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Lord of the Flies – Characters and Symbols. Objectives: To review key moments in the novel which represent the boys’ descent into savagery To revise the main characteristics and representations of the key characters. 11xy1. Lord of the Flies - Revision. Key Point.

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lord of the flies characters and symbols
Lord of the Flies – Characters and Symbols
  • Objectives:
  • To review key moments in the novel which represent the boys’ descent into savagery
  • To revise the main characteristics and representations of the key characters


Lord of the Flies - Revision

key point
Key Point
  • The chapters of the novel are all symbolically titled, and, themselves, signal the boys’ descent into savagery. It can be helpful to reference these in the exam, should a question on this theme come up.
descent into savagery
Descent into Savagery
  • - On the handouts that you will be given, several key events concerned with varying degrees of descent into savagery are given.- Choose the 10 most important ones and cut/ stick into your exercise books in order 1 = least savage, 10 = most savage.
  • This will form a ready made essay, should this question come up in the exam.
  • You need to think carefully about your reasons for grouping them in this order – work in pairs to discuss ideas.
descent into savagery the main events
Descent into Savagery – The Main Events
  • 1. The boy with the birthmark talks about the ‘beastie’
  • 2. Jack paints his face and does a war dance
  • 3. A ship passes the island, but the fire’s out
  • 4. Jack challenges Ralph’s authority and goes off alone, soon joined by the other boys
  • 5. Jack and his gang kill a pig and put the head on a ‘stick sharpened at both ends’

Lord of the Flies -

Key Characters

Remember that

the maximum

age of

the boys is 12

ralph profile
Ralph profile




seems to be a

good leader.

Tall, blonde

hair, athletic.


Father a

Naval officer.

Relationshipswith others

Piggy and others look up to

him, friendly with Jack.

ralph key points
Ralph – Key Points
  • Does he represent the good in mankind?
  • He is the epitome of the stereotyped protagonist –tall, fair-skinned, blonde hair, blue-eyed (ironically Aryan featured).
  • He and Jack are binary oppositions of one another.
  • Elected leader, but not forceful enough to maintain the position.
  • An idealist and a dreamer – it is Piggy who does all of the thinking for him.
piggy profile
Piggy profile



Intelligent and

sensible –

teaches Ralph

how to blow the

conch, suggests

making a list

of names.

Fat, asthmatic

and short-



Orphan, lives

with aunt.



to others.

Relationshipswith others

Fears Jack, is taunted by others because of nickname.

piggy key points
Piggy – Key Points
  • Piggy is the stereotypical ‘victim’ in the novel – overweight, fat, asthmatic and short-sighted. His presence initially makes the other boys either wince or make fun of him.
  • He is represented as being of a lower class than the other boys, and consequently speaks and acts differently.
  • Ironically, he is the boy who speaks the most sense – he is intelligent, thoughtful and able to reason and hypothesize.
  • He is a paternal figure who looks after and supports the little’uns.
  • He becomes a wise counselor who supports Ralph’s attempts at democratic, parliamentary rule.
  • He increasingly finds himself at odds with Jack, a person who he instinctively fears and loathes
  • Note how sight is metaphorically and literally associated with Piggy.
jack profile
Jack profile



Bossy and

rude – orders

the choir about.

Thin, red hair

and freckles,




Leader of the


Relationshipswith others

Dominates the choir. Likes

Ralph but takes an immediate

dislike to Piggy.

jack key points
Jack – Key Points
  • Is he meant to represent the worst in people?
  • His physical appearance serves as a warning sign – the flame red hair, the pale face that blanches with displeasure.
  • He is used to taking up a leadership position – first leader of the choir, he becomes leader of the hunters.
  • Jack is a spontaneous individual who wants instant gratification for his desires.
  • He doesn’t think through the consequences of his actions (as Ralph does), but puts himself first at all times.
  • He is amoral and only enforces the sense of justice that he feels is right.
simon profile
Simon profile



Kind and helpful.

Introverted –

doesn’t like to

speak in


Likes nature.

Small, physically

frail, black hair

and bright eyes.



Relationshipswith others

Loyal towards Piggy and Ralph.

Looked on as strange by the

other boys.

simon key points
Simon – Key Points
  • He is a dark, mystical who the other boys find ‘odd’ or ‘queer’.
  • He goes barefoot and is an isolated figure – Golding deliberately makes Simon a Christ-like figure, the analogy is not coincidental.
  • He is helpful and cooperative, and the only boy to help Ralph build the shelters.
  • It is interesting that he is one of the three boys who initially explores the island (with Jack and Ralph – would we overtly notice that he’s there?)
  • He has a marked physical weakness in that he appears to suffer from epilepsy (also associated with prophetic qualities).
  • He has a high level of intuitive intelligence and this allows him to confront the boys’ fears about the ‘beast’
roger profile
Roger profile



Quiet and secretive.

Cruel – enjoys

picking on the


Black hair, gloomy face.


Is a choirboy.

Relationshipswith others

Allied with Jack.

roger key points
Roger – Key Points
  • He is mysterious, secretive, slight and furtive.
  • His name literally means ‘famous with a spear’
  • He is a sadist who delights in inflicting pain – he is unnecessarily cruel in the sow killing incident.
  • Is he the logical extension of Jack’s character?
  • He prepares the stick ‘sharpened at both ends’ to mount Ralph’s head.
setting and atmosphere
Setting and Atmosphere
  • The setting for the novel is a traditional paradise island – an Eden-like Utopia upon first glance – it is interesting that this is soon superseded by the ‘darkness of man’s heart’, causing the island to become a Dystopian prison – reflected in the description.
  • The island is initially unspoilt by man – it is important that the passenger jet makes the first ‘scar’ across its surface (the corruption of mankind).
setting and atmosphere contrasts
Setting and Atmosphere - Contrasts
  • The lagoon – warm and safe VS The cold open sea
  • The mountain – high place where rescue can be seen, provides truth and clarity VS The Castle Rock – a jumbled mix up with a dark cave in the centre. The origin of the destructive fire.
  • The beach – a safe place, the location of meetings, familiar, tame VS The jungle – wild and unknown – the ‘beast’ originates from here.
  • This is highlighted in importance during major scenes.
  • Note that when Simon is murdered there is a tumultuous thunderstorm outside.
  • Golding uses day and night to emphasise the feelings of the characters – binary oppositions.
style how golding communicates his story
Style – How Golding Communicates His Story
  • The story itself is a deceptively simple analogy.
  • For style, you should consider how Golding manipulates the following:
  • - Vocabulary, the words, the use of colour
  • - Syntax – the length and structure of sentences – note how this is different for each character. Does this change when the action is speeded up?
  • - Imagery – use of simile metaphor, personification – why does Golding use these techniques? How do they enhance atmosphere?
finding the deeper message
Finding the Deeper Message
  • Lord of the Flies undoubtedly has a deeper moral message. Consider, with a partner, the following questions:
  • - Apart from Jack and Percival, why are the other characters not given surnames?
  • Why do no girls or adults survive the crash?
  • Why is the passenger tube dragged out to sea once it has ejected the boys – could it have provided food/ shelter?
  • Why is the island so isolated in the sense that so few ships pass by?
  • If it is isolated, how do two fighter planes come to be fighting over it to allow the parachutist to land on the island?
  • Where do the pigs come from?
  • Why is Piggy the only one with glasses and the only one to go to public school?
symbolism using things or people to represent ideas
Symbolism – using things or people to represent ideas
  • - Often symbols found in LOTF can be traced back to the Bible or Greek mythology
  • - In Greek mythology FIRE is a symbol of KNOWLEDGE
  • - Both fire and knowledge can HELP and HARM
  • - ‘The Beast’ – physically the head of the sow, the name ‘Lord of the Flies’ translated into Hebrew is ‘Beelzebub’, another term for the devil.
the beast a symbol that evolves gradually
The Beast – A Symbol that Evolves Gradually
  • Chapter 1: Initially the choir are likened to an animal as they come across the sand
  • Chapter 2: The fire is compared to a ‘snake’. The snake is the devil in the GOE, but fire also represents knowledge – is this Golding saying the knowledge is a double edged sword?
  • Chapter 5: Beast from Water – the boys complain that they think there is a beast in the sea
the beast a symbol that evolves gradually1
The Beast – A symbol that evolves gradually…
  • 4. Chapter 6: Beast from Air – the dead parachutist lands on the island, taking over the place where their rescue fire is – a symbol of their aspirations.
  • 5. Chapter 7: The boys set off up the mountain to try to find the beast – note that Simon absents himself from this because he knows he’s going to have a ‘fainting fit’. Had he been there, they would have discovered the truth.
the beast a symbol that evolves gradually2
The Beast – A Symbol that Evolves Gradually
  • 6. Chapter 8: The killing of the pregnant sow – the murder of the future. Simon has his hallucinatory fit.
other symbols
Other Symbols
  • The Conch – Democracy and democratic freedom
  • The Huts – Civilization
  • Fire – Hope/ Rescue

Golding does not provide a map for his readers to show us

what the island is like. We learn about the setting as the boys move about the island exploring their new


Draw your own map of the island, adding on all the

significant places so far. You will be able to add to this

map as we read the novel.