Symbolism in Lord of the Flies

Published: 2021-07-18 10:20:05
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Lord of the Flies Essay
Symbolism is a very powerful literary device that helps the reader better understand a novel. Certain colors can hold meaning, and this meaning can change throughout the novel. Lord of the Flies by William Golding tells the story of a group of boys from London who are stranded on a deserted island during WWII.
The book displays Golding’s thoughts on how humans act when there are no societal rules. The novel uses symbols to show how quickly the boys on the island descend into violence, and how extreme that violence really is. This symbol leads to a deeper understanding of how when society is not watching, things can become horrific. Over the course of the novel, the color pink progresses from a symbol of innocence and order to representing death and disappointment, demonstrating that without rules, man loses structure and devolves into chaos.
At the beginning of the novel, the color pink represents peace and calm. At this time, the island is unscathed. When the boys first land, they explore the land to determine if it is an island or not. In their journey, they mention multiple times a serene pink cliff: “The most usual feature of the rock was a pink cliff surmounted by a skewed block; and that again surmounted, and that again, till the pinkness became a stack of balanced rock projecting through the looped fantasy of the forest creepers.
Where the pink cliffs rose out of the ground there were often narrow tracks winding upwards” (Golding 26). Since everything is fine so far, the island being described as pink in the very beginning shows that pink is tied to innocence. The “pink cliff” (Golding 26). is mentioned many times throughout the beginning of the boys’ stay on the island. The color is also something calming.
After a job is completed, in this case laboriously gathering wood to make a fire, the color is mentioned to describe the island once more accompanied by a mood of accomplishment: “One by one, as they sensed that the pile was complete, the boys stopped going back for more and stood, with the pink, shattered top of the mountain around them. Breath came evenly by now, and sweat dried” (Golding 39). After doing a difficult job, the boys stop for a minute and appreciate it, surrounded by the beautiful pink mountain. This image of the beautiful pink mountain along with the satisfaction of a job well done demonstrates that pink symbolizes peace and calm in the beginning of the novel.
As the story of the boys progresses, the color pink begins to symbolize death and disappointment. Tension forms between the boys because one of them, Jack Merridew, believes he can be a better leader for the group than their current leader, Ralph. This causes a lot of hate and the color pink starts to reflect it. The color of the conch shell which represents leadership, but it begins to fade: “Exposure to the air had bleached the yellow and pink to near-white, and transparency” (Golding 72).
The conch shell’s color is becoming bleached, signaling that leadership and civilization is starting to die. And, without leadership, the boys have no support system and things can easily fall through the cracks. The color pink is used again to describe a peaceful scene when Jack’s group of hunters finds another pig to kill: “A little apart from the rest, sunk in deep maternal bliss, lay the largest sow of the lot. She was black and pink; and the great bladder of her belly was fringed with a row of piglets that slept or burrowed and squeaked. […] One piglet, with a demented shriek, rushed into the sea trailing Roger’s spear behind it.
The sow gave a gasping squeal and staggered up, with two spears sticking in her fat flank” (Golding 134). The matronly nature of the sow and how brutally they killed its pink body shows that even though pink is still being used to describe a peaceful scene, the serene situation is destroyed in the end. The color pink also symbolizes disappointment and death later in the novel. When Piggy dies, he falls off the pink cliff and into the sea: “Then the sea breathed again in a long, slow sigh, the water boiled white and pink over the rock; and when it went, sucking back again, the body of Piggy was gone” (Golding 181).
The sea sighs before turning pink with Piggy’s blood, showing a disappointment in the fact that three people have died on the island. The color pink has changes from a symbol of peace to one of death. The theme of Lord of the Flies By William Golding is that without rules, man loses structure and devolves into chaos. This is very evident through the change in meaning of the color pink. Pink represents a peaceful color in the beginning. This highlights how fresh and new the island is.
But, as the boys begin to make the island their own, the meaning of the color changes. First, the unscathed island is described as pink multiple times, showing how peaceful their original situation is. But, by the end, pink had been used to describe blood in the ocean surrounding the island. The color pink amplifies the fact that these seemingly innocent children have the power to do some serious damage if left without a stable civilization.
The theme of the book is shone through this symbol to better intensify its message. In Lord of the Flies, the color pink changes throughout the course of the novel, thus highlighting that without rules for the boys to live by, the situation can turn disastrous very quickly.
The boys realize that the seemingly annoying rules that their parents set for them are no longer in place, so they are free to do whatever they please. Things quickly go south. Through the description of the island at the beginning and the description of the surrounding ocean at the end, the color pink begins by representing peace and ends by representing death. The development of the symbol shows that people can easily turn to violence if there are no rules to regulate their actions.   

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