“Lord of the Flies”: from Killing the Sow to Injured Ralph

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Symbolism is a very powerful literary device that helps the reader better understand a novel. Certain colors can hold meaning, and this meaning can change throughout the novel. Lord of the Flies by William Golding tells the story of a group of boys from London who are stranded on a deserted island during WWII. The book displays Golding’s thoughts on how humans act when there are no societal rules. The novel uses symbols to show how quickly the boys on the island descend into violence, and how extreme that violence really is. This symbol leads to a deeper understanding of how when society is not watching, things can become horrific. 

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Golding uses the symbolism of the spear to demonstrate that in the absence of civilization, men’s unrestrained barbarity will reveal itself due to their primitive instincts. When Jack and the boys decide to go hunting in the forest, they hide behind the scattered trees waiting for the pigs to get closer to attack. “The drove of pigs started up; and at a range of only ten yards the wooden spears with fire-hardened points flew toward the chosen pig. One piglet, with a demented shriek, rushed into the sea trailing Roger’s spear behind it. The sow gave a gasping squeal and staggered up, with two spears sticking in her fat flank” (Golding 134). As the pigs get closer, the hunters come out behind the trees and throw their sharpened spears towards one pig just ten yards away; one piglet who is terrified cries out while the sow squeals as it got struck by two spears. The spear symbolises violence and savagery as it is a weapon to kill and hurt; the words ‘fire-hardened points’ describes the sharpness of the spear indicating the damage it can cause to another creature. The boy’s use of the spear causing the pigs to ‘shriek’ and ‘squeal’ reveals that without rules and order to suppress men’s darker side, their evilness will lead them to destructive actions.

Again, when Jack and Roger hunt for more pigs, they stab and wound the sow with their spear. “The spear moved forward inch by inch and the terrified squealing became a high pitched scream” (Golding 135). Jack and Roger throw their spear towards the sow who is frightened; when the spear hits the sow, its squealing changed to screams of pain. The evilness and violence that the spear represent are presented when Golding describes the pig’s “terrified squealing’ becoming ‘a high pitched scream”; by hunting with the spears, it is like using evilness to harm and kill. The pain that the spears caused on the pigs reflect on the evilness of the boys and how they are becoming unruly.

Towards the end of the novel where Jack and Ralph split up into two groups, Jack’s tribe purposely injured Ralph with a spear. “The bruised flesh was inches in diameter over his right ribs, with a swollen and bloody scar where the spear had hit him” (Golding 183). Ralph’s right ribs were swollen and bruised as the spear cut through his skin and left him a big bloody scar. The violence and savagery the spear symbolises grow from injuring another pig to now Ralph; the damage that the spear caused Ralph reveals that the boys have become more vicious as they live without civilization. The evil instincts within the boys are now coming through in the absence of rules and order.

Through Jack’s actions and the symbolism of the spear, William Golding proved that without civilization, man will resort to his primitive and oftentimes evil instincts. Through the novel, Golding uses Jack’s action and the symbolism of the spear multiple times to show the progression on how evilness can come out of men when removed from society. As there are no rules and order the boys have to follow, the boys slowly realised that they have plenty of freedom. Their evil instincts caused them to make violent decisions and caused them to end up killing one and another. The message of the book is to address the importance of rules and order as they help us be civilized and think logically. Without it, savagery can appear which lead to chaos and division. Lack of order and civilization will allow the savage beast inside all human to reveal itself and cause people to become vicious. 

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"Lord Of The Flies": From Killing The Sow To Injured Ralph. (2021, Jul 28). Retrieved March 24, 2023 , from

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