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Published: 12-10-2019

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The Symbolism That Lies Behind the Murder of the Sow

In the novel, ‘Lord of the Flies’, the killing of the sow is a pivotal moment whereby the boys attain a point of no return they have lost themselves totally and are now so immersed in savagery that there is no turning back. Golding emphasises this by making sure this moment is symbolic in numerous methods. In this essay I will analyse and explore the linguistic methods and structural elements of Golding’s writing to figure out the approaches in which Golding tends to make this such a symbolic moment in the novel.

Golding demonstrates the sheer frustration amongst the boys that is lastly surfacing as a outcome of such a extended period on the island. Golding describes how the sow was ‘in deep maternal bliss’, the energy abstract noun ‘bliss’ producing a moment that is sacred and lovely. Nonetheless, this is swiftly disrupted as the boys attack her, and Golding describes how they have been ‘wedded in lust’. While the lexis ‘lust’ has sinister and certainly immoral connotations, it appears the boys’ bloodlust at this point is a silent cry for help – it illustrates the boys’ frustration with being on the island alone, with out any parental guidance or handle. Golding’s option of a sow as the victim of the boy’s hunt is deliberate and considerable the sow had been her nursing her young when she was ripped away from them and killed. In the exact same way, the boys have been ripped away from their parents. The fate of the nursing sow is symbolic of the boys’ scenario on the island. Thus it could be argued that this moment foreshadows the fate of some, if not all, of the boys on the island. Additionally, Golding’s selection of the lexis ‘wedded’ is poignant in that it anything typically related with marriage. Here, Golding’s intention was to demonstrate the extent to which the boys have lost their innocence, as he implies that the boys are ‘in love’ with the idea of killing the sow, committed in a way that is extremely challenging to overcome. On a metaphorical level, this could be symbolic of an inescapable require to serve justice by taking one thing from the island, given that it’s taken their security, freedom and now their innocence.

Additionally, in describing the killing of the sow, Golding makes use of language that clearly symbolises a human rape scene. Golding illustrates how ‘the sow fell and the hunters hurled themselves at her’, the violent verb ‘hurled’ indicating that the hunters do much more than simply kill the pig this sow is violated by Jack and his hunters, certainly a horrific encounter for the reader, who at this point feels disgust at how immensely brutal the boys have turn into. This symbolic rape is yet another form of depravity which occurs because there are no longer any restraints on the hunters’ behaviour, Golding’s intention in choosing to symbolise rape being to develop but an additional example of how innate evil has surfaced amongst these boys, once more defeating the good in them. The gender-certain pronoun ‘her’ is important here due to the fact traditionally ladies are seen as weaker than males and historically are the most vulnerable victims of rape. Golding’s selection of a female pig is a symbol of the initial weakness or apprehension that the boys seasoned when attempting to kill the pig. Now, they not only kill the pig, but do so in an extremely violent and sinister way Golding’s intention at this point was to reveal the extent to which the boys have transcended the boundaries of great, into those of evil.

Furthermore, Golding’s creates the symbol of the pig’s head, impaled on a stick, to represent temptation and evil. Jacks determines that the ‘head is for the beast. It is a gift’, demonstrating how the boys are now completely submissive to evil, anything that they now relish and certainly honour, as demonstrated by the lexis ‘gift’. Golding’s intention in choosing particularly the head of the sow as a symbol of the beast and of evil was to give this idea a clear identity. The fact that this identity was brought about by the savagery of the boys, is a subtle indication to the reader that the boys have now accepted, or even welcomed, the evil that is inside of the them. This is substantial simply because for the duration of the novel up until this point the boys have been terrified of the beast, but now they have, albeit unconsciously, discovered that the beast is in reality themselves, they are now longer frightened – to the extent that they are honouring it with a ‘gift’. This is demonstrated also when Golding describes how ‘the sow collapsed under them and they were heavy and fulfilled upon her’, this momentous climax, with the desperate tone of the verb ‘collapsed’, mirroring that of a religious sacrifice. Golding’s intention right here being to highlight that the boys didn’t kill the sow for their own satisfaction, but for that of the beast, something which, at this point, it seems they worship, rather than fear.

In conclusion, this point in the novel is pivotal in that the reader is capable to actually appreciate the detrimental effects that becoming stranded has had on the group of boys, marking a turning point from which, in terms of the boys’ innocence, there is no return. Here, Golding creates many symbols of evil, temptation and the hopelessness of the fate of the boys on the island. As a result, it is through his productive employment of rhetorical devices that Golding is capable to make this moment in the novel so symbolic.
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