Lord of the Flies Questions and Answers
by William Golding

Lord of the Flies book cover
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Lord of the Flies has been called "a fable in which the characters are symbols for abstract ideas." What does that mean?

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amioliver1 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Most good literature uses characters and plots to represent ideas which ultimately reveal a deeper meaning than what can be read on the surface. A fable can be characterized by its resulting in teaching a moral lesson to readers.

In Lord of the Flies, Golding makes a commentary on power. Ralph is representative of democracy, while Jack represents dictatorship, and their struggle results in the deaths of many of the boys. Golding ultimately comments on the violent impulses of humans, especially within the context of the war that caused the boys to be stranded on the island.

As the conflict between the two boys escalates and implodes, the peace and order Ralph has tried to maintain are destroyed by the boys' desire to follow Jack's powerful, violent, and destructive leadership. They follow his lead and try to execute Ralph, as he poses a threat to Jack's power and control. Although most of them are saved in the end, the boys will likely remain disturbed by their experiences on the island and, most especially, by themselves, as they have been granted insight into the darkness they are capable of.

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amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Hummm.  Interesting quote.  I can see this, though.  A fable is a story that typically teaches a moral or lesson.  An allegory is a story in which the characters stand for themselves and something beyond themselves.  LOF can be both, since the story is that of the evil or dark side of humanity.  Each of the characters or groups of characters stand for themselves and an aspect of humanity.  Ralph is the voice of reason. Simon is innocence.  Piggy is knowledge.  Jack is violence.  The other boys are collectively survival, since they waffle back and forth between Jack and Ralph depending on who has the most clout.  The longer the boys stay on the island, they first lose innocence (Simon is murdered) then they forsake knowledge (Piggy is murdered) and finally they stop listening to reason (Ralph).  Reason would've been murdered if it hadn't been for the sudden rescue of Ralph on the beach by the Navy officers.

So, the lesson or moral here is beware, Mankind!  How quickly does civilization disappear without innocence, knowledge and reason.

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