Lord of the Flies Mrs Borain

Quotes and analysis:


Beelzebub or Beel-Zebub is a name of a demon. In Christian and Biblical sources, Beelzebub is another name for the devil, similar to Satan. In Christian demonology, he is one of the seven princes of Hell according to Catholic views on Hell. - Wikipedia

The boys begin well in a relative Garden of Eden. In the beginning, everything is good. They were delighted to be stranded on an island without grown ups:

Upon realising that the island was all theirs without any grownups: “delight of a realized ambition”.

Eyes tell us a lot about the characters. Jacks eyes were “bright blue, eyes that in this frustration seemed bolting and nearly mad.” How does foreshadow what is to come? Look at other descriptions of eyes in the book.

It is Piggy who first realises how dangerous people can be when he says

“Unless we get frightened of people.”

Simon realises this too, but is not able to express himself clearly enough to be heard:

"What I mean is … maybe it’s only us.”

Simon realises that the beast is actually within them, linking to Golding’s belief that

"Man produces evil as a bee produces honey.”


Regarding the mask, “behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness” we get a sense that it frees him to behave in a way that he might not normally behave if he was not painted.

"The others nodded. They understood only too well the liberation into savagery that the concealing paint brought.”

When Jack finally manages to win the boys over to his tribe, they are described as “Demoniac figures with faces of white and red and green rushed out howling, so that the littluns fled screaming”. The word “demoniac” and their wild behaviour shows are far they have regressed from the civilised British boys craving order and rescue. In fact, Jack is now described as confident as:

"He was safe from shame or self-consciousness behind the mask of his paint and could look at each of them in turn.”

In Simon’s delirium, he thinks that “the Lord of the Flies hung on his stick and grinned” indicating how sinister the evil is within us.

The beast seems to speak to Simon – is he in fact hallucinating due to thirst and the heat? It seems the most logical conclusion, but it is not settled for the reader either way, and we are left reflecting on this strange passage:

“Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!” The beast is within them so it cannot be hunted down. It is The Lord of the Flies, Beelzebub: “I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?”

The death of the sow is disturbing and the diction suggests it is almost like a rape:

“wedded to her in lust” and afterwards they were “heavy and fulfilled upon her” after she collapses. Furthermore, they speared her “Right up her ass!”

Some critics feel that the failure to include any women, except this murdered (violated?) sow, suggests a problematic attitude towards women. I believe he is simply foregrounding their descent into savagery.

What do you think?

Jack’s transformation is complete before Simon’s death and the big feast leading up to it, and is described as follows:

“Jack, painted and garlanded, sat there like an idol.”

Again, critics are of the view that representing cultures that use face paint and wear few, if any, clothing, as "savage" insults those cultures. Again, I do not believe that was his intention, but is this a fair comment? Think about our context in SA.

Even Piggy and Ralph feel the tug of reckless abandon before the revelry:

"Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society.”

Piggy was pushed to the outside of the circle, but Ralph participates in the dance more closely. His guilt afterwards is palpable. This suggests that we are ALL capable of savage behaviour given the right set of circumstances.

Piggy’s death:

“The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.”

Piggy's death is shocking and upsetting, made worse because he is actually afraid and wants to live. He keeps asking Ralph to come to him as he stands exposed whilst Ralph addresses the painted savages.

The "death" of the conch is also symbolic of a more complete death of law and order. It symbolised democracy and order which is no more from this point on.

Jack claims that he meant for Piggy to die, even though he did not actually order it, demonstrating his complete moral degradation:

“See? See? That’s what you’ll get! I meant that! There isn’t a tribe for you any more! The conch is gone——”

There is no turning back, and the breaking of the conch and the deaths of the two boys make redemption impossible:

"Piggy and Simon lay over the island like a vapour. These painted savages would go further and further.”

The spirits and the memory of their deaths hangs over the island. Things will never be the same again.

Golding makes it clear that Jack is Ralph’s foil:

“indefinable connection between himself and Jack; who therefore would never let him alone; never.”

Note: protagonist vs antagonist.

There was no other way the story could play out but with Jack hunting Ralph down. The descent into savagery is complete by the end of the novel, and the British naval officer who finds them is dumbstruck when he hears that two boys have died.

The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.

Ralph might be crying like a child, but he has lost his childlike innocence.

The irony of being saved by the officer dressed in crisp white uniform (like an angel) whilst the weapons are described in the background, is not lost upon the reader. Can this officer really stand in judgement when he too is heading into a savage war?

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B Borain

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