Study Guide

Lord of the Flies Identity

By William Golding

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Halloween is a lot tamer than it was when people dressed up to scare away ghosts, but the idea is the same: disguising yourself lets you get away with things that you can't do in your Levis and American Apparel hoody. The boys in Lord of the Flies aren't dressing up as sexy Freddy Krueger, but they're still disguising themselves. They begin painting their faces with clay so the pigs won't see them, but the paint quickly becomes a way for them to feel better about their atrocious acts. With the paint on, they no longer have names or identities of their own; they're nameless creatures that kill and murder without consequence. Without a "self" to control, there's no need to control themselves.

Questions About Identity

  1. What does the face-painting have to do with the boys becoming more violent? Does it happen before or after the boys start to become more "savage" and "primitive"?
  2. Are the boys reverting to their true identities on the island, or leaving their true identities behind as they become more primitive?
  3. How does Simon identify the pig's head? What does he mean when he thinks that the head is "the Lord of the Flies?" Does he even know?

Chew on This

Without the masks that Jack and his hunters painted on their faces, Jack would have never attained his position of power on the island.

Ralph combats his fear by dehumanizing the boys in his mind.

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