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True Human Nature - Symbols (in Lord of the Flies)

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True Human Nature - Symbols (in Lord of the Flies)

The central theme in the novel Lord of The Flies, by William Golding, is that all mankind is inherently savage and the only aspect suppressing man’s primitive behavior is the moral influences of civilization. It is society that holds everyone together, and when rules, values, and consensus of right and wrong are absent, a moral surrounding no longer influences one’s actions. Thus, values, reason, and the basic understanding of morality are lost, and the true essence of human nature is revealed. The regression from a civilized society to savagery is portrayed through Golding’s characters and symbolized by the downfall of the conch, the extinguishing of the fire, and the concealing use of face paint.

Through the symbol of the conch, the importance of stability, order, and civilization are established. When the boys first arrived on the island the conch was used to summon and unite the boys in order to form a civilization. The conch also serves as a regulator of democracy, “ We’ll have to have hands up, like at school… then I’ll give them the conch [to speak]” (Golding 31) said Ralph. This universal understanding that everyone would follow and respect the rules of the conch allowed every individual to speak his mind and to be a functioning member of society. However, as time progressed the mutual respect for authority and the power of the conch began to diminish. The assembly began to disrespect the conch’s possessor and the rules of their society began to falter. “As Piggy stood on the platform, the white conch gripped in his hands…” (141), the conch that was once vibrant in color and importance, was now faded and irrelevant. As the walls of civilized society crumbled, the boys gave into their animal desires and disregarded the only element of order apparent on the island. The symbol of order and civilization continued to lose its value as Jack mocked its importance. “The sound of the inexpertly blown conch interrupted them. As though he were serenading the rising sun, Jack went on blowing till the shelters were astir,” (125). This furthermore shows the lack of respect for rules and civilization. Finally, when “the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist,” (193) it symbolized the end of moral civilization and authority. All of the strict rules, values, and morals of their previous lives were lost along with the destruction of the conch; thus, giving birth to a society of total anarchy and immorality.

Another important symbol in Lord of The Flies is the symbol of the fire, which represented the boys’ will to be rescued from immorality and returned to the cultured world of civilization. In the beginning, maintaining the fire was the first priority amongst the boys. But, as time progressed the boy’s desire to return to civilization was replaced by the primal desire to seek, kill, and destroy, as seen when the boys chant, “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”(186). “ Don’t you understand? You painted fools? Sam, Eric, Piggy and me- we aren’t enough. We tried to keep the fire going, but we couldn’t and then you, playing hunting…” (197) remarked Ralph. What one can gather from this quote is that Ralph doesn’t realize that most of the boys have already accepted the fact that they will never get

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