Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
We'll let Golding start us off:
Here, struck down by the heat, the sow fell and the hunters hurled themselves at her. This dreadful eruption from an unknown world made her frantic; she squealed and bucked and the air was full of sweat and noise and blood and terror […]. 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 […].
At last the immediacy of the kill subsided. They boys drew back, and Jack stood up, holding out his hands.
He giggled and flicked them while the boys laughed at his reeking palms. Then Jack grabbed Maurice and rubbed the stuff over his cheeks . . . (8.191-196)
We talk about this scene in the "Primitivity" quotes, but it's definitely worth look at twice. This pighunt—and the other ones—symbolize man's capacity for destruction and violence. In their bloodlust, these nice British boys become vicious monsters. It's not about having meat to eat—it's about exerting power over the helpless animal. Many critics describe this as a rape scene, with the excitement coming partly from the blood and partly from their newly emerging feelings of sexuality. (Also, the pig is a nursing female—so it's almost as if the boys are killing their own mothers. Pretty grim.)
Later, the boys act out this pighunt over and over, in a sort of play-acting ritual that takes a horrifying turn when Simon is beaten to death by a mob of excited boys. If you ask us, these hunts might be a little too real to be just a symbol.