What does darkness symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Golding utilizes darkness on the island as a metaphor for uncertainty, and through it, fear, as well as evil.  At night, the littluns become frightened and have nightmares; Phil describes waking up and seeing something "big and horrid moving in the trees" through the darkness of the jungle (85).  The fear of the unknown and the dreaded beast intensifies for the boys at night.  The darkness of the jungle can cover and hide the beast, so the boys fear night time and the dark canopies of the jungle, where unseen creatures or evil might lurk. 

Golding also uses darkness to represent evil in Lord of the Flies.  In Chapter Eight, aptly named "Gift for the Darkness," Simon encounters the true Beast, the Lord of the Flies who warns him, "Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill," revealing that the beast was really the evil within the boys themselves (143).  The bloated pig's head represents decay and corruption, and as the yawning mouth widens, "there was blackness within, a blackness that spread" (144).  Golding uses the metaphor of darkness to represent the growing evil on the island through the imagery of the Lord of the Flies.

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