Lord of the Flies


Symbols and Themes

The Island—The island represents a microcosm of the world. There is no way to escape it, and one appears on it seemingly by chance, just as one does in the world at large. Moreover, just as the world at large is engaged in total war (as is briefly alluded to), so also does the island become a battleground, with law and order pitted against savagery and anarchy. The boys themselves represent various stations or aspects of civilization: Ralph represents the leader; Piggy represents “science”; Jack represents repression, rebellion, and finally all that is evil; Simon represents spirituality with a hint of religion (although he professes none and only speaks of an unconquerable evil as though there were no supernatural remedy or answer to it). The boys must prepare the island for habitation, divide up the labor, establish some sort of structure, and feed themselves. They find that, as is often the case in the real world, there are more questions about the island and what it contains than there are answers. Whether or not there is an all-seeing Providence that allows evil to happen for the purpose of a greater good is a question that may arise from the experiences described on the island, though it is not directly addressed either by Golding or by the characters themselves. If Simon had lived, it may be speculated that he would have inquired into the subject.

Fire—Fire serves an important function on the island: Primarily it provides smoke, which acts as a signal to any passing ships that there is life on the island. The fire also allows the boys to cook their meat. While these practical functions are essential, the fire serves as a literary symbol that is essential to the overall theme of the novel, which may be described as the battle between order and anarchy, good and evil, society and barbarism. The fire represents the raging, all-consuming, self-destructive urge within the boys that can very easily grow out of control—just as the fire does the first time the boys start it on the mountain; it suddenly and...

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Essays About Lord of the Flies