Lord of the Flies Quotes

This well-loved and much-debated novel is filled with striking and memorable quotes. Golding makes use of incredible examples of imagery as he describes the transformation of the boys from civilized members of modern society to savages.

There are several prominent themes that run throughout the novel. Perhaps the most prominent is the idea of savagery versus civilization and the inherent evil within man. Below are a few of the most the quotes that highlight this theme throughout the novel.

Lord of the Flies Quotes


The Beast

There isn’t no beast – not with claws and all that.

This line is taken from a section of the book where the boys are debating whether or not there is a beast and speculating on what it might be. This line is one of the first suggestions that the beast is not a physical entity but rather the manifestation of the evil that exists within men.

Savagery vs. Civilization

We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything.

What is particularly provocative about this line is that it is uttered by Jack, who later in the book encourages the boys to abandon the rules that they have in place. The line is deeply rooted in irony. Given England’s history of acting savagely towards nations that they deemed to be less advanced and even savage, particularly during their colonial days making this quote even more powerfully ironic in the current climate.

Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood.

This is a chant that the boys use to role-play killing the pig. This is particularly interesting as there are no female characters in the novel, and so the sow is the only representation of femininity. The desire to rid the island of femininity seems to be a powerful concept. When the children start chanting this, it becomes quite jarring, almost scary.

In my opinion, this is one of the most unnerving parts of the novel, as it really helped to portray a frenzy. And while I personally do not hold with Golding’s wider message, there are certainly examples in the real world where peer pressure has led to frenzies like the one described here. For instance, two rival schools clashed in the UK, and several students were badly injured or died due to the fray.

Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.

Piggy’s death really symbolizes the end of any reason. While Ralph is displayed as a democratic leader throughout the text, Piggy is the brains of the operation. Piggy’s glasses are symbolic of progress and technology, and Piggy himself represents the human ability to harness that and to be progressive, so when he is killed, it is a sign that the boys have fully regressed. This is the moment where Golding truly drives home his point that darkness exists at the very core of mankind.

Transformation

The mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness.

The boys and in particular Jack and his hunters, start to paint their faces. These masks symbolize the descent into savagery. When this quote states that Jack is being liberated, the insinuation is that he is being freed by the constraints of society. That he is effectively becoming a savage and embracing the evil which Golding suggests is inside all human beings.

The conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.

There are several points in the novel where you could claim lines are crossed but given the symbolism of the conch. The fact that it represents civilization, you can pinpoint the abandonment of civility to this very moment. The conch breaking represents the breakdown of civilization, and it is a point that there is no return from.

Memory of the dance that none of them had attended shook all four boys convulsively.

In these lines, readers might find themselves reminded of the concept of “groupthink” from Orwell’s groundbreaking novel, 1984. It is evident here as the group of boys tries to repress their actions. The only child that really seems to have been pure is Simon, and all four of the boys played a hand in his death. It does not really matter that they were under the impression that Simon was the Beast– they reverted to their most basic nature.

FAQs

What are Piggy’s last words?

Piggy’s last words are: “Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up.”

What is the most important message of Lord of the Flies?

The most important message is that fear and the loss of social structures lead to the devolution of society.

Who kills Piggy?

Piggy is killed by Roger in Chapter 11 of Lord of the Flies. This happens right after he crushes the conch shell.

About Lee-James Bovey
Lee-James, a.k.a. LJ, has been a Book Analysis team member since it was first created. During the day, he's an English Teacher. During the night, he provides in-depth analysis and summary of books.
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