Lord of the Flies

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Often times, authors use characters in their novels and stories as symbols. The characters may be symbolic of the tangible as well as the non-tangible. In addition, characters can often be looked at with a psychological approach to literature in order to better determine or understand their symbolic significance. In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, special symbolic significance may be found in the characters, Piggy, Ralph, and Jack.
Piggy, the heavy, asthmatic, nearsighted boy, was often teased and ridiculed, however Golding made it obvious to the reader that Piggy was indeed the super ego. Piggy symbolizes all the hate and discrimination in the world. If it was not for Piggy’s bizarre appearance, he may have been made ruler of the island, and he certainly was the most suited for the job. He also symbolizes intelligence. He was analogous to sanity and reason. “Piggy’s role as a man’s reasoning faculties him as a father” (Rosenfield 264). Piggy always used ideal judgment and was the island’s only adult-like figure. He demonstrated this at a tribal meeting after the boys nearly burned down the island:

“I got the conch! Just you listen! The first thing we ought to have made was shelters down there by the beach. It wasn’t half cold there in the night but the first time Ralph says ‘fire’ you goes howling and screaming up this here mountain. Like a pack of kids!”
By now they were listening to the tirade.
“How can you expect to be rescued if you don’t put first things first and act proper?”
He took off his glasses and made as if to put down the conch; but the sudden motion towards it of most of the older boys changed his mind. He tucked the shell under his arm, and crouched back on a rock.
“Then when you get here you build a bonfire that isn’t no use. Now you been and set the whole island on fire. Won’t we look funny if the whole island burns up? Cooked fruit, that’s what we’ll have to eat, and roast pork. And that’s nothing to laugh at! You said Ralph was chief and you don’t give him time to think. Then when he says something you rush off, like, like—“
He paused for breath, and the fire growled at them.
“And that’s not all. Them kids. The ...

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...he id is also associated with basic human instincts. This further identifies the symbolic significance linked with Jack. After reading Lord of the Flies, it is obvious to one that Jack symbolizes natural human instincts.
After reading this essay and Golding’s novel, one now has a better understanding of the symbolic significance or the characters: Piggy, Ralph, and Jack. Piggy, symbolic of intelligence and prejudice, can be most closely compared to a modern-day “geek.” The geek may not seem to be of importance because of their awkwardness, but may be extremely intelligent. Ralph is the chief, leader, and symbol of civilization. He is the President of United States. He leads the society and governs the people. Finally, Jack, the barbaric hunter who symbolized human instincts is like the ancient cave man that hunted the wholly mammoth. Both survived solely on instinctive motives. When one understands the symbolic significance in a novel, they are able to better interpret the novel and understand it to a much fuller and broader extent.


Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Perigee Books, 1954.
Rosenfield. “Men of a Smaller Growth.”

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