Lord of the Flies: Character Profiles
|Lord of the Flies|
Jack: Jack is described by Golding as "tall, thin, and bony; and his hair was red beneath the black cap. His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of this face stared two light blue eyes, frustrated now, and turning, or ready to turn, to anger."
Jack is the leading advocate of anarchy on the island. Jack is the leader of the savage tribe which hunts the pigs. Opposed to Ralph and Piggy on almost all matters, Jack represents the id of one’s personality— he supports the notion that one’s desires are most important and should be followed, regardless of reason or morals.
Jack is the kind of person which Golding believed everyone would eventually become if left alone to set one’s own standards and live the way one naturally wanted. Golding believed that the natural state of humans is chaos and that man is inherently evil. When reason is abandoned, only the strong survive. Jack personifies this idea perfectly.
Piggy: Piggy is described by Golding as short and very fat. It’s no coincidence that Piggy’s nickname is such; the overwhelming emotion Jack and his hunters have to "kill the pig" is an indirect and clever author metaphor to suggest the boys are also killing a part of Piggy. In fact, while Jack and his gang continue to kill more pigs, the logic and reason which Piggy symbolizes progressively diminishes with the pigs. Piggy’s hair never grows, suggesting that he is not vulnerable to the progression of savagery the other boys seem to be drawn towards.
Piggy represents the law and order of the adult world. He is the superego, the part of man’s personality which attempts to act according to an absolute set of standards. Throughout the novel, Piggy attempts to condition the island society to mirror the society they all lived in in England. Piggy’s continual references to his auntie demonstrate this philosophy. He tries to pull Ralph towards the reason-oriented side of human nature.
Piggy is obsessed with the signal-fire. This is because he wants to return to England where adults are, but also because the fire is one of the only symbols of order on the island. When the fire goes out, Piggy mentally collapses.
Ralph: Ralph is the main protagonist of the novel; he has fair hair and is very tall and thin. Jack is the only other character who is close in physical stature to Ralph. This is appropriate since these characters represent two competing philosophies of life on the island.
Golding uses Ralph do represent the perfect human— someone who does good but isn’t so out-of-touch that he can’t relate to normal human temptations. This is the Ralph of the beginning of the novel. Later, however, Ralph grows distant from Piggy, the good side, and grows closer to Jack, the anarchical side of human nature.
In his way, Ralph represents the ego of the human personality. He must compromise both the id (the ‘if it feels good do it’ attitude of Jack) and the superego (the strict adherence to the logic and order of the adult world symbolized through Piggy).
After Piggy’s death, Ralph finds it impossible to determine what action to take next. This goes along with Golding’s view that if left alone, human nature will naturally be pulled to the id side of one’s personality.
Roger: Roger becomes a self-proclaimed torturer and executioner for Jack and the rest of the tribe. Even at the beginning of the book when Roger throws stones at Henry, Golding shows that the seed of anarchy has taken root and is spreading in the hunter’s mind. Roger symbolizes man’s natural tendency to cause harm to others.
Sam & Eric: These twins represent the need humans have for moral support from others. Sam and Eric are so connected that they must do everything together. As soon as one of them takes an action, the other follows. Both twins respect Ralph because he offers them a sense of security. Sam n’ Eric’s main job throughout the novel is to tend the fire.
Soon, however, when the sense of security Ralph provides is threatened by Jack and his hunters, Samneric decide to join Jack’s tribe (after they are threatened). Later, they even betray Ralph, showing his hiding place to the others. In this way, Samneric symbolize the weakness of human nature. When really pressed, these twins decide to join the dark side.
Simon: Simon is described by Golding as one of the in-between boys-- a "skinny, vivid little boy" with straight, coarse black hair. Simon shares the experiences of both the littluns and the older boys. He has the innocent perceptions and feelings of littluns but the knowledge of the biguns.
However, Simon is alienated from the rest of the group. He takes life much more seriously than the others, being plagued with a certain moral consciousness which the other boys don’t understand. Simon has a heightened perception, even more so than Piggy. Simon is unique because he can actually hear the voice of the beast. He realizes that the beast is not something one can kill because it’s inside the boys.
Most importantly, Simon makes the connection between the dead parachutist and the Lord of the Flies. He understands that with the death of the man in the parachute which symbolizes the death of reason, the chaos of the Lord of the Flies is free to reign supreme.
Lastly, Simon is seen as a Christ figure. He gives up his own life in an attempt to tell the rest of the boys about the beast. Yet when he crawls out of the forest, Jack and his hunters see him as the beast, and murder his body which floats out to sea.