Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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How does the personification of darkness symbolize what is happening to the boys?

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The sense of this symbolic darkness is perhaps most striking in Chapter 8, which is actually entitled 'Gift for the darkness'. In some ways this is the central part of the novel. This is where some of the boys - Jack and his party of hunters -  truly begin their descent into savagery and anarchy, when they do not simply kill the sow but torture her and then set her head up on a stick. This is their symbolic gift to the beast and the forces of darkness, but none of them except Simon realise that the darkness is within themselves - the darkness of pure instinct and animal passions, which lead to unrestrained violence. They still imagine the darkness to be some external force, the vague but terrifying figure of the beast. The beast becomes their symbolic deity to which they offer up the sow's head. Simon,alone, contemplates the sow's head and imagines a conversation with it in which he realises the truth - that the beast, the darkness, exists within human nature itself. The shock of this brings on a seizure as he imagines himself being swallowed by this darkness.

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