Lord of the Flies

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Themes and Colors
Human Nature Theme Icon
Civilization Theme Icon
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
Spirituality and Religion Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Lord of the Flies, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Spirituality and Religion Theme Icon

Most of the boys on the island either hide behind civilization, denying the beast's existence, or succumb to the beast's power by embracing savagery. But in Lord of the Flies, Golding presents an alternative to civilized suppression and beastly savagery. This is a life of religion and spiritual truth-seeking, in which men look into their own hearts, accept that there is a beast within, and face it squarely.

Simon occupies this role in Lord of the Flies, and in doing so he symbolizes all the great spiritual and religious men, from Jesus to Buddha to nameless mystics and shamans, who have sought to help other men accept and face the terrible fact that the beast they fear is themselves. Of all the boys, only Simon fights through his own fear to discover that the "beast" at the mountaintop is just a dead man. But when Simon returns with the news that there's no real beast, only the beast within, the other boys kill him. Not just the savages, not just the civilized boys—all the boys kill Simon, because all of the boys lack the courage Simon displayed in facing the beast.

Spirituality and Religion ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Spirituality and Religion appears in each chapter of Lord of the Flies. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Spirituality and Religion Quotes in Lord of the Flies

Below you will find the important quotes in Lord of the Flies related to the theme of Spirituality and Religion.
Chapter 5 Quotes
What I mean is... Maybe it's only us...
Related Characters: Simon (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Lord of the Flies (the Beast)
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

In this section, we meet Simon, a shy, young boy who nonetheless seems preternaturally wise (and a kind of Christ-figure, as we later see). Simon and the other boys on the island are talking, once again, about the beast--the mysterious monster that supposedly endangers the boys' lives. While most of the boys believe that the beast is an external object, Simon suggests that it's actually a product of the boys' imagination.

It's important to understand what Simon means. Simon isn't saying that the boys are hallucinating or imagining the beast. Rather, he's suggesting that the greatest dangers on the island (the greatest source of violence and destruction) isn't a beast at all--it's the boys themselves. From what we've already seen, Simon has a point: the boys kill animals, hurt each other, set the trees on fire, and generally destroy everything in their path. The boys exemplify man's capacity to destroy, and to enjoy destruction--and this is the real "beast" that Simon alludes to.

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Chapter 8 Quotes
The spear moved forward inch by inch and the terrified squealing became a high-pitched scream. Then Jack found the throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands. The sow collapsed under them and they were heavy and fulfilled upon her.
Related Characters: Jack
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Jack engages in another hunt--one that's depicted in heavily sexualized language. Jack and his followers pursue a pig, but not just any pig--a sow (i.e., a female pig). By any rational measure, it's a bad idea for Jack to kill a sow--if the boys want to eat, then they should let the sow live to give birth to more pigs. But of course, Jack and his followers aren't entirely concerned with eating, or any other practical issue for that matter. They want to savor the feeling of murder.

Jack's killing is presented as a sexual act: he thrusts a phallic spear into the female pig, followed by a burst of bodily fluids, and finally, a tired, heavy "fulfillment." Golding, a Freudian, associates sex and aggression: they're two sides of the same savage, brutal, yet quintessentially human coin. In short, the scene exemplifies everything irrational and violent about human nature--everything that Ralph is trying, unsuccessfully, to eliminate from his island society.

There isn't anyone to help you. Only me. And I'm the Beast... Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!... You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are the way they are?
Related Characters: Simon
Related Symbols: The Lord of the Flies (the Beast)
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:

In this dreamlike scene, Simon hallucinates an encounter with "the Beast." At first, Simon notices the sight of a pig's head on a stick, covered in flies. As he falls into a trance state, Simon finds himself talking to the pig's head. The head claims that it is the Beast to which the other boys have been alluding all along. Strangely, the Beast claims that it was foolish for the other boys to believe that it was an external object, one that could be hunted and killed.

The passage confirms what Simon had already suspected--the supposed "beast" isn't a living animal at all; it's the collective spirit of the boys' violence and brutality, the potential for evil and savagery that lives inside all humans. Jack and his followers have discovered something within themselves--a strong desire to hurt and kill. This desire, which is uniquely human, yet suppressed within most of human society, is precisely what the pig's head embodies.

The paradox of this passage is that although the Beast insists that it's not a material thing at all, it is a material thing in the passage--it's a head on a stick. It would be a huge mistake to take the passage too literally. Simon is horrified by the sight of the pig's head, but he understands that the head itself is only a form that the Beast takes in his imagination. In reality, the Beast has no form whatsoever--it's the "heart of darkness" that lies inside all human beings.

Chapter 12 Quotes
What did it mean? A stick sharpened at both ends. What was there in that?
Related Characters: Ralph (speaker)
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the novel, Ralph prepares to be hunted down by Jack and his gang of boys. Shortly before he's to be hunted, Ralph crosses paths with Samneric, who have been forced to join Jack, but don't respect him at all. Samneric tell Ralph that Jack is sharpening a stick at both ends. Although Ralph has no idea what this means, it's suggested that Jack is planning to cut off Ralph's head and "sacrifice" it to the Beast, much as he did with the pig earlier in the novel.

As the passage suggests, Jack's society is a dark mirror-image of the one Ralph founded at the beginning of the novel. Where Ralph's society was based on reason, free speech, and practicality, Jack's society is based on murder, brutality, and bloodshed. And yet both societies "work" in the same way: they're organized around a central figure (Ralph, Jack), who's armed with a barrage of symbols (for Ralph, the conch; for Jack, the pig's head and Ralph's head). As Jack sees it, there is no right or wrong in the world. His society is based on one thing: power. Jack will hunt down Ralph and kill him to cement his power and create a new symbol of his power.