In Lord of the Flies, William Golding seeks to prove that humanity is innately evil. By using the most innocent creatures, children, he illustrates that even the most inexperienced and untouched will choose evil over good.
Throughout the text, there are various symbols Golding uses to help develop this thesis. A central symbol is the pig's head, or Lord of the Flies. The pig's head becomes a symbol of the tenuous and disintegrating ties to civilization when Jack and his hunters decide to mount the head on a stick. This initial act is one of reverence for their brutality. Jack instructs the boys to "sharpen a stick at both ends" in order to leave the head "for the beast. It's a gift" (197). This sacrifice for the "beastie" they believe is on the island signifies their propensity for savagery away from the binds, rules, and laws of civilization. The boys no longer have ties to the civil but worship the animalistic side of nature.
The pig's head may also symbolize false assumptions because it represents the innate evil within the boys. The hunters' desire to kill clouds their judgment and blinds them to the possibility of returning to civilization. They become so focused on the hunt, torture, and killing of the pig, they fail to stop and think about the consequences of killing the sow. By doing so, they destroy their food source. This propensity toward evil is also demonstrated when Simon encounters the pig's head in the clearing. Simon is a symbol of goodness, and is a foil to the evil the pig's head symbolizes. Though imagined, the pig's head conveys to Simon, "There isn't anyone to help you. Only me. And I'm the Beast" (206). He then warns Simon
“I’m warning you. I’m going to get angry. D’you see? You’re not wanted. Understand? We are going to have fun on this island. Understand? We are going to have fun on this island! So don’t try it on, my poor misguided boy, or else—”
Simon found he was looking into a vast mouth. There was blackness within, a blackness that spread.
“—Or else,” said the Lord of the Flies, “we shall do you? See? Jack and Roger and Maurice and Robert and Bill and Piggy and Ralph. Do you. See?” (207).
This dialogue reveals that the assumption that the children are innocent simply because they are children is false. Because of the dynamic between the boys and the pig's head, one begins to question all of the assumptions about the boys' characters and intentions.
Lastly, the killing of the sow, the sacrifice of the head, and the subsequent worshipping of the head on a stick illustrate how the boys are no longer innocents. The killing of the initial pig was shrouded in the guise of survival, but the killing of the sow was about power. This is evident by the brutality in which the pig is killed. Roger pushes on the pig with a spear until it shrieks and cries, while Jack slits its throat and allows the blood to run all over his hands. The boys then use this pig as a lure for the others to "join Jack's tribe." At the subsequent pig roast, the boys dance and chant in a storm on the beach. It is during this scene the boys murder Simon as he comes to report the death of the pilot. By removing the symbol of good on the island, the boys are now able to succumb to the lure of evil.