In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, what does the smashing of the sand castle represent?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Chapter 4 of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, the "littluns," meaning the younger boys, are described as entertaining themselves by building sand castles "in the sand at the bar of the little river." In Chapter 4, Henry, Percival, and Johnny are particularly building sand castles, Percival and Johnny being the two youngest boys on the island. During their play, two "biguns," Roger and Maurice, who had been assigned to tend to the signal fire on top of the mountain, burst out of the forest. Roger is described as leading Maurice into destroying the sand castles, "kicking them over, burying the flowers, scattering the chosen stones." Roger's destructive behavior helps characterize his animalistic nature and symbolizes the destruction of civilization, which is a dominant theme throughout the book.

Throughout the book, Roger demonstrates an obsession for dominating all living things, and his destruction of the sand castles as well as his abuse of the little boys is the first time we see just how dominating he truly is. Later, he is very easily influenced by Jack and becomes his devoted follower. He even offers to steal fire from Ralph. We see the true extent of his animalistic nature when he, "with a sense of delirious abandonment," releases the boulder on top of Castle Rock that murders Piggy and crushes the conch. Roger's murderous act and destruction of the conch clearly symbolize Roger's loss of humanity and the destruction of civilization since the conch symbolized order, democracy, and civilization. Hence, Roger's destruction of the sand castles and persecution of the littluns merely represent Roger's first steps to losing all sense of humanity and foreshadow his further destructive actions.

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