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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

Start Free Trial

What does Roger symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Roger's an interesting character, whom Golding uses to represent (in a rather unequivocal way) the 'darkness of man's heart' which the novel is so interested in.

When first introduced, he's marked out as a "dark" figure from the word go:

There was a slight, furtive boy whom no one knew, who kept to himself with an inner intensity of avoidance and secrecy. He muttered that his name was Roger and was silent again.

What 'secret' does Roger hold? That inside, he's got a sadistic desire to cause pain to the other boys. The next key moment comes when Roger is throwing stones at the littlun Henry, hiding behind a tree:

Yet there was a space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law. Roger’s arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins.

Roger, at the start of the novel, is still conditioned by the rules and civilisation of the outside world. But as the novel goes on, his sadism - his enjoyment of causing pain - becomes more and more clear. This is from the murder of the sow:

Roger ran round the heap, prodding with his spear whenever pigflesh appeared. 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. The spear moved forward inch by inch and the terrified squealing became a highpitched scream.

Roger's spear, we later find out, has gone 'right up her ass'. It's a brutal act: and it's echoed later in his murder of Piggy (when he leans on the lever and tips the rock with 'delirious abandonment') and his eventual role as Jack's chief torturer (Samneric describe him as a 'terror').

What's the important of Roger? He is a manifestation of the 'blackness within'. He enjoys causing pain, he is cruel, he tortures the other boys, he is sadistic. He is exactly the sort of person who civilisation needs to exist in order to restrain.

Hope that helps!

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Lord of the Flies is Roger the embodiment of evil? What does Roger represent?

Roger is evil. In the beginning, he does little things that show he has a dark side:  

Acting on his darker impulses, at first in small ways, he knocks over Percival and Johnny's sand castles. Then he throws stones at Henry, only missing because his arm "was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins."

As the novel continues, Roger progressively grows more evil. When Jack and the hunters trap a pig, Roger tortures the sow. He purposely puts his spear in the anus of the sow and twists until the sow is screaming in agony:

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. 

Roger shows no mercy. He and the boys laugh at the screaming pig. They become hysterical after seeing where Roger had twisted his spear while inside the anus of the pig. 

Later, Roger pushes a boulder at Piggy and causes Piggy to fall to his death. He shows no remorse: 

Numb to the sufferings of others, he releases the rock that knocks Piggy to his death and tortures the twins into submission. 

By the end of the story, Roger is planning to kill Ralph. He and Jack are chasing Ralph through the jungle. Roger sharpend a weapon with which to kill Ralph:

He prepares a stick, with points sharpened at each end, on which to mount Ralph’s head.

No doubt, Roger is evil He shows no remorse for his evil actions. He becomes more and more dangerous. He is caught up in the game. He kills Piggy on purpose. Now, he hunts for Ralph with evil intentions. 

 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on