What is the symbolic significance of the mountain?Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The top of the mountain is the highest point on the island and becomes the apex of the boys' attempt to create a civil society. The mountain is significant throughout the novel and is the location where the boys initially create their signal fire. However, the top of the mountain is also where the dead paratrooper lands and where the boys believe the beast resides. Essentially, both the hope of rescue and fear of the beast are associated with the top of the mountain.
The dual nature of the mountain and the fact that the boys feel opposite emotions towards it throughout the novel impacts its symbolic meaning. Overall, the mountain symbolically represents truth, life, and the concept of reality. On the uninhabited island, which represents paradise, the top of the mountain is closest to God. The signal fire that the boys create on the mountain represents civility, life, and knowledge. These positive traits lend themselves to the symbolic meaning of truth, which is associated with the mountain itself. However, the boys also believe that the beast inhabits the top of the mountain, which also correlates with the symbolic meaning of reality associated with the mountain. Essentially, the mountain is a location where truth and life coalesce with the concept of reality, which directly impacts how the boys view the mountain.
The mountain allows the boys to maintain some semblance of contact with the outside world, a world they've inadvertently left behind. The top of the mountain provides the boys with a perspective on their new world and their previous one. Symbolically, the mountain represents the two elements of the human soul—the imminent and the transcendent.
The mountain, like all human beings, is a part of the natural world, but at the same time rises above it. During their sojourn on the island, the boys must make a choice as to which side of themselves they will express. Those such as Ralph aspire towards the transcendent, attempting to establish a rule-based order that keeps the boys in a civilized state, one that belies their primitive surroundings. Other boys, however, such as Jack and Roger, opt to remain in an state of pure imminence, revelling in a brutal, unforgiving environment that gives them the freedom to resort to pure savagery in their atavistic desire for domination and control.
Symbolically, Ralph and Piggy stand upon the mountain peak, whereas the likes of Jack and Roger remain permanently camped at the foothills.
In Lord of the Flies, the mountain, obviously the highest point on the island, is, therefore, symbolic of the pinnacle of life. The boys place their fire atop it, but this fire goes out and is stolen by Jack and the other hunters. Simon and Ralph and Jack and Roger climb up, fighting the snake-like creepers in order to discover exactly what it is that looms in the air over this mountain, but Simon is killed when he brings his message that the beast is within them all. Releasing a huge pink granite "death rock," the stone--"that token of preposterous time"--from near the top the mountain, Roger sends Piggy reeling to his death.
Thus, the mountain can be seen as the pinnacle of life and civilization, a pinnacle that the boys are prevented from reaching by the nature of the flaws that are inherent in their characters, flaws from which there is no escape.
The interpretation of the mountain's significance in "Lord of the Flies" is much simpler than the other symbolic representations in the book. The Mountain represents hope and truth. Hope in that they boys believe that by building a signal fire on top of the mountain, they will be rescued. Truth in that, like moses climbing the mountain to receive the truth of the ten commandments, Simon climbs the mountain to gain truth of the Beast. The mountain symbolizes truth also because in truth is knowledge. By utilizing their vantage point atop the mountain, the boys can see the "truth" of their environment and their situation.