The man is inherently evil is, of course, the germinal idea of Lord of the Flies. Evil is one of Golding’s major preoccupations in this novel. The novel is primarily an allegory or a fable intended to convey Golding’s view that evil is a powerful instinct in human beings and needs only a favorable environment to grow and flourish. Several symbols have been used by Golding in this novel to convey this theme.
One of the most important symbols in the novel is the conch. In the novel, conch becomes a symbol of authority, of democracy and of civilized behavior. Hence, the destruction of the conch means the end of all civilized behavior and discipline and the emergence of barbarism.
Superficially, the fire in the novel is a distress symbol. However, symbolically it is both a source of comfort when the boys are asleep and also a force of destruction. In the final chapter, Jack sets the forest on fire to smoke out Ralph. Hence, the fire is a triple symbol: a symbol of rescue, a symbol of the comfort of a hearth, and a symbol of destruction and the eventual emergence of evil.
The head of the sow slain by Jack and his hunters, and stuck on a stick, serves as a powerful symbol of evil in the novel. This symbol is central to the theme. The theme of the novel is the emergence to the surface of the evil which lies dormant in the human consciousness. The sow’s head symbolizes the evil within the boys waiting to spring up to the surface.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Perigee Books, 1959.