Masks in Lord of the Flies

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The Hunters’ Masks in Lord of the Flies

Though a mask may just be a shaped piece of plastic, a paper cut out or a painted face, they all have the same ability to create the feeling of freedom of responsibility. In William Golding’s, Lord of the Flies, the deserted boys go through many changes, both physically and mentally just by donning masks. When the boys first arrive on the island, they are unable to successfully find and kill food; they also try hard to keep things civilized. As the novel progresses, the boys begin to change. After finally wearing their masks, they are able to do the things they weren’t able to do before. Nearing the end of the novel, the boys are almost always wearing masks; they have morphed into something different entirely. The boys on the island are innately good, the masks that they don transforms them.

When the boys first crash on the island their main goal is to keep safe and civilized. The children know that in order to survive, they will need to eat. In order to have the proper food, they need to kill one of the pigs that inhabit the island. Even though the boys know what they need to do to survive, they are somehow unable to hunt and capture a pig. On the first night on the island, the boys venture off into the jungle and come across a pig, stuck in the undergrowth of the forest. This is the perfect moment for the boys to kill the pig and make a feast. Jack raises the hunting knife, but freezes, unable to kill the pig “… because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood.” (Golding, 31) This proves that the boys are incapable of committing the act of murder – even for their own survival – without something that could help push them to the moment of the kill.

In order to reach the moment of the killing of the pig, Jack and his hunters decide to paint their faces. Almost immediately, he begins to change his ways, as he gazes at his reflection in the water, “… no...
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