What are some religious connotations in Golding's Lord of the Flies?     

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jseligmann's profile pic

jseligmann | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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As one of his first acts as elected leader, Ralph proclaims the need for a fire:

“There’s another thing. We can help them to find us. If a ship comes near the island they may not notice us. So we must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire...

...We’ve got to have special people for looking after the fire. Any day there may be a ship out there and if we have a signal going they’ll come and take us off."

The most obvious and pervasive reference to religion on the island is the fire. The fire, like religion, represents the hope of being rescued, of being saved. In many ways that is the primal and most basic belief of many religions: salvation. There is a great need among the thoughtful, non-savage boys in Lord of the Flies to build a fire, the smoke of which could be seen by an adult, would-be rescuer.

Certainly, fire was used, way back in ancient times, in the service of religion. Burnt offerings were made to the gods above who would look kindly on the puny humans and have compassion for them and save them. Even today, candles are lit in prayer or in  commemoration of miracles, and eternal flames are kept ever glowing in hopes of eternal salvation.

The boys were only doing what mankind has done for centuries: lighting fires in the fervent belief that a savior will take notice of the light or the smoke and come, at last, to save them.

Here's Ralph again, late in the novel, now desperate to keep the fire, and the comfort and hope it brings, alive:

“If Jack was chief he’d have all hunting and no fire. We’d be here till we died.”

coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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The religious connotations in the novel 'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding spring from the obvious and age-old themes of good and evil. This has been written about many times before in ancient texts and classical literature, but Golding gives it a refreshing new lease of life by placing a group of unsupervised children into the context. There are a few direct references to religion, and very many oblique ones. The group of choirboys trailing along is one image and Simon as a lightly drawn Christ-like figure is another. He 'sacrifices' himself in order to bring the good news about the real nature of the beast to the boys but cannot get his words out and is killed - like innocence destroyed. He is not their 'saviour' either as like mankind they do not listen to his message.

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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In the book "The Lord of the Flies" a group of school boys lands on a deserted island.  There are no adults to supervise them.  There are no social mores except the ones that the boys carry with them.  However, their civilized ways soon begin to deteriorate.  There are several areas in which religious connotations come to surface.  The first of the erruption is evil in the form of "the beastie."  The beastie is a mythical beast that the boys begin to believe is real.   It is only the carcas of a dead piolet and his parachute, but the fear of the evil controls the boys minds creating anxiety and fear. 

Another religious connotation is the change in the boy's behavior.  Ralph, Jack, and Simon represent different aspects of religion.  Ralph is the good man, and Jack is the evil one.  Jack sets himself up in a godlike fashion among the boys.  His group serves him as if he is a god.  Simon is the symbol of the spiritual side.  He is one who meditates.  He goes off alone to contemplate.  He also confronts the false idol of the Hog's head.  He is hallucinating at the time but he speaks with the head about the evil in man.  He is killed and his body wears a glow from the light reflecting off it on the beach as it washes away.

The false idol is the hog head.  Jack has it placed in a stick for all to see.  The kill and the evil that the head implies is the cruelty of mankind and man's evidence of the evil that resides within.

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