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Lord of the Flies | Study Guide

William Golding

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Lord of the Flies | Discussion Questions 31 - 40


In Chapter 7 of Lord of the Flies, what does Simon mean when he suggests they climb up the mountain despite knowing the beast is there?

Simon explains his view that they should climb the mountain by saying, "What else is there to do?" His underlying message seems to be that they should face their fears. While Simon himself does not believe in a physical beast, the only way to handle the beast, or any problem, is to face it. As already seen in the text, once fear comes to exist, it is practically impossible to contain. It grows and starts to control people's minds and actions. The boys can avoid the mountain and pretend the beast does not exist, but the fear will always remain. Simon believes the boys should go to the mountain and face the beast, so they can understand the actual dimensions of what they fear.

How and why does Piggy's role change once Jack departs in Chapter 7 of Lord of the Flies?

From the moment Jack and Piggy met each other, they did not get along. Jack has hit Piggy multiple times, while Piggy feels like he can't breathe in Jack's presence. Their failure to connect results from Piggy's and Jack's being opposites in every way, and they repel each other. Jack has gone savage, while Piggy is the voice of reason. Once Jack leaves the group, Piggy is no longer suffocating and is freed up to use his reasoning skills. The boys see this other side of Piggy, as they are no longer looking at him through the eyes of Jack. He seems to have shed his outsider status, and his ideas are taken seriously.

What does the pig's head symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

The Lord of the Flies is so named by Simon because of the flies that are buzzing around the pig's head. On the author's part, the selection of the name Lord of the Flies is a translation of Beelzebub, which is one of the names of Satan. Thus, the Lord of the Flies symbolizes the propensity to evil or immorality. In the conversation that Simon imagines with the Lord of the Flies, it insults and then warns him. What Simon hears confirms his thinking that the beast, which the Lord of the Flies is identified with, is "part of you." Thus, the Lord of the Flies represents the evil that resides in each person.

Why does Jack command the boys to dance and chant while at the feast in Chapter 9 of Lord of the Flies?

Jack commands the boys to dance and chant in part to win their allegiance and in part to demonstrate his authority. Jack invited the others to the feast because he wanted them to join his tribe. When they see that Jack and his tribe are not so different from themselves, more boys will be willing to join it. By ordering them to dance, Jack makes it easier for them to join the tribe—they are taking part in what seems like one of the tribe's rituals. The next time he tells them to do something, it will be easier for them to accept it because they have already joined in tribal activities. In addition, the act of commanding and receiving obedience reinforces Jack's leadership. He is the one who can compel that others act as he wishes. They are his followers.

How does the death of Simon in Lord of the Flies show dramatic irony and appear especially tragic?

Because Simon is the one boy who is virtuous, his death shows dramatic irony and is particularly tragic. While one idea presented in the book is that everyone has evil inside him, that part of Simon is never shown. He helps the group by working with Ralph to build shelters, he helps the littluns by obtaining for them fruit they cannot reach, and he never teases or ridicules anyone else. The boys ignore this aspect of Simon's character and so their mistaking him for the beast is rich in dramatic irony. The tragedy of Simon's death is that he had discovered the truth behind what the boys had been calling the beast. If Simon had had the opportunity to share the truth with the others, the fear that takes control of them might have been overcome. Without this fear, there is a chance the boys could come to understand themselves and reconcile their differences.

In Chapter 10 of Lord of the Flies, how do Ralph and Piggy cope with their roles in the death of Simon?

Simon dies an awful death as the boys tear him apart with their bare hands and teeth. All the older boys are there, including Ralph, Piggy, and Samneric. The next day, Ralph seems to feel a need to talk about what happened and raises the issue with Piggy, but both deny what actually happened. Ralph claims that they were "on the outside" of the group of boys doing the killing: "That's right," Piggy eagerly agrees. "We never done nothing, we never seen nothing." Ignoring their role is a way of protecting themselves from the evil that got hold of them. Their reaction recalls the reaction of all the boys when the littlun with the mulberry birthmark dies in the first fire in Chapter 1. None speak of the young boy's death, as none can face their role in it.

In Chapter 10 of Lord of the Flies, how does Piggy's thought that Jack and his crew wanted the conch shell show that he is out of touch?

Jack was never deeply interested in the conch shell, and by Chapter 10 he has no use for it at all. Thus, Piggy's belief that Jack wants the conch shell is an illusion. He is projecting his own high valuation of the conch shell onto Jack. Despite Piggy's wisdom and reason, he is unable to recognize just how far Jack and his crew have fallen. When people or situations do not match up with Piggy's understanding of right and wrong, he is unable to reconcile the differences. This misunderstanding of the situation ultimately leads to his death when he thinks he can reason with Jack and get his glasses back.

In Chapter 10 of Lord of the Flies, why does Jack insist that they did not kill the beast and that it will return?

While the boys in Jack's tribe have succumbed to the evil inside, they are not at the level to which Jack has sunk. They realize, after the fact, that they killed Simon. Like Ralph, some of them feel guilty. By insisting that "the beast disguised itself," the boys can alleviate their guilt. They did not attack Simon but the beast. In addition, Jack's claim that the beast is still alive—reflected in the words "How could we—kill—it?" leaves the boys fearful. The boys turn to Jack because he promises to protect them. Because they feel that they need Jack to keep them safe, he becomes more powerful. He can act however he pleases, even if it means beating a boy for no apparent reason.

How does the loss of Piggy's glasses symbolize the end of Ralph's power on the island in Lord of the Flies?

Under Ralph's leadership, the boys acted in a civilized manner and were focused on rescue. There were three items that symbolized this: the conch shell, the signal fire, and Piggy's glasses. The conch shell is rendered moot when the boys no longer respond to it. The signal fire can no longer be lit on the mountain because the boys, afraid of the beast, will not go there. The loss of Piggy's glasses is the final symbol of Ralph's leadership to go. Without Piggy's glasses, Ralph and his diminished crew cannot send smoke signals. At this point, the chances of being discovered are reduced to pure luck. So Ralph's group, which was based on striving for rescue, is defunct.

Why does Ralph want to clean himself up before visiting Jack's group in Chapter 11 of Lord of the Flies?

Ralph wants to clean himself, first, to reassure himself of his own weakened hold on civilization, and second, to try to shock Jack and the others into seeing their own savagery. Ralph is shaken by what happened to Simon and feels guilty at having taken part in his murder. By cleaning up, he rejects the savagery within himself and tries to restore his own sense of decency and right conduct. In addition, Ralph hopes that if the others see him looking civilized, it will shock them. They will be forced to take a look at themselves and recognize that they have becomes savages.

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