Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies book cover
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The jungle is a symbol in the book "Lord of the Flies". What does it represent?

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jungpak eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A symbol in literature is an object, person, or idea that represents a larger concept. So, the jungle in Lord of the Flies not only serves as a setting, but is also a symbol that represents a bigger picture.

The novel is largely a story of duality:

Civilization versus raw natural impulse (Ralph vs. Jack)

Intuition versus material world (Simon vs. Piggy)

The boys are students who come from a world of discipline, order, and law. They are dropped into a jungle which is all about nature and survival. At first, civilization prevails; they make rules (talking through the conch) and rely on what they know to organize a survival plan. Ralph is in charge. Even Jack concedes the need to have rules. Eventually, though, they begin to lose their grasp on civilization and basic instincts take over; the boys slowly begin to realize that there are no rules and they can do what they want, when they want. The temptation to run wild and give in to wild instincts (when no one is around to tell them no) becomes too much, and the most of the boys turn savage; they even form their own rules about right and wrong. Even murderous impulses are not beyond exploration. Spoiler alert: In order to show the depths of the savagery to which the boys descend, someone must die.

So, the jungle represents humankind's most base nature; it represents the wild, untamed, savage side of humanity. It is important to remember that the novel was published in 1954, not even ten years after the end of WWII. Golding is exploring the savage nature of human beings and the depth of the cruelty with which we treat each other.

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Tim Mbiti eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The jungle is on the island where the plane made a crash landing. It is pristine land, a paradise of sorts untouched by man's activities.

The jungle symbolized nature’s balance and control without man’s interference. It showed that all or most of the problems that occur in nature are as a result of man's activities. This position is further supported by the scar in the jungle caused by the crashing of the plane which showed the destructive nature of man. The jungle symbolized perfection until man corrupted it. The jungle also symbolized something new, a place where the kids can start afresh with an empty slate. 

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the beginning of the novel, the jungle is a symbol for nature. At one end of the island, where the plane carrying the boys most likely crashed, there is a "long scar smashed into the jungle". Symbolically, this scar represents the destruction that man inflicts on nature. However, unlike many books, nature is not seen in a positive way, Golding also uses the jungle as symbol for death, decay, and darkness. In fact, since the jungle is the home of the beast, it, too, symbolizes the darkness naturally present within humans that is capable of ruling their lives. This evil eventually spreads to almost every boy on the island, just as in the jungle, "darkness poured out, submerging the ways between the trees till they were dim and strange as the bottom of the sea."

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