“Lord of the Flies by William Golding and A Separate Peace by John Knowles are classic examples of peer pressure.” These novels are a perfect display of how adolescents falter under the influence of their equals. At the time the characters are surrounded by war and confusion in their lives. The choices they make are not determined by their consciences, but by the mental domination of their fair weather friends. They experience freedom from adults which is a factor in their behavior. The boys learn valuable lessons through their suffering, through death amongst each other, and through intellectual regression.
In A Separate Peace the boys are tested in a series of events. They are all pressured to go to war. At the tree Gene was tempted by Finny to jump from the branch. Although Gene knew that he could be injured, he did what he thought would please Finny. That night Finny and Gene formed the Suicide Society. When they returned to the tree one night Finny was going to jump when Gene shook the tree. His feelings overwhelmed him and it was comparable to a spontaneous act of will. Finny fell and was seriously wounded. He was disabled from playing sports anymore. He had previously broken school records effortlessly. The boys taunted Gene because they had blamed him for this accident. When Gene visited Finny, he pushed Gene on to be the best at sports like he once was. This was Finny living his dreams out through Gene. Gene was already competing with Chet Douglas to be the valedictorian. With all these goals Gene was loosing his own self-identity and was paranoid. Finally when Finny died, Gene is heartbroken. Leper was rejected by the boys and his only relationship was with Gene, who really did not care that much either. Leper is the first of the boys to go to war. Although the army shows the satisfaction you will find in battle, it does not tell of the hardships faced. Leper mentally changes and is eventually declared AWOL. By leaving he is trying to abandon his moral obstacles.
The Suicide Society shows how Finny had control over the boys psyche. While they were not foolish enough to follow his example of jumping, Gene did due to the pressure onset by Finny. The boys that did not jump were considered cowards. This generalization was made by Finny who had the only say in how the boys acted. If it were not this way, the boys may have had their own opinion on the rational conclusions they faced.
In Lord of the Flies the boys find themselves stranded without any adult supervision. They elect Ralph to be chief. As leader Ralph is faced with the duty of their survival and rescue. Piggy is teased about his proper ways and intelligence. When they light the signal fire and loose one of the younger boys Piggy hollers at them for their carelessness. Jack starts out as the leader of the choir boys but eventually becomes the chief of the savage hunters. He and Ralph compete for the attention of the boys and for the right to lead them.
The littl’uns are slightly faced with pressures because they do not know what is happening. All their lives they had been supported by their families and did not have to worry if they would live to see the next day. Now they are in the middle of nowhere, without their parents, and helpless. Their only hope is the executive ability of the mature boys. Ralph is chosen as their leader. He is given the responsibilities of organizing the survival crews, and keeping control of the immense number of those stranded on the island. He first sees their desertion as a fun adventure but with the troubles they face he soon realizes that it is a life-threatening predicament. After a while Ralph looses hope when the boys turn to Jack. Jack originally seemed like he would be of some help to their continuation, but he is obsessed with hunting and killing the wild-life. He can be compared to Darth Vader, once a talented youth, yet now a destructive overlord. He assigns the most burdens to the inhabitants of the island. Simon is seen as different from the other boys yet they do not tease him about his strange ways. When he returns to tell them of his discovery of the beastie, they murder him, which is far more harsh than any form of peer pressure. Although Roger was true evil he did not exhibit any demands onto the boys, but he is the cause of Piggy’s death.
Today there are peer pressures shown throughout these novels. Everyday teenagers are faced with decisions. The clothing industry practically tells teens, “Okay, this is what you have to wear and if you don’t then you’re just not cool!” The tobacco industry pushes minors to buy their cigarettes even though it is illegal for most of the consumers to even have a pack of Camels. Today’s television programs are 85% sex or relationship related acknowledging such affairs. The most current pressure though is the threat of war and with today’s technologies and weapon knowledge, the nations youth will be at the front lines. With these standards that teens have to live up to, they are destroying their physical appearance, state of health, and diminishing their self-esteem. Throughout history, in today’s times, and for all eternity society must realize that it does not matter what others want you to be, it is who you want to be.