What does the symbol of masks allow the boys to do in Lord of the Flies?I am writing an essay on "The Masks We Wear," and we are also reading Lord of The Flies in my literature class and we are...

What does the symbol of masks allow the boys to do in Lord of the Flies?

I am writing an essay on "The Masks We Wear," and we are also reading Lord of The Flies in my literature class and we are supposed to make the connection of the masks the boys wear on the island to the masks we wear in our everyday lives...(silly, I know) but please help!

Asked on by olivia55

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A symbol is when an object takes on a deeper meaning with a text. In this case, the masks symbolize barbarianism, a time before organized civilization.

It is true that we all wear masks.  A mask allows us to hide our identity.  It allows us to become anonymous and not responsible for our actions.  In Lord of the Flies, the boys’ civilization on the island is depicted as slowly dissolving into chaos.

When Jack first paints his face, he looks “no longer at himself but at an awesome stranger” (ch 4, p. 89).

Beside the pool his sinewy body held up a mask that drew their eyes and appalled them.  He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling.  (ch 4, p. 89)

With the mask, Jack is no longer Jack.  The mask becomes “a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness” (ch 4, p. 89).

The boys immediately make a connection between the masks and war.

“Come on! I’ll creep up and stab—”

The mask compelled them. (ch 4, p. 89)

When they wear the masks, the boys are no longer individuals.  They are members of a mob with a mob mentality.  They are stronger, better, and faster.  They are ferocious.

 

All pages from: http://gv.pl/pdf/lord_of_the_flies.pdf

Sources:

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