Symbolism In Lord Of The Flies

1654 words - 7 pages

Symbolism in Lord of The Flies
William Golding's Lord of the Flies is a novel about a group of English school boys who are stranded on a tropical island after their plane has been attacked and crashes during World War II. In the beginning, the boys like being on their own without adults. The boys separate into two groups, led by Jack and Ralph. Jack is obsessed with hunting, and he and his group pay do not pay attention. Ralph is concerned about keeping a rescue fire lit so they will have a chance to be rescued, but no one else seems too concerned about it. At least one ship passes by without noticing the boys on the island. Things on the island deteriorate into chaos and savagery. Jack and his tribe are consumed with hunting and violence; Ralph and his few followers are unable to defend themselves against the savagery. Things begin to change when Jack starts painting his face to be a more successful hunter. Without the restraints of society (shame) of authority (in the form of adults), or his own conscience, Jack is free to pursue whatever evil he has in his heart--and he does. Several boys are murdered and Jack soon controls every boy on the island but Ralph. Jack and his savages light a fire to flush Ralph out of hiding so they could kill him. A naval commander rescues them just in time, because the savagery would escalate and none of the boys would have survived. As a child about the same age of the boys in Lord of The Flies, Golding read R.M. Ballantyne’s Coral Island. According to Reynolds, Ballantyne’s Coral Island is an adventure novel about shipwrecked boys that provided Golding with similar plot ideas that he used in Lord of the Flies. Golding’s use of the names Jack and Ralph are both from Ballantyne’s Coral Island (Reynolds). The boys in Lord of the Flies go from living in a society with rules to an uncivilized society. In Lord of the Flies the symbols of civilization and savagery, rational and irrational thinking, order and disorder, show how the boys have become uncivilized.
In Lord of the Flies the symbols of civilization and savagery show how the boys have become uncivilized. One of the most important symbols of civilization is fire. Fire symbolizes the boys’ connection to civilization. Ralph thinks that lighting a signal fire may alert a passing ship of their presence on the island. Ralph tells the boys, “The fire is the most important thing on the island. How can we ever be rescued except by luck, if we don’t keep the fire going?” (Golding 80). The boys have hope of being rescued as long as the signal fire burns. A symbol of the boys decent into savagery is when the fire burns low or goes out. The fire going out symbolizes the boys losing sight of their desire to be rescued and have accepted their savage lives on the island. Ralph is furious that the boys let the fire go out and says, “There was a ship. Out there. You said you’d keep the fire going and you let it out!” He took a step towards Jack who turned and faced him....

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