what are some symbols in lord of the flies and how do they relate to the plot and characters?

Expert Answers
fezziwig eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, the "conch" is a major symbol in  Lord of the Flies that develops the plot and the characters.

Some other symbols that develop the plot and the characters are the island, the scar on the island, the fire, the beastie, the dead parachutist, the Lord of the Flies, which is the pig's head that is impaled on a pike by Jack, and the naval officer at the end of the novel.

The island symbolizes freedom or free-will; this is revealed in the division between Ralph and Jack. Ralph chooses good and order, but Jack chooses evil and chaos.

The "scar" on the island symbolizes the destructive nature or evil in man, for if you remember, it is created by the plane that is shot down during the war that is occurring at this time in the novel. This plane crash sets the whole plot into motion

The "fire" symbolizes many things. At the beginning of the plot it represents hope and order as the boys use it as a signal fire in hopes of being rescued, but it becomes a symbol of hell when they lose control of it, and it kills the boy with the mulberry birthmark on his face, and later when Jack and his tribe of hunters set the island on fire in hopes of flushing Ralph out so that they can murder him, but ironically, the fire rescues Ralph. Because of the enormity of the fire, a naval vessel sees it and comes to investigate it.

The "beastie," the imaginary beast that the littuns create, symbolizes the fear within human nature, the fear of the unknown. This fear changes many of the characters in the novel.

The "dead parachutist" or soldier not only symbolizes the beastie to the boys, but it symbolizes the adult world, uncivilized society that prides itself in the evil destructive of war. When the boys see him, they do not recognize him as a man, but instead as a beastie; this reaction by the boys reveals how disassociated they are becoming with reality and the world from whence they came.

The Pig's head on the stake or the Lord of the Flies symbolizes the devil, for flies represent dead and decay, and the Lord over that is Satan, or Beelzebub. This is the center of Golding's novel, for once Jack impales the head on the stake and Simon encounters it, the plot and characters take a turn for the worst. If you remember, Simon is murdered shortly after seeing the Lord of the Flies, (the pig's head on the stake covered in flies), as he comes crawling out of jungle at night and the boys mistake him for "the beast."

The naval officer dressed in white at the end of the novel not only symbolizes adults, but the good in humanity, for it is he who rescues Ralph from being murdered by Jack and his wild tribe of hunters.



aishaali12 | Student

The conch becomes a powerful valuable part for the boys. It represents unity and brings them all together. It is legitimacy and democratic power. Once savagery descends, the conch shatters completely.

When Jack snatches the glasses of Piggy, Piggy loses his power and sight which leads to a disadvantage. Their savage side compels them to start a fire, making Ralphs group helpless.

Any suggestions please?

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Lord of the Flies

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