How does Golding portray the loss of innocence through symbolism in Lord of the Flies? Give examples with quotes. 

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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One way in which Golding portrays the loss of innocence is through the symbolism of paint.  The boys' wearing of the paint signals their own loss of innocence, as they cease to be good English schoolboys and become wild savages. 

Jack originally creates the paint as a mask or camouflage for hunting, but when he tries it for the first time, he feels an almost delirious sense of abandonment:

"the mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness" (64). 

Wearing the paint transforms Jack into a wild savage, and as the other boys begin to wear the paint, they too share in his loss of innocence, feeling free to abandon their old morals and lifestyle.  Sam and Eric feel this keenly as Ralph suggests that they go and confront Jack at Castle Rock for stealing Piggy's glasses:

"'But they'll be painted! You know how it is'

The others nodded.  They understood only too well the liberation into savagery that the concealing paint brought" (172).

By the end of the novel, almost all of the boys have donned the paint of a savage, thus signalling their loss of innocence.  In the end, only Ralph remains unpainted, running for his life as the savages' fire consumes the island.  Golding uses the visual symbol of the paint to symbolize each boy's loss of innocence on the island.



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