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Lord of the Flies contains an absurd amount of biblical references, one of which being the titular character. The creature is obviously supposed to be some kind of demon or devil, but is this a specific reference to a specific religious creature?

Did the Lord of the Flies have any kind of religious reference more specific than just the Devil?

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The entire book can be seen as an allegory for the Bible. It has a startlingly large number of allusions to Jewish and Christian myths and stories. Here are some of them:

  • The island, in the beginning, is a parallel for the Garden of Eden
  • Ralph's first act upon reaching the island is to take off his clothes and jump into the water. This symbolizes the nakedness of Adam and Eve and the Christian rite of Baptism
  • The boys then form a society out of this, like the human race forming out of Adam and Eve
  • Jack and Ralph can be seen as Cain and Abel
  • The beastie, which the boy with the birthmark refers to as a snake-thing, like the snake of Eden leading to original sin
  • Obviously, the whole "Lord of the Flies=Satan" thing, as well as the translation of Beezlebub into Lord of the Flies. The Lord of the Flies might also represent the snake.
  • However, Satan does not bring about the "original sin." Instead, the evil is found within the residents of Eden. Thus Golding is proclaiming against religion.
  • Simon as Christ. This is a bit of a stretch, but sort of makes sense when you think about it.

Basically, the Lord of the Flies tries to demonstrate that the Bible was wrong; that men have always had evil inside of us, and that it was not the snake's fault, that is just human nature.

It doesn't hurt that the whole thing comes from World War II, in which Golding fought; this is probably where he got those ideas about human nature.

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  • Not to mention the fact that everything is in threes, like the holy trinity. – Parzival Jan 29 '17 at 16:48
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I can think of 3 other references, just in the very first bit of the book:

  • The island could be considered to be Eden from the Bible.

  • The "snake-thing" could be a reference to the serpent who tempted Adam and Eve

  • (a bit of a stretch but sorta) Ralph's removal of his clothes to bathe could be related to baptism/the fact that Adam and Eve didn't start with any clothes.

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Existing answers have covered a few of these concepts, but there was plenty of Christian iconography apart from the devil who promoted evil among mankind.

The island itself, particularly Simon's glade, functions as a kind of Garden of Eden that is gradually corrupted by the introduction of evil. Simon's glade turns into a kind of church because of him. Within, Simon attracts the most idyllic and flighty creatures -

He squatted down, parted the leaves [...] gaudy butterflies that danced around each other.

When Simon is stabbed to death by boys with pointed sticks, we are reminded of a certain 'hero' who was beaten by men with sticks before he was killed on a stick. Further, Simon is the character who arrives at the moral truth of the novel, and because he is killed sacrificially as a consequence of having discovered the truth, his life contains strong parallels with that of Jesus Christ. His conversation with the Lord of the Flies similarly parallels the confrontation between Christ and the devil in Christian theology.

However, the parallels between Simon and Christ are incomplete, so the novel is not a pure Christian allegory. Simon is an unsung, solitary, stammering boy where Jesus was an altruistic saviour. For another thing, Simon lacks the supernatural connection to the divine that is the main characteristic of Jesus. Simon is is wise in many ways, with a high intuitive intelligence and exceptional bravery. Yet he is no son of God, and his death does not bring salvation to the island. Rather, his death plunges the island into deeper savagery and moral guilt. For another, Simon dies before he can tell the boys what he has discovered, while Christ managed to spread his moral philosophy before he was crucified.

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The allusions mentioned above are true in some regard; although, some clarity could be made about the Christian idea of sin. Christianity affirms that each individual has the choice of, even the propensity to, sin; but that sin is always a product of choice, even when tempted by the devil (in our story, "The Lord of the Flies"). Therefore, Simon's recognition that, "Maybe the beast is us," affirms the Christian idea that evil is put forward by and from us and that human beings need a savior. That is why Lord of the Flies is considered to have Christian allegories rather than, say, Buddhist allegories since other religious traditions teach that goodness can be achieved within our own doing. Christianity teaches that there must be a savior.

In addition, Simon holds many, many Biblical and Christ-like allusions.

  • He is gentle with children.
  • He knows the Truth about human nature.
  • He confronts The Lord of the Flies (as mentioned above, Satan).
  • He confronts "the beast" in a cave like Jesus confronted sin in his cave/tomb.
  • When he talks with "the beast," it tries to tempt Simon to ignore the truth--the truth that he needs to convey to the other boys. This is similar to the devil tempting Jesus in the desert to give up his mission.
  • He travels up the mountain at the end of the novel and receives knowledge of the pilot, just as the Bible uses mountains to signify places of receiving knowledge.
  • He faints and falls three times in the novel (when we first meet him, when he first see's the sow head, after he talks to the Lord of the Flies), just as Jesus fell three times on his journey to the cross.
  • After this, he travels to his death at the hands of corrupted humans, even though Simon holds the truth that should set them all free from the idea of "the beast."

There are many allusions that make Simon a Christ figure in this novel. Additionally, there are a few lines of exposition, characterization, and imagery that also add to the religious or Christ-like reading of Simon. One example is when Ralph and Jack argue about the ship getting away because the fire went out. Jack releases his anger on Piggy, and his propensity for violence becomes clear. Piggy's glasses hit the rocks, breaking one lens, and, "Simon, who got there first, found them for him. Passions beat about Simon on the mountain-top with awful wings." Subtle characterization such as this elevates the reading of Simon to an almost supernatural state. Another example would be Simon's death when,

The water rose farther and dressed Simon’s coarse hair with brightness. The line of his cheek silvered and the turn of his shoulder became sculptured marble. The strange attendant creatures, with their fiery eyes and trailing vapors, busied themselves round his head.

The stark imagery of light surrounding Simon's hair alludes to the halo of Christian imagery. The "attendant creatures" detail brings forth the biblical story of angels attending to Jesus after his temptation by Satan. The marble imagery evokes pure white: a color often symbolizing purity, or, in many cases, Jesus Christ's purity.

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    Welcome to the site! This is a nice answer, but since you mention "there are a few lines of exposition and imagery that also add to the religious or Christ-like reading of Simon", could you quote some of these lines to help support your answer? There are very few book quotes in the other answers to this question so far, so it would really help your answer to stand out. – Rand al'Thor Feb 23 at 17:33
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    Thank you! I've edited to include some of those pieces of textual evidence. – R.D. Feb 24 at 14:50

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