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Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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What abstract ideas do Roger, Ralph, Piggy, and Simon represent in Lord of the Flies?

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In the end, the boys' individual personalities and desires are too strong to keep the group together. They fight in the form of a hunt for both people and pigs. Conclusions: I think that Golding had a good idea of what would happen if a group of children were stranded on an island with no adults. I think his book is extremely well written, but it is very sad in many parts. I think that this book should be required reading for high school students because it would help them realize how cruel people can be to each other, especially when they are trying to survive alone.

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If considered as a psychological and religious allegory, Golding's novel Lord of the Flies has characters who represent various qualities found in human beings.

  • Ralph   is the charismatic leader, the physical presence needed to attract followers.  He represents common sense, but at the same time, he also represents the ingenuous type...

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  • of leader who is unprepared for those who are devious and evil
  • Piggy is the pure intellectual who assesses problems empirically. For instance, when Ralph asks him if there can be a beast, Piggy replies that if there were, there would be no civilizations

 “Life […] is scientific, that’s what it is. In a year or two when the world is over they’ll be traveling to Mars and back. I know there isn't no beast – not with claws and all that I mean

  • Jack represents the innate evil and savagery within humans.  He rules by intimidation and power.  His even darker side is represented by Roger, whose arm is only restrained by the taboos of his society when he first wants to throw stones at little Henry on the seashore.

Roger's arm was conditioned by a civilization that knewnothing of him and was in ruins.

  • Jack and especially Roger represent the anarchy that results once society breaks down.
  • Simon is the mystic.  Intuitively, he understands before all the others that the beast lies within the hearts of man. Because he senses rather than rationalizes knowledge, it is impossible for him to articulate his realization that the evil on the island is intrinsic to the boys and not a tangible "beast."
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Lord of the Flies has been called "a fable in which the characters are symbols for abstract ideas." What does that mean?

Most good literature uses characters and plots to represent ideas which ultimately reveal a deeper meaning than what can be read on the surface. A fable can be characterized by its resulting in teaching a moral lesson to readers.

In Lord of the Flies, Golding makes a commentary on power. Ralph is representative of democracy, while Jack represents dictatorship, and their struggle results in the deaths of many of the boys. Golding ultimately comments on the violent impulses of humans, especially within the context of the war that caused the boys to be stranded on the island.

As the conflict between the two boys escalates and implodes, the peace and order Ralph has tried to maintain are destroyed by the boys' desire to follow Jack's powerful, violent, and destructive leadership. They follow his lead and try to execute Ralph, as he poses a threat to Jack's power and control. Although most of them are saved in the end, the boys will likely remain disturbed by their experiences on the island and, most especially, by themselves, as they have been granted insight into the darkness they are capable of.

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Lord of the Flies has been called "a fable in which the characters are symbols for abstract ideas." What does that mean?

Hummm.  Interesting quote.  I can see this, though.  A fable is a story that typically teaches a moral or lesson.  An allegory is a story in which the characters stand for themselves and something beyond themselves.  LOF can be both, since the story is that of the evil or dark side of humanity.  Each of the characters or groups of characters stand for themselves and an aspect of humanity.  Ralph is the voice of reason. Simon is innocence.  Piggy is knowledge.  Jack is violence.  The other boys are collectively survival, since they waffle back and forth between Jack and Ralph depending on who has the most clout.  The longer the boys stay on the island, they first lose innocence (Simon is murdered) then they forsake knowledge (Piggy is murdered) and finally they stop listening to reason (Ralph).  Reason would've been murdered if it hadn't been for the sudden rescue of Ralph on the beach by the Navy officers.

So, the lesson or moral here is beware, Mankind!  How quickly does civilization disappear without innocence, knowledge and reason.

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