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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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The symbolism of the pig's head in Lord of the Flies

Summary:

The pig's head in Lord of the Flies symbolizes the inherent evil and savagery within humans. Known as the "Lord of the Flies," it represents the darkness in every individual's heart and the moral decay that occurs when societal structures collapse. It serves as a powerful reminder of the boys' descent into barbarism on the island.

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Why is the pig's head a symbol of evil in Lord of the Flies?

One could easily argue that it isn't very important, but it is the only place where the author uses something or someone to come out and say that the evil is something real but that it is within the boys rather than outside in some kind of animal or other being.  Once Simon has had his conversation with the head, the understanding, etc., that he has gained is destroyed as he comes out of the forest and is murdered by the boys.

It can also be linked back to the hunters and Jack, the boys that created the symbol by placing the pig's head on a stick.  This can serve as a symbol of the fact that they have allowed the evil to really flourish within themselves and gain some power.

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Analyze the pig's head on a stick as a symbol in Lord of the Flies.

The boys' descent into evil as they follow Jack is sealed when they sadistically and ritualistically slaughter a pig and eat it, enjoying both the pleasure of triumph over the helpless creature and the pleasure of eating the dripping meat.

Simon, the Christ figure in the novel who represents the superego or conscience, hallucinates as he looks at the dead pig's head, which has been mounted on a stick as if it is an idol to worship. It is surrounded by flies, bringing to mind Beelzebub, the devilish second-in-command to Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost. Milton conceived of the demons in hell in traditional terms as like a swarm of flies.

Simon has spiritual insight into the true meaning of the pig's head as a symbol of evil. This insight emerges in his conversation with it. It says to him,

Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!

This makes explicit that evil—the "Beast" the boys fear—is within their souls rather something external that can be hunted down and destroyed.

Second, looking at this symbol of evil helps Simon to understand how powerful its allure is. What he, Simon, represents, the head says is not wanted. The boys, led by evil impulses, desire what the head calls "fun": the opportunity to run wild and indulge all their normally forbidden, atavistic instincts towards violence, domination, and cruelty. The boys also wish to live irresponsibly in the moment.

Simon can see through to the core of what this "fun" really is—a rotting, dead head surrounded by flies, something disgusting—but the other boys see only the outer shell of what appears to be freeing and deeply enjoyable. The head says,

You’re not wanted. Understand? We are going to have fun on this island.

The head, the symbol of evil, lies, just as the devil does, because what the boys are having will not turn out to be fun, but a destructive fire that threatens to consume them.

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Analyze the pig's head on a stick as a symbol in Lord of the Flies.

The Lord of the Flies is the name of the severed pig's head that Jack places on a sharpened stick as a sacrifice to the beast. In chapter 8, Simon visits his secluded spot in the forest where he discovers the ominous severed pig's head in the middle of the clearing. Golding describes the Lord of the Flies as a menacing pig's head covered in black iridescent flies that seems to have an unsettling grin.

When Simon stares at the Lord of the Flies, he experiences auditory hallucinations as the severed pig's head begins to speak to him. The Lord of the Flies confirms Simon's belief that the beast is not a tangible creature which can be killed and warns him about interrupting the boys' "fun" on the island. The Lord of the Flies also informs Simon that there is nothing he can do to stop the savagery taking place. After listening to the Lord of the Flies, Simon loses consciousness.

Symbolically, the Lord of the Flies represents the presence of evil on the island and inside each boy. The severed pig's head on the stake also allegorically represents Satan. Beelzebub is another name for the devil, which translates to the Lord of the Flies. Given that Simon is a symbolic Christ figure in the story, his interaction with the Lord of the Flies alludes to Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness.

This scene is significant because the Lord of the Flies confirms Simon's knowledge of mankind's essential illness and foreshadows his death. Simon is the only boy who truly understands the identity of the beast, which is humanity's inherently evil nature.

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Analyze the pig's head on a stick as a symbol in Lord of the Flies.

"The Lord of the Flies" is another name for Beelzebub, the devil.  Thus, the pig's head with flies around it symbolizes Beelzebub, the force of evil. Although Simon, a Christ-like figure who falls victim to the evil of the boys, recognizes the Beast, or the devil, he forces himself with "mouth labored," to say that this Lord of the Flies is merely a "Pig's head on a stick."  But, Beelzebub acknowledges that Simon has intuitively has known all along where evil lies; namely, innately within the boys.

"You know perfectly well you'll only meet me down there--so don't try to escape!"

Certainly, at the beast's center lies man. The flies hover around the pig's head as they focus upon death by savagery, death by violence, and the destruction of what is beautiful and good as represented by the innocent Simon.  For, just as the pig's head drips blood, in Chapter 9, Simon's blood stains the sand.

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Analyze the pig's head on a stick as a symbol in Lord of the Flies.

In chapter eight of Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, Jack and his hunters sharpen a stick at both ends and place the dismembered, bloody head of a pig on it. Jack knows his hunters, like nearly all the boys on the island, have a fear of some nameless beast; he hopes to allay some of those fears by this act. He tells his hunters that they are leaving a sacrifice to appease the beast, though the reality is that the creature Simon sees as Lord of the Flies is really just a pig's head jammed onto a stick. Symbolically, the pig's head is much more than that.

Simon has a hiding place where he goes to be away from everyone, and he is there when the hunters erect the faux sacrifice right outside of his secret hideaway. We know that Simon has a tendency to faint, and through the course of his conversation with the Lord of the Flies we have indications that this dialogue is not real but conducted in Simon's head. At the end of the conversation Simon faints.

The Lord of the Flies tries to intimidate and threaten Simon; he calls Simon "just an ignorant, silly little boy" and mocks Simon for thinking the beast is "something you could hunt and kill!" Golding uses this symbolic beast, the Lord of the Flies, to reveal the truth to Simon: they, the boys, are the beast. The Lord of the Flies says,

“You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?”

Before Simon faints, the Lord of the Flies warns Simon that he is not wanted on this island (because Simon represents the soul and spirit of man) and predicts that "Jack and Roger and Maurice and Robert and Bill and Piggy and Ralph" will kill him. And they do.

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Do pigs symbolize anything in Lord of the Flies?

Pigs do come into play in the symbolism of Golding's novel Lord of the Flies; however, they are not a straightforward symbol in that they are used to represent a variety of different ideas. The sow and her nursing piglets represent the innocence of nature; hunting pigs represents the baser human desires; and the "pig's head on a stick" represents the depravity of the human heart. In chapter 8, Jack leads the boys on a pig hunt, and they find several pigs contentedly sleeping in the shadows. Among them is a sow nursing a row of piglets, "sunk deep in maternal bliss." The boys wound her and chase her, trailing her blood, until she comes out into "an open space where bright flowers grew and butterflies danced round each other." As the boys fall upon her, "this dreadful eruption from an unknown world made her frantic." She is brutally killed as the butterflies continue to dance. Golding's description of the blissful pig, tormented and killed by an invading species, speaks of the peaceful innocence of nature on the island apart from the corruption that man brings. 

The novel uses hunting extensively as a symbol of baser human instincts and desires. In the passage where the boys kill the sow, Golding describes how the boys were "wedded to her in lust," and after they kill her, they were "heavy and fulfilled upon her." The desire for hunting and meat causes the boys to leave the signal fire unattended just as a ship passes the island. Jack is able to lure the boys over to his tribe by the enticement of meat, even though most of the boys prefer Ralph as chief when they are thinking about rescue. 

When the boys have killed and gutted the sow, Jack mounts its head on a stick and leaves it as a gift for the beast. Simon, concealed in the thicket, ends up having a vision where he converses with the head. Golding calls the head the Lord of the Flies, and it identifies itself to Simon as the Beast. During the conversation Simon's previous understanding that the beast is "mankind's essential illness" is confirmed when the pig's head says, "You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?" In this way Golding presents his message that the downfall of the boys' society stems from the depravity in their hearts.

Pigs play a key role in the symbolism of Lord of the Flies and are used at various points to symbolize the innocence of nature, the baser human desires, and human depravity.

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In Lord of the Flies, what does the severed pig's head represent to Simon on page 169?

In chapter 8, Simon arrives at his hidden spot in the forest, where he finds the severed pig's head on a stick. Simon ends up hallucinating and has an enlightening yet terrifying conversation with the Lord of the Flies. The Lord of the Flies confirms Simon's thoughts regarding the beast by informing him that the beast is not something he can physically kill or challenge. Essentially, the Lord of the Flies tells Simon that the beast is the inherent wickedness each child on the island possesses and warns him about trying to escape. The Lord of the Flies symbolically represents the forces of evil, and its name directly translates to Beelzebub, which is synonymous with Satan. Overall, the Lord of the Flies is the physical manifestation of the beast and a symbol for the powerful forces of evil that corrupt mankind.

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In Lord of the Flies, what does the severed pig's head represent to Simon on page 169?

Simon comes across the pig's head in chapter 8. Previously Simon went to that clearing area and was amazed at the beauty of it all. That clearing was a place of peace and harmony to Simon, a place where things made sense to him and a way to escape the craziness that was beginning to take hold of some of the boys, like Jack.

When Simon returns to his quiet place in chapter 8, he sees the head of the sow on a stake. It represents a complete abomination to Simon. It is the complete destruction and desecration of the clearing. While Simon is staring at the pig's head, he begins hearing a voice: the voice of the Lord of the Flies. But to Simon it sounds as if it is coming from his own mind, which is a deep revelation to Simon. The beast that all of the boys fear is not an actual beast, but the potential for evil that lurks in the hearts and minds of each person. The boys need not fear any actual beast on the island, but need to fear each other.

The pig's head represents the realization that each of the boys can be their own worst enemy.

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