Tragedy Affects Behavior

May 23, 2017

Tragedy reminds people of all the negativity present in life. It serves as the events or misfortunes caused by both physical and mental evils. Tragedy causes or is the hardship that people face on a daily basis and eventually it may define who a person is. Depending on the severity of the event, tragedy could alter one's behavior and actions permanently. In the scientific fiction novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and other sources, the authors use behavior to explore the effects of tragedy.

In the article "Parents, Children, and Trauma: Parent Role Perceptions and Behaviors Related to the 9/11 Tragedy" by Mowder Michelle et al. and in the novel, it is shown that in reaction to a traumatic event, temporary actions, thoughts, and feelings are immediately present in one's behavior. When the tragedy of 9/11 occurred, people around the world reacted differently with short-term trauma. This immediate reaction caused short-term affects in actions and speech, especially those responsible for loved ones, like parents, specifically because "Following a tragedy such as 9/11, parents may alternatively be reflecting, in their parenting beliefs, their own needs following a traumatic event rather than a heightened awareness of their child's upset or discomfort" (Mowder et al. 741). The initial response to tragedy is short term and almost insignificant to the rest of one's life, as it serves as a temporary coping mechanism. This behavior is an imperative product from the first responses to a tragedy. As shown, this characteristic is also present in the novel when the boys first realize that they’re alone and trapped on the island. Their temporary behaviors include expressing doubt, shown when a boy states, "He must have flown off after he dropped us. He couldn't land here. Not in a plane with wheels... He'll be back all right" (Golding 8). The boys are in utter shock and disbelief that the remainder of their lives may be spent on this island. This behavior of doubt, exemplified verbally, shows the primary, short-term reactions to tragedy and how imperative it is for one to experience any abnormal behavior in order to truly accept the tragedy. The boys’ behavior quickly returns to normal after accepting their situation, an imperative part of the short terms effects of tragedy. Without the first reactions or changes in behavior following a traumatic event, one would not have the ability to cope with the situation.

In the novel and the article "The Dark Side of Zero Tolerance: Can Punishment Lead to Safe Schools?" written by Russ Skiba and Reece Peterson, the authors describe that as one learns to cope with trauma, drastic actions or habits become recurrent in one's behavior. Depending on the severity of the tragedy, victims may develop more long term behaviors or habits. In the case of school shootings, officials, teachers, parents, and students’ actions may be altered for a long period of time because of the event’s severity. Actions are altered or established due to tragedy, proven because the "String of school shootings has left all educators shaken and nervous about the potential for violence in their own schools. The fear that drugs and violence are spreading in our nation's schools provided the initial motivation for adopting zero tolerance disciplinary policies" (Skiba and Peterson 375). This movement is a perfect example of a long term change in behavior due to tragedy. Educators, in this case are worried for the future of their students and colleagues, allowing for abnormal characteristics for a longer but limited time frame. Another example occurs in the novel when Simon’s murder was resting in the minds of the boys, specifically Ralph. When justifying the situation, it is stated that, "'It was an accident,' said Piggy stubbornly, 'and that's that.' He touched Ralph's bare shoulder and Ralph shuddered at the human contact" (Golding 157). Ralph’s unusual reaction and reoccurring flinches suggest a behavioral change from Simon’s death. Because this dramatic event was both severe and meaningful to Ralph, it had a longer and more drastic impact on Ralph. A person's change in behavior in terms of actions and habits is a result of traumatic influences from dramatic actions.

Finally, in the novel and the article "Understanding Adolescent Suicide: A Psychosocial Interpretation of Developmental and Contextual Factors" by Pedro R. Portes, Daya S. Sandhu, and Robert Longwell-Grice, the influence of a traumatic event will leave a permanent impact, affecting one's personality and overall behavior. These permanent changes of tragedy can clearly be identified through adolescent suicide, when a multitude of unfortunate tragedies build until a personality is completely altered. Typically reasonings behind suicide "seem to cluster around disruption of scientific developmental tasks, vulnerability of the individual, and risk conditions in the immediate situation of the individual, such as a lack of emotional support" (Portes, Sanhu, and Longwell-Grice 806). With multiple negative factors, usually being tragedies within themselves, motivate the unfortunate end of one’s life. This upsetting climax marks the official change in personality because of the ability to commit the unthinkable. Although permanent changes in behavior don't always occur in this manner, they still may have as evident of a change in behavior. In the novel, the permanent ideas that Ralph carries with him as he leaves the island are stated. He allows himself to accept the tragedies that he had faced when "Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of a man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called piggy" (Golding 202). This loss as well as trauma caused be the other boys will stay with him forever, causing a new side or personality never before expressed to become evident in his everyday life. A traumatic event alters the permanent behavior or characteristics of a person.

A change in behavior is the product of tragedy and can be further explored to conclude tragedy’s effects. Tragedy’s negative effect on people inspires unity and change, to work together and improve one's community. The larger the negative impact, the more individuals and the more passion is used to inspire and initiate positive movements. Together people can fix issues caused by trauma with positive actions.

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