The Killing Of The Sow As A Symbol For Original Sin In Lord Of The Flies

The killing of the sow marks a turning point in the story, as the boys have completely lost themselves and are now so involved in savagery that it is impossible to turn back. This moment is made symbolic by Golding. This essay examines the linguistic elements and structural elements used by Golding to make this a symbol in his writing.

Golding shows how the island’s long duration has caused frustration amongst the boys. Golding describes how the asw was ‘in deep parental bliss’. This power abstract noun, ‘bliss’ creates a moment that is sacred. The boys quickly interrupt this and attack her. Golding also describes how they were ‘wedded to lust’. Although the term ‘lust’ in the Lexis has sinister, and perhaps even immoral connotations; it seems the boys are merely expressing frustration at being left alone on the island, with no parental supervision. Golding deliberately chose a sow to become the victim in the boy’s hunt. This was because the sow was their babysitter when they took her away and she was killed. The same happened to the boys. The fates of nursing sows are symbolic of the men’s situation on the island. You could argue that this moment predicts the fates of several, if any, of the island’s men. Golding’s decision to use the term ‘wedded’ for the lexis is profound because it is usually synonymous with marriage. Golding was attempting to show the extent to which these boys have lost innocence by suggesting that they are ‘infatuated’ with the idea killing the sow. This is a difficult task to overcome. On a metaphorical level, this could be symbolic of an inescapable need to serve justice by taking something from the island, since it’s taken their safety, freedom and now their innocence.Furthermore, in describing the killing of the sow, Golding uses language that clearly symbolises a human rape scene. Golding illustrates the way that ‘the sow was thrown to the ground by the hunters’. This violent verb referred to the hunters’ actions in attempting to kill the pig. The symbolic rape is another type of depravity that occurs because the hunters are not subject to any restrictions. Golding chose to symbolise the rape to show how the boys have lost their humanity. The gender-specific pronoun “her” is important because historically women are thought to be weaker and more vulnerable to rape. Golding chose to kill a female animal as a symbol of their initial fear and weakness. They kill the pig in a violent and sinister manner. This was Golding’s intent.

Golding’s adds the symbol of the head of the pig to denote evil and temptation. Jacks identifies the ‘head’ as the beast. It’s an honor, and a gift. This demonstrates that the boys now love evil, and are willing to submit to it. Golding deliberately chose the head the sow to symbolize the beast and evil. The boys’ savagery is an indirect indication that they have accepted or welcomed the evil in them. This is important as the boys had been afraid of the beast throughout the book. But now, even though they don’t know it, they’re no longer scared of the beast and are honoring it with a “gift”. This is evident when Golding describes the moment when the sow fell under their feet and they felt heavy and satisfied upon her. The desperate tone of Golding’s verb collapsed’ mirrors that of a religious offering. Golding is highlighting that the boys did not kill the sow to satisfy themselves, but rather for the pleasure of the beast. At this point, it appears that they worship the beast and not fear.

This begs the question: Are humans innately good and evil? Golding was a catholic. He was heavily influenced in his belief system of the original sin’ of Christ and the fall of man. This theme of good versus bad in human nature and how we can be made to be better is what he believed. His war experiences, including those at Hiroshima and Dresden, and the problem of nuclear and atomic weapons after world war two, highlighted the worst aspects of humanity, and the evil and savagery hidden within our natures, during Golding’s lifetime. While such harsh realities may lead you to believe that humans are innately wicked, some people will disagree. They might also mention the notion of kindness being more easy than kindness. This ideology is responsible for many atrocities across the globe and the boys’ brutal and violent behavior.

The novel’s pivotal point, which is the ability to understand the devastating effects that being stranded had on the boys, is the turning point. Golding uses this moment to create many symbols of evil and temptation, as well as the despair of the fate of these boys. Golding uses rhetorical tools to create symbolic meaning in this scene.


White, R. J. (1964). BUTTERFLY, BEAST AND LORD OF THE FLIES. Modern Fiction Studies, 163-170. (

Dick, B. F. (1964). Lord of the Flies” and “The Bacchae.” The Classical World journal published an article suggesting that Classical antiquity had a major impact on the development of culture in the modern era. The article, which appeared in the journal’s 57th volume, fourteenth issue, highlighted the lasting legacy of Classical antiquity. (

Henningfeld, D. A. (1998). A summary of Lord of the Flies. The Literature Resource Center provides information about writers and their works. (

Bruns, B. (2008). The symbolism of power in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. (

Alfaro, T. (2022). Saving the Boys: Preparing Moral Engagement in Lord of the Flies (


  • rosssaunders

    Ross Saunders is an educational blogger and professor, who has written extensively on topics such as education reform, online learning, and assessment. He has also spoken on the topic at various conferences and universities.

rosssaunders Written by:

Ross Saunders is an educational blogger and professor, who has written extensively on topics such as education reform, online learning, and assessment. He has also spoken on the topic at various conferences and universities.

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