Why Is The Killing Of The Sow Discussed In Such Detail

Why do you think the killing of the sow was described in such graphic detail? What does it depict.

Chapter 8. Clear and understandable answer needed.

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The author is trying to prove a point. Jack represents the savagery that is within man. He has lost his civilized conditioning. He can stab and tear at the pig as if it does not bother him. He pulls out the "colored guts" as if he had removed them forever:

They corner the wounded pig, and when she falls they are on her. Roger is particularly cruel, driving in his spear slowly by leaning his weight upon it until the sow screams in agony. Then Jack cuts its throat.

When Jack sticks the pig's head on a stick, he has not a squeamish moment. He has truly become a savage. He cuts the pig's throat and the blood gushes down his hands. He acts as if he is not the least bit in anguish over killing another live creature, and one that was nursing her babies.

Golding is relating the fact that there is savagery in mankind, and if the conditions are just right, it will show its ugly head. The author is making it clear that even the most civilized and disciplined boy can turn into a savage. This is not a game to Jack. He has begun to live for the kill. He is driven by a lust to kill. He has become passionate about the kill. The kill has taken him over. Jack was born to hunt and kill. He just never knew it until he became stranded on the island. He has found his true nature on the island. The beast is within Jack:

The beast has finally made its appearance, and it is represented by the pig’s head. It is the Lord of the Flies, in common terms, Beelzebub, or anarchy. The violent rift within the two factions is aptly represented by the pig’s head, a grotesque monument to the boys’ increasing savagery.

Ralph is worried that they will die on the island. He fears that he will forget why the fire is so important.

The power of Ralph’s faction, all of whom are tempted by meat, is weakening. Ralph himself cannot understand why they must keep the fire going or communicate that knowledge.




M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You have to keep in mind that Lord of the Flies is a rendition of how human nature, and what Freud would deem as the "basic Id", can overpower our monitored sense of civilization. Not only this, but it also shows that our basic Id is also our true sense of humanity: In the end, deprived of all essence of a civilized world, we turn back into animals. We all have the capacity of barbaric and bestial behavior if civilization is removed from our daily lives. Hence, whenever we say "I would never..." we are actually lying to ourselves. These kids were choir boys from the most selected British families. They were well-raised and quite civilized children. If a child, who is unbiased and pure, can turn into a beastly creature once civilization is removed, imagine what would happen to typical adults.

Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the killing of the sow is described with such graphic detail because it is the point of no return for the boys:  they will now resort to savagery and rebellion no matter what the situation.  All humanity, ... all civilization is lost.  They are no longer innocent and are giving in to the "lust" of the kill.

The worst of it, in my opinion is excecuted by Roger (not Jack) who drove "his spear slowly by leaning his weight upon it until the sow screams in agony."  It makes me think of that scene in Saving Private Ryan (that I still can't watch) where one American Soldier slowly plunges the knife into a cowering Nazi, speaking to him as if he were some sort of enemy lover.  The ultimate in savagery!

hilahmarca eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The killing of the sow, or female pig, is brutal, loud, bloody, inhumane (cruel), evil, and aggressive. It has the feeling of a "gang rape". You can see evidence of this rape with quotes from the killing like, "and the hunters followed, wedded to her in lust, excited by the long chase and the dropped blood.", "the sow fell and the hunters hurled themselves on her.", and "Jack was on top of the sow, stabbing downward with his knife. Roger found a lodgment for his point and began to push till he was leaning with his whole weight." Golding is reminding us that they are no longer boys. Their innocence is gone and they have given in to their savage ways.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with the posts above and I would simply add that I think Golding is trying to emphasize just how much the boys have become savages.  If he had simply said that they killed the sow (and not gone into detail) we could think that the boys had killed it quickly and humanely.  Instead, we are really forced to confront how brutally they have killed it.  This completely emphasizes the degree to which they have departed from civilized ways.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with all of the above posts and with #2 in particular. This allegorical novel depicts the depravity of human nature as these boys live without the rules and restrictions of society. Their savagery covers a wide spectrum of "sins" or crimes, and this incident, written clearly in the language of a rape, is among the worst of them until they actually murder one of their own.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The killing of the sow is described in such brutal detail because, as other editors have noted, it marks the beginning of the descent of the boys from innocent children to bloodthirsty savages who delight in violence and killing. It also foreshadows the way in which Piggy will be killed by the mob, hungry for his blood.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Keeping in mind that many murderers begin their careers by first killing animals, the killing of the sow indicates the bestial pleasure of violence and killing, the initial step to the similar bludgeoning of Simon who appears as also "the pig" to boys engulfed in the visceral and savage orgy of violent urges.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The killing of the sow is a pivotal point in the story, because the boys are transforming from normal boys into savages.  They are becoming more and more violent.  It's also an example of mob mentality at work, and this becomes key later.  Most importantly, it foreshadows the violent death of a human later.

valie77 | Student

i agree with everyone else !!!

he says that to show how much they have changed by being on the island.

i also find that by being ontheir own for so long only the boys they can only find fun what would have disscusted them before !!!

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Lord of the Flies

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