Meet me at Castle Rock
The following themes and quotes in Lord of the Flies are one man’s scholarly musings. You are free to disagree and come up with your own and leave them in the comments. Or you can meet me at Castle Rock for a close up of a stick sharpened at both ends.
The two most common themes within Lord of the Flies are the battle between civilization and savagery and the loss of innocence. These common themes within Lord of the Flies are developed through the breakup of the tribe and the progression of the hunts:
In chapter 1, Simon, Jack, and Ralph find a piglet in the creepers. Jack fears killing it and claims he “was just waiting for a moment to decide were to stab him” (31). The civilized boys cannot remove civilized inhibitions so readily.
In chapter 3, Jack tracks a pig through the forest, but it escapes. Afterwards “Jack stood there, streaming with sweat, streaked with brown earth, stained by all the vicissitudes of a day’s hunt” (49). Despite Jack’s failure, he has obviously learned hunting skills. More importantly, he yearns to kill a pig, not only for the food, but for the knowledge of taking a life and spilling its blood. In a short amount of time, Jack has shed much of civilization’s rules.
In chapter 4, Jack and his hunters kill their first pig. The hunters chant. The scene immediately before the hunt shows Jack crossing over from civilized to savage by making a mask, “a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, (liberating him) from shame and self consciousness” (64).
In chapter 8, the hunters brutally slaughter a sow, place its head on a sharpened stick, and leave it as a sacrifice for the beast.
In chapter 9, the hunters make a circle and chant. This chant brought about “another desire, thick, urgent, blind. (152). The group chants “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” (152). Simon appears out of the forest and the mob of pretend hunters kill him. The savage boys can only be satisfied by blood, even human blood.
In chapter 12, Ralph becomes the hunter’s prey as Ralph sharpens a stick at both ends. The hunters intend to sacrifice Ralph to the beast. Most psychologists would agree that once you begin sacrificing human heads to imaginary beasts, you’ve probably crossed over the line of savagery.
The breakup of civilization and the loss of innocence can be traced through the breakdown of the island government.
A fire burns out of control, a metaphor for the boys who are out of control. Foreshadowing what is to come we read that “Piggy glanced nervously into hell and cradled the conch” (44).
A ship passes, but does not stop. The hunters let the fire go out.
Jack and his hunters paint their faces, separating them from civilization.
Piggy’s glasses, a symbol of wisdom, are broken, leaving Piggy, the voice of reason “islanded in a meaningless color” (73).
The older boys begin to believe in the beast.
The mother sow is murdered, with a “spear right up her a–” (136).
Simon is killed.
Jack, Maurice, and Roger steal Piggy’s glasses in a late night raid. Ralph calls Jack a “beast and a swine and a bloody, bloody thief!” (179).
Piggy is killed as “the rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments.” (181). With one boulder roll the voice of reason and the symbol of civilization are destroyed.
Finally, Jack’s group of hunters make Ralph, their elected leader, prey as Roger sharpens a stick at both ends.
This post is part of the series: Lord of the Flies Study Guide
- Important Quotes from Lord of the Flies
- Lord of the Flies Chapter Summaries
- Characters in Lord of the Flies
- Symbolism in Lord of the Flies
- Lord of the Flies Allusions
- Review of Important Themes in Lord of the Flies