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MonkeyNotes-Lord of the Flies by William Golding-Free Booknotes Summary
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TITLE OF THE NOVEL

Lord of the Flies refers to Beelzebub, another name for the devil. He is also called the Lord of Filth and Dung. Throughout the novel, the children grow dirtier and dirtier, an outward reflection of their inner state. As their savagery and evil increases, they seek a symbol, a god to worship. When Jack and his hunters kill a boar, they have their opportunity; they leave the pig's head impaled on a stake as an offering to the beast. The head is soon rotting and covered with flies. The head, referred to as the "Lord of the Flies" then serves as a symbol of the evil and savagery of Jack's tribe of hunters. At the end of the novel, Ralph, with disgust, knocks the boar's skull to the ground and seizes the stick to use as a spear. He understands the evil that surrounds him in the person of Jack, and he seeks to destroy it.


ENDING OF THE NOVEL

The novel ends with naval officers arriving on the island. The one that spies Ralph and the savages who chase him, at first sees the boys as dirty children involved in fun and games. When he learns from Ralph what has happened on the island, he is amazed that civilized British children could sink to such a low level of humanity. Ralph and the boys listening to his scolding and break into tears that quickly become sobs. They are crying over the horror of their experience and relief over returning to civilization. As the boys weep, the naval officer simply looks out to sea to allow them to regain their composure. The ending is abrupt, appearing almost contrived.

The naval officer fails to see the significance of the boys' experience. His not realizing what has happened on the island mirrors his own inability to recognize evil within himself and all mankind. When he mentions fun and games, the reader is jerked back to reality. These are children who should be innocent and should be playing games. Instead, they have become the reality in all of us --- not that of innocence, but of evil.

It is ironic that the naval officer while appearing to represent civilization and rational society actually represents the evil present in civilization just like the boys themselves. He is a soldier who fights wars, which is certainly civilization at it's worst.

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