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Symbols and Symbolism in Lord of the Flies

Symbolism in Lord of the Flies

In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the boys who are stranded on the island come in contact with many unique elements that symbolize ideas or concepts. Through the use of symbols such as the beast, the pig’s head, and even Piggy’s specs, Golding demonstrates that humans, when liberated from society’s rules and taboos, allow their natural capacity for evil to dominate their existence.

One of the most important and most obvious symbols in Lord of the Flies is the object that gives the novel its name, the pig’s head. Golding’s description of the slaughtered animal’s head on a spear is very graphic and even frightening. The pig’s head is depicted as “dim-eyed, grinning faintly, blood blackening between the teeth,” and the “obscene thing” is covered with a “black blob of flies” that “tickled under his nostrils” (William Golding, Lord of the Flies, New York, Putnam Publishing Group, 1954, p. 137, 138). As a result of this detailed, striking image, the reader becomes aware of the great evil and darkness represented by the Lord of the Flies, and when Simon begins to converse with the seemingly inanimate, devil-like object, the source of that wickedness is revealed. Even though the conversation may be entirely a hallucination, Simon learns that the beast, which has long since frightened the other boys on the island, is not an external force. In fact, the head of the slain pig tells him, “Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill! Ö You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you?” (p. 143). That is to say, the evil, epitomized by the pig’s head, that is causing the boys’ island society to decline is that which is inherently present within man. At the end of this scene, the immense evil represented by this powerful symbol can once again be seen as Simon faints after looking into the wide mouth of the pig and seeing “blackness within, a blackness that spread” (p. 144).

Another of the most important symbols used to present the theme of the novel is the beast. In the imaginations of many of the boys, the beast is a tangible source of evil on the island. However, in reality, it represents the evil naturally present within everyone, which is causing life on the island to deteriorate. Simon begins to realize this even before his encounter with the Lord of the Flies, and during one argument over the existence of a beast, he attempts to share his insight with the others.

The Leadership of Jack and Ralph in Lord of the Flies

The Leadership of Jack and Ralph in Lord of the Flies

Throughout the novel Lord of the Flies, Ralph tries his best to create a society based on survival. As time progresses, it is clear that Jack’s feelings are towards living life and having fun. Jack’s society eventually leads to corruption, killing innocent people, while Ralph’s prevails as the boys are rescued. Ralph uses a repetition of hope towards being saved while Jack’s technique with no thought clearly flounders creating savages out of the once civilized boys.

Ralph’s original society is split because of lack of interest with some of the individuals. They begin to loose faith in themselves, and thus seek fun and fortune. In the end the group seeking a long-term reward beats out the group looking for short- term rewards, as Ralph’s group prevails, causing Jack’s to lose stimulating death among the other boys.

“When Ralph spoke again his voice was low, and seemed breathless.

`What have I done? I liked him-and I wanted us to be rescued’

Again the stars spilled about the sky. Eric shook his head, earnestly.

`Listen Ralph. Never mind what’s sense. That’s gone-‘

`Never mind about the Chief-‘

`-you got to go for your own good.’

`The Chief and Roger-‘

`-yes, Roger-‘

`They hate you, Ralph. They’re going to do you.’

`They’re going to hunt you to-morrow.'”(1)

Here, the reader is basically told on what the two groups have to offer. Ralph’s group is based on being rescued, while Jack’s group is pro-hunting and other games in the wilderness.

From the start, Ralph tries to keep the fire as the key-stone in the group. He knows that fire and smoke is used best to signal ships at a distance. This is what infact saves the stranded boys. In his group, Ralph makes shelters and calls assemblies. By using this method of bringing civilization to the island, the boys can thus remember what modern day society was like, and from then on can keep faith in themselves towards being rescued. Never once throughout the novel Lord of the flies, does Ralph become influenced or influence others towards savagery.

Although Ralph may seem like the ideal leader, he lacks in many characteristics; the main one being intelligence. Throughout the novel Ralph has to depend on Piggy for ideas.

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