Homework Help

What is the meaning of the title in Lord of the Flies?

user profile pic

pooh16- | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:00 PM via web

dislike 1 like

What is the meaning of the title in Lord of the Flies?

2 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:13 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 2 like

The title in Lord of the Flies actually refers to the boar’s head idol that Simon envisions, which is surrounded by flies.  It also metaphorically refers to the rot and decay of society represented by the break-down of the boys’ civilization.

The flies themselves are described in a very specific way, as a “black blob” that “buzzed like a saw” (p. 198).

Simon, the Christlike thinking child, becomes enchanted with the flies.

They tickled under his nostrils and played leapfrog on his thighs. They were black and iridescent green and without number; and in front of Simon, the Lord of the Flies hung on his stick and grinned. (ch 8, p. 198)

Since the boys spend so much time hunting or thinking they are hunting, the fact that the Lord of the Flies is the boar’s head is particularly symbolic.  The boys’ society has retrogressed completely to a more heathen state.


user profile pic

niazaykhisraw866 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 4, 2015 at 1:15 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

The Title “lord of the Fly’s”

Lord of the Flies refers to Beelzebub, another name for the devil. He is also called the Lord of Filth and Dung. Throughout the novel, the children grow dirtier and dirtier, an outward reflection of their inner state. As their savagery and evil increases, they seek a symbol, a god to worship. When Jack and his hunters kill a boar, they have their opportunity; they leave the pig's head impaled on a stake as an offering to the beast. The head is soon rotting and covered with flies. The head, referred to as the "Lord of the Flies" then serves as a symbol of the evil and savagery of Jack's tribe of hunters. At the end of the novel, Ralph, with disgust, knocks the boar's skull to the ground and seizes the stick to use as a spear. He understands the evil that surrounds him in the person of Jack, and he seeks to destroy it.

Let's get the easy part out of the way first: "the Lord of the Flies" is what Simon ends up calling the severed pig's head presumably because it's covered in flies. So, calling the book Lord of the Flies brings the boys' primitive violence front and center.

Now let's break it down. "Lord" is a word of power, and the desire for power drives the book's central conflict: who gets to decide what the boys will do? "Flies," on the other hand, connote death and decay. Put them together, and you've got death and decay tied up with power and corruption. Nice.

Lastly, as if that weren't enough, "The Lord of the Flies" is also the popular translation of Beelzebub, who's either a demon or the devil himself, depending on how you like your mythology. And that makes us ask: is evil external to us, like a talking, decaying pig head? Or does Simon call the head "Lord of the Flies" because he sees it as a manifestation of the boys' nature and possibly his own?

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes