What are the possible symbols that represent evil in the novel? (beside Pig's head and Pig-hunt)Please answer with evidence! Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout Golding's Lord of the Flies, there are natural forces that signify evil, especially as the boys' behavior degenerates.  This parallelism between the descent of the boys and the portentous forces of the island involve the creepers, the sea, and the pink granite that abounds throughout the island.


One sinister element of nature is the creepers, snake-like vines, that cover the island, impeding their progress everywhere.  Symbolic of their inescapable inherent evil, the boys constantly become entangled in these vines.


While the fire is a signal to civilization and the hope of rescue, it also presents ominous symbols of moving from civilization in the smoke of the fire that gets out of control and burns the island: 

Acres of black and yellow [a symbol of evil] rolled steadily toward the sea....The flames, as though they were a kind of wild life, crept as a jaguar creeps on its belly toward a line of birch...Beneath the capering boys a quarter of a mile square of forest was savage with smoke and flame. (Ch.2)


There is a recurring and ominous mention of rock.  As the boys explore, the pink granite of the island abounds,

a great platform of pink granite thrust up uncompromisingly through forest and terrance and sand and lagoon to make a raised jetty four feet high (Ch.1). 

As the boys first explore the island, they see many rocks that are like stacks and chimney. One particularly large one moves "with a grating sound when pushed."  The boys decide to push it off the summit.  They heave the rock, and it

loitered, poised on one toe, decided not to return, moved through the air, fell, struck, turned over, leapt droning though the air and smashed a deep hole in the canopy of the forest [that] further down shook as with the passage of an enraged monster.

This scene of the rock being hurled presages the evil deed of the boys as they send the rock crashing down upon Piggy in a later chapter.  This "token of preposterous time," in a smaller form, is thrown at Henry by the sadistic Roger in Chapter Four. 

Further in the narrative,

in the darkness of early morning there were noises by a rock a little way down the side of the mountain (Ch.6)

As the boys explore the part of the island that they have not yet seen in search for the beast, they encounter rocks piled, and others that form bridges. Climbing to the top on narrow ledges of rock, they discover "the bastion they had seen from the mountain-top:

The rock of the cliff was split and the top littered with great lumps that seemed to totter.

Looking down, Ralph views another portentous sight:  a swell of the ocean seems "like the breathing of some stupendous creature:

Slowly the water sank among the rocks, revealing pink tables of granite, strange growths of coral, polyp, and weed....There was one flat rock there, spread like a tale, and the water sucking down on the four weedy sides made them seem like cliffs.  Then the sleeping leviathan breathed out, the water rose, the weed streamed, and the water boiled over the table rock with a roar.  There was no sense of the passage of waves; only this minute-long fall and rise and fall.

And, again later in this chapter, mention is made of a "thunderous plume of spray leapt half-way up the cliff" that is like the spouting of a whale.  The natural forces of the rock and the sea are extremely threatening.  For, it is the rock that destroy the conch, the symbol of civilization, and Piggy's glasses, the symbol of reason, and, finally Piggy's head is dashed against them.  It is the sea that swallows the blood and the head of Piggy.  It is the "leviathian" of the swell that washes away Simon's body; the whale, the all-consuming evil takes the intuitive Simon.

Fire, rock, and entangling vines all are destructive and sinister forces in Golding's Lord of the Flies.  Along with these, enotes states,

Throughout the narrative, the noises of the surf, the crackling fire, the boulders running down hills, and trees exploding from the fire's heat are often compared to the boom of cannons and drum rolls. In this way, Golding reminds us that the entire story is intended to repeat and symbolize the atomic war that preceded it. 


kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Though it isn't one that people point to as often, there are a couple that are linked to the idea of "civilization" that are also evil in a more subtle way.  The first can be the plane that is shot down, as it shows that even away from the island where things are ostensibly civilized and under control, men are practicing evil and murder and all the things that are going on on the island.  The parachutist is another object tied to this idea and symbol of evil.

One last one tied to the same concept can be the officer from the ship, the sailor with the machine gun behind him, symbols of authority and power from the civilized world that expect a "better show" from the boys than what they see.  All of these can be linked to the idea that civilization is no better at governing the evil within men than the island is at governing it within boys.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The "hunt" for Piggy's glasses would be a good one.  The boys in Jack's camp knew that Piggy wouldn't just give them his glasses, so they play upon his fear.  After they leave the beach camp with Piggy's glasses (which they want to be able to make fire...a purely selfish and evil motive), they leave Piggy literally blind.  It is during this blindness that Piggy is truly able to "see" the evil that lurks in men's hearts...in Jack's heart and the other big boys who readily follow him for the adventure, not just out of safety and peer pressure as the younger ones do.

Of course, the fact that the boys push a huge boulder over on Piggy and smash him flat would be a sign of evil, wouldn't you think?  The only good thing that comes from this is that poor Piggy didn't "see" it coming.

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Lord of the Flies

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