Lord of the Flies Killing the Sow
“‘Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us’”(Golding 82). William Golding writes ‘it’s only us’ as he believes that every man has a darker side, an inner beast that is proven inescapable by moral depravity. Throughout Lord of the flies, the young British boys stranded on an island will attempt to suppress men’s darker side by governing themselves, nonetheless; their evil instincts will eventually present itself causing division among the boys. Ralph, the oldest of the group, will strive to keep the boys civilized through rules and order while Jack tries to cause chaos and bring out the savagery of the boys. Ultimately, William Golding uses Jack’s actions and the symbolism of the spear to prove that the proper and civilized behavior will fade away and man’s evil instincts will take over without the presence of civilization.
Golding reveals in the absence of civilization men will resort to their primitive evil instincts through the progression of Jack’s action in the novel. Days after the boys’ plane crashed, Jack and his hunters decide to hunt for pigs, instead of keeping the fire going which causes them to miss an opportunity of getting rescued. “‘I cut the pig’s throat,’ said Jack, proudly” (Golding 69). Jack who was overjoyed by the fact that he killed a pig announced his accomplishment to the boys. Being separated by civilization, Jack takes advantage of the freedom and begins to reveal his inner evilness by killing another creature. Golding uses the word “proudly” to reveal the darker side of Jack as isn’t ashamed of what he has done, yet feels the joy and excitement when slitting a pig’s throat.
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Moreover, Jack becomes more violent as the book progresses. When Ralph successfully wounded a boar by the sea, the boys celebrated their excitement by mocking the pig hunt as Robert pretends to be the pig. “All at once, Robert was screaming and struggling with the strength of frenzy. Jack had him by the hair and was brandishing his knife” (Golding 114). Robert begins to yell asking for the boys to stop since they became overly excited and violent; Jack pulled Robert’s hair and waved his knife in the air. Jack’s actions of pulling Robert’s hair demonstrates his violent instincts as he not only injures the pigs but also hurts one of his people; furthermore, as there are no adults and plenty of freedom on the island, he grows wild and careless leading him to “brandish his knife” in the moment of excitement. Golding uses Jack’s behavior to reveal that without civilization where there are rules and order, man will resort to their primitive instincts causing a frenzy among the boys and Jack “brandishing his knife”.
Lastly, after Jack’s tribe caused Piggy to fell off the cliff and cracked open his head, Jack felt powerful and in control. “Viciously, with full intention, he hurled his spear at Ralph. The point tore the skin and flesh over Ralph’s ribs, then sheared off and fell in the water” (181). Jack aimed for Ralph and aggressively threw his spear; the sharpened end ripped through the skin and flesh of his ribs and then fell in the water. Jack’s ambition and evilness grew the longer he was separated from society; he becomes vicious as he hurled his spear at Ralph. Golding demonstrates that man resorts the primitive evil instincts when he describes Jack throwing the spear at Ralph “viciously, with full intention”.
Golding uses the symbolism of the spear to demonstrate that in the absence of civilization, men’s unrestrained barbarity will reveal itself due to their primitive instincts. When Jack and the boys decide to go hunting in the forest, they hide behind the scattered trees waiting for the pigs to get closer to attack. “The drove of pigs started up, and at a range of only ten yards, the wooden spears with fire-hardened points flew toward the chosen pig. 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). As the pigs get closer, the hunters come out behind the trees and throw their sharpened spears towards one pig just ten yards away; one piglet who is terrified cries out while the sow squeals as it got struck by two spears. The spear symbolizes violence and savagery as it is a weapon to kill and hurt; the words ‘fire-hardened points’ describe the sharpness of the spear indicating the damage it can cause to another creature. The boy’s use of the spear causing the pigs to ‘shriek’ and ‘squeal’ reveals that without rules and order to suppress men’s darker side, their evilness will lead them to destructive actions.
Again, when Jack and Roger hunt for more pigs, they stab and wound the sow with their spear. “The spear moved forward inch by inch and the terrified squealing became a high pitched scream” (Golding 135). Jack and Roger throw their spear towards the sow who is frightened; when the spear hits the sow, its squealing changed to screams of pain. The evilness and violence that the spear represent are presented when Golding describes the pig’s “terrified squealing’ becoming ‘a high pitched scream”; by hunting with the spears, it is like using evilness to harm and kill. The pain that the spears caused on the pigs reflect on the evilness of the boys and how they are becoming unruly.
Towards the end of the novel where Jack and Ralph split up into two groups, Jack’s tribe purposely injured Ralph with a spear. “The bruised flesh was inches in diameter over his right ribs, with a swollen and bloody scar where the spear had hit him” (Golding 183). Ralph’s right ribs were swollen and bruised as the spear cut through his skin and left him a big bloody scar. The violence and savagery the spear symbolizes grow from injuring another pig to now Ralph; the damage that the spear caused Ralph reveals that the boys have become more vicious as they live without civilization. The evil instincts within the boys are now coming through in the absence of rules and order.
Through Jack’s actions and the symbolism of the spear, William Golding proved that without civilization, man will resort to his primitive and oftentimes evil instincts. Through the novel, Golding uses Jack’s action and the symbolism of the spear multiple times to show the progression of how evilness can come out of men when removed from society. As there are no rules and order the boys have to follow, the boys slowly realized that they have plenty of freedom. Their evil instincts caused them to make violent decisions and caused them to end up killing one and another. The message of the book is to address the importance of rules and order as they help us be civilized and think logically. Without it, savagery can appear which leads to chaos and division. Lack of order and civilization will allow the savage beast inside all humans to reveal itself and cause people to become vicious.