Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Which symbols are best used to enrich the themes of Lord of the Flies? Explain.

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The Conch Shell: The conch shell symbolizes civility and democracy throughout the novel. Ralph initially blows the conch to call the boys together and is elected chief, partly because he is holding the conch. During assemblies, the person holding the conch gets to speak. Whenever the boys begin talking over each other or become sidetracked during the meetings, the conch is lifted, and the boys become silent. Towards the end of the novel, Piggy is killed, and the conch is broken. When the conch breaks, it symbolizes that all hope for order and humanity on the island is lost.

The Lord of the Flies: The rotting pig's head symbolizes the manifestation of evil on the island. The Lord of the Flies is the literal translation of Beelzebub, which is another name for the devil. The Lord of the Flies speaks to Simon and tells him that the evil on the island is actually "inside" each one of the boys. Golding suggests that humans are inherently evil, and the Lord of the Flies reflects this belief. Simon's meeting with the Lord of the Flies has been said to symbolize Jesus' temptation in the wilderness.

Signal Fire: The signal fire symbolizes hope and rescue. Ralph's commitment to maintaining the signal fire reflects his desire to return to civilization. Jack's decision to dismiss the signal fire reflects his desire to live as a savage.

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