Any of several mammals of the family Suidae, having short legs, cloven hooves, bristly hair, and a cartilaginous snout used for digging, especially the domesticated hog, Sus scrofa domesticus, when young or of comparatively small size. Even though a pig is one animal, they have several symbolic meanings. The various meanings of pigs change from region or culture though. In an earlier culture such as the Ancient Egyptians the pig was a symbol for fertility. Here, the pig was sacred to Isis, a fertility goddess of the Ancient Egyptians. In many other cultures the pig represents strength, and vitality. In the Native American culture the Indians would use a pig to sacrifice to the rain Gods in order for their crops to grow. This is another example of pigs being used to represent growth and fertility. Pigs are not always viewed as a good thing though. In the Jewish and Islamic cultures pigs are viewed as unclean and therefore they are forbidden to eat pork.
And in an interesting note, in dream symbolism domestic pigs indicate fertility but a wild pig represents overindulgence and lust. This relates to Lord of the Flies in the sense that Jack never wanted to give up his passion for hunting. He became greedy and his desire to hunt inevitably lead to the separation of the group. In the Christian religion pigs are associated with gluttony. In Lord of the Flies Simon is the Christ like figure and when he views the decaying pig head he becomes nauseated. Christians believe that a pig is in common relation with the Devil. In Lord of the Flies it shows the struggle between good and evil, Christianity and the devil. Jack and his followers use the pig as a sacrifice to the “Beast” and this is an example of the loss of religion in the novel. This is another reason why a pig is not considered a positive thing in Christianity because the main reason Jesus came around was due to the overwhelming practice of sacrificial acts to Pagan Gods.
When Jack renews this blasphemous act, Simon was killed shortly after which confirmed the loss of religious values on the island. Here are examples from the bible prohibiting the digestion pigs. “Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch, they are unclean to you.”(Leviticus 11:7-8) and “And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you. Ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass.”(Deuteronomy 14:8). In folklore, superstitious sailors would not sail on a boat with a pig aboard. And often time’s sailors would refuse the admittance of pigs on their vessels. Sailors associated the hooves on pigs to the hooves on the devil. Because of this bad omen, if a sailor were to see a pig on their way to work, they would rather turn around and go home.
This further explains the theme of the devil in Lord of the Flies. Even though it seems impossible for evil to be involved with young boys, it certainly was proven in this novel. Simon was an innocent little boy and when he was in the jungle the Lord of the Flies was talking to him. Obviously, the pig’s head was NOT talking to him but it shows that Simon’s subconscious talking to him. This shows that even the most innocent has an innate sense of evil in them. When Simon is in the jungle, this is when the reader realizes that the “beast” is not an external force but that it is part of the boys themselves, which is even more frightening. “Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill! Ö You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you?” (p. 143).
In Lord of the Flies the pig represents the evil that lies within every person, innocent or not. The pig becomes a game, no longer being a hunt for sustenance. As mentioned earlier, Jack wanted more. He became greedy and his hunts led all of the boys to shift from being playful little boys to savages. That is why in the Christian religion pigs are not appreciated. They are unclean, which in the novel the pig is described as disgusting with the flies hovering around it and black grime in its teeth. The Muslim religion views the pig in the same manner. It is interesting though to compare the thoughts of modern religions to the ancient ideas of pigs. In the ancient cultures like the Greeks, Egyptians and Romans the pig was seen as a fertile being and therefore they were heavily worshiped in order for their own people to experience the gift of fruitful abundance.
The literal translation of the Lord of Flies is Beelzebub which is Hebrew for the Devil. The Lord of the Flies has the theme of religion in it, and the pig’s head plays an important part in allowing the shift of innocence to evil to be seen easily to the reader. Due to the many symbolic meanings of pigs in various cultures, there is no definite idea of what a pig stands for. In Lord of the flies though, the pig demonstrates the evil that each of the boys was capable of undergoing.
Courtney from Study Moose
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