Lord of Flies

Topics: Human nature, World War II, Civilization Pages: 10 (3603 words) Published: May 17, 2013
Major themes
War and human nature
At the beginning of the novel, the boys are being evacuated from England by plane, presumably to keep them safe from the Cold War, which is in the future. The term "Reds" is mentioned (possibly giving the notion that the war was against the Soviets). However, there was quite a large amount of tension between the Soviet Union and the UK, or more particularly, Stalin and Churchill, during World War II, so "Reds" could simply show the British boys' scorn for the Soviets. The island becomes a microcosm of the self-destructive society that sent them away. Their failure to create stability and decency mimics the larger failure of the grownups to do the same, and there is real ambiguity as to whether or not the children's rescue by the naval cruiser at the end of the novel represents any real end to their danger.

Ralph and the conch

Ralph may represent democracy as he is leader by a democratic vote, and attempts to please the majority. He can also be interpreted as a representation of the ego, which governs the id and is associated with practicality.

The conch shell becomes a powerful symbol of civilization and order in the novel. Piggy tries desperately to protect it and when he dies, it is also destroyed. The shell effectively governs the boys’ meetings, for the boy who holds the shell holds the right to speak. As the island civilization erodes and the boys descend into savagery, the conch loses its power and influence among them. Its appearance, or its gradual loss of color from exposure to the air, may also parallel their descent. The other boys ignore Ralph and throw stones at him when he attempts to blow the conch in Jack’s camp. The boulder that Roger rolls onto Piggy also crushes the conch, signifying the end of the civilized instinct among almost all the boys on the island. When Piggy and the conch are destroyed, Jack jumps up and yells "...There is no tribe for you anymore. The conch is gone-I am chief!" This is the point at which Jack finally wrestles all control from Ralph, and without the powerful symbol of the conch to protect him, he must run from Jack's hunters who now have no inhibitions against killing him.


Piggy may represent rational thinking as he is logical, but unpopular; eventually Ralph realises how much he depended on him and his logic, admitting "I can't think. Not like Piggy." He is arguably the most rational boy in the group, and as such his glasses may represent intuition and intelligence (they can also represent science, as can Piggy). This symbolism is evident from the start of the novel, when the boys use the lenses from Piggy’s glasses to focus the sunlight and start a fire.

When Jack’s hunters raid Ralph’s camp and steal the glasses, the savages subsequently take the power to make fire, leaving Ralph’s group helpless. The physical state of the glasses may also represent the state of the social order on the island, for as their condition deteriorates, so does the order and organization of the boys. Piggy's fatness and asthma, which mark him as an outcast, can also be viewed as emblematic of how the superego, and, thus, civilized thinking, are ill-suited for this environment and are rejected as useless. The power of his glasses to make fire is also a reference to how the products of science can be useful, but the science itself isn't. Piggy might also represent Socrates, because, as in Plato's Apology, his high intelligence and plain speaking only create more problems for him, and lead to his eventual death.

Piggy's hair didn't grow as the others did throughout the story, and though it isn't said whether or not he cut it,but it is assumed he didn't. This represents that as the boys fell deeper into savagery they became more wild; long haired, dirty, temperamental, etc... While Piggy did not, the only thing that can challenge this is that he took part in the murder of Simon.

Piggy is the most feminine character in the story, and is...
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