Germany invades Poland.
    "Germany invades Poland. Great Britain declares war on Germany. Soon, all of Europe is fighting" (Ganzel 1). "...there were other lights in the sky, that moved fast, winked, or went out, though not even a faint popping came down from the battle fought at ten miles' eight" (Golding 106). Throughout the novel, the reader can see connections to World War II, most likely to highlight the themes of civility vs. savagery and good vs. evil that are developed as the plot progresses.
  • May 1940: "The Germans opened the Auschwitz concentration camp, where at least 1.1 million people would be killed" (Rosenberg 1).

    May 1940: "The Germans opened the Auschwitz concentration camp, where at least 1.1 million people would be killed" (Rosenberg 1).
    This is one of the horrors that Golding likely heard of during his service in World War II. It possibly had an influence upon the writing of The Lord of the Flies, as Golding wanted to express the evil that can sprout from every man, the concentration camps being a harsh example of this.
  • June 22–December 5: Operation Barbarossa

    "Operation Barbarossa, an Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, took place. The plan was to conquer the western Soviet Union and repopulate it with Germans; and in the process, the German armies captured some five million troops and starved or otherwise killed 3.3 million prisoners of war. Despite the horrific bloodshed, the operation failed" (Rosenberg 1).
    This tragic event connects to the creation of the novel, as Golding wanted to highlight "man's capacity for evil".
  • "The Atlantic Charter was signed, setting out goals for England and the U.S. after the close of World War II. It was one of the basic documents underlying the modern United Nations" (Rosenberg 1).

    "The Atlantic Charter was signed, setting out goals for England and the U.S. after the close of World War II. It was one of the basic documents underlying the modern United Nations" (Rosenberg 1).
    "'-a conch'...'We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They'll come when they hear us-'" (Golding 12). The Atlantic Charter set the course for the creation of the United Nations, similar to how the discovery of the conch in Lord of the Flies set in motion the events that would lead to the forming of an organized group (by the boys).
  • Pearl Harbor Attack by Japanese

    Pearl Harbor Attack by Japanese
    "...there was a vicious snarling in the mouth of the shelter and the plunge and thump of living things...Ralph hit out; then he and what seemed like a dozen others were rolling over and over, hitting, biting, scratching" (Golding 192). This major event connects to the novel, in that the Japanese wanted to prevent American interference in their plans in Southeast Asia, similar to how Jack stole Piggy's glasses with the hope that Ralph's group would not retaliate.
  • "The first V-1 flying bomb attack was carried out on the city of London..." (Rosenberg 1).

    "Where's the man with the megaphone?...He must have flown off after he dropped us. He couldn't land here. Not in a place with wheels" (Golding 2). This event connects to the novel, in that the boys were being evacuated, and were shot down by an enemy aircraft. Golding likely made this connection to highlight the initial civility of the boys, who's evacuation from the war was done not only to ensure their safety, but also to preserve their innocence.
  • February 13–15: "British and American forces launched an aerial bombing attack on the city of Dresden, effectively destroying over 12,000 buildings in the city's old town and inner eastern suburbs" (Rosenberg 1).

    February 13–15: "British and American forces launched an aerial bombing attack on the city of Dresden, effectively destroying over 12,000 buildings in the city's old town and inner eastern suburbs" (Rosenberg 1).
    "The beast struggled forward...At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore" (Golding 175). This major event does a great job of explaining how evil and savagery can come from any person or group, regardless of their previous or current circumstances (as seen with the boys), or in this case, their side in a war.
  • August 6 and 8: "The United States detonates two nuclear weapons above the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first and (so far only) use of such a weapon against an enemy people" (Rosenberg 1).

    August 6 and 8: "The United States detonates two nuclear weapons above the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first and (so far only) use of such a weapon against an enemy people" (Rosenberg 1).
    "'Not them. Didn't you hear what the pilot said? About the atom bomb? They're all dead'" (Golding 9). This major event introduced to the world the destruction in which nuclear weapons are capable of, sparking the beginning of a fear of nuclear war that spread throughout the world. Golding likely referenced this event (or rather nuclear weapons/war in general), to highlight the fear of nuclear war that people around the world were experiencing during that time.
  • August 10–17: Korea is divided into North (occupied by the Soviet Union) and South (occupied by the United States).

    August 10–17: Korea is divided into North (occupied by the Soviet Union) and South (occupied by the United States).
    "'I'm not going to be a part of Ralph's lot...I'm going off by myself. He can catch his own pigs. Anyone who wants to hunt when I do can come too" (Golding 145). This major event connects to the novel, in that it represents the splitting of a group into two parts, and the splitting of the themes of good vs. evil and civility vs. savagery. One can see above how Jack left the group in Chapter 8, bringing his savagery with him.
  • "Germany signed the first legal German Institution of Surrender in Reims, although the final document was signed on May 9" (Rosenberg 1).

    "Germany signed the first legal German Institution of Surrender in Reims, although the final document was signed on May 9" (Rosenberg 1).
    "...the island was scorched up like dead wood-Simon was dead-and Jack had...Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy" (Golding 234 & 235). This major event deals with savagery, but more-so with its redemption than with one's descent into it. Similar to Germany's surrender, the boys ended their bout of savage acts, reflecting upon their actions and wondering if they can ever be forgiven.
  • "The United Nations was founded in San Francisco, California, by representatives of 50 countries" (Rosenberg 1).

    "The United Nations was founded in San Francisco, California, by representatives of 50 countries" (Rosenberg 1).
    "'Him with the shell'...'Let him be chief with the trumpet-thing'...'I'm chief then'" (Golding 20). This major event likely impacted the novel, as it represented unity among different groups, despite their differences. This can be seen in the beginning chapters of the novel, where the boys look beyond their differences, come together to achieve common goals, and communicate with one another by means of the conch.
  • "President Truman approves Hydrogen bomb construction" ("Major Events of the 1950s").

    "President Truman approves Hydrogen bomb construction" ("Major Events of the 1950s").
    "'Not them. Didn't you hear what the pilot said? About the atom bomb? They're all dead'" (Golding 9). This major event was likely one that contributed to the fear of a nuclear war during the time that Lord of the Flies was written. This can be seen (like a few other "nuclear-related" events) in the conversation between Piggy and Ralph in the beginning of the novel.
  • The Korean War starts

    The Korean War starts
    "The beast struggled forward...At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore" (Golding 175). This is a major event which, like many others, drew Golding to the conclusion that "all men have the capacity for evil".
  • October: "In South Africa, people were forced to carry green identification cards that included their race; and under the Separate Representation of Voters Act people who were classed as 'coloureds' were disenfranchised" ("A Brief Timeline of the 1950s").

    October: "In South Africa, people were forced to carry green identification cards that included their race; and under the Separate Representation of Voters Act people who were classed as 'coloureds' were disenfranchised" ("A Brief Timeline of the 1950s").
    "'Halt! Who goes there?' 'Roger.' 'Advance, friend.'...'The chief said we got to challenge everyone'" (Golding 183). Golding likely noticed this harsh act, using the "entrance rules" of Jack's tribe as a way to reference it (and share his opinions regarding it).
  • Transcontinental and Colour Tv introduced

    Transcontinental and Colour Tv introduced
    This advancement in communication can be seen in the initial emphasis on communication in the novel, with the conch being viewed as important, and meetings as interesting and worthwhile. However, this emphasis on communication crumbles over time, until eventually disappearing entirely.
  • Joseph Stalin dies

    Joseph Stalin dies
    "'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" (Golding 234). This event was a turning point in history, and while it is not explicitly referenced in the novel, it can be related to the end of the novel, and the end of "Jack's rule".
  • "... the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation was illegal in the Brown v. Board of Education decision" ("A Brief Timeline of the 1950s").

    "... the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation was illegal in the Brown v. Board of Education decision" ("A Brief Timeline of the 1950s").
    "'Him with the shell'...'Let him be chief with the trumpet-thing'...'I'm chief then'" (Golding 20). This decision was a major turning point in history, which Golding likely referenced through the emphasis on the importance of unity that appears throughout the novel.