What do the butterflies symbolise in Lord of the Flies?
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Ideas so far: Purity, innocence, fragility of the soul.
I noticed they're only described when Simon alone is present. What does this tell us about him/represent? Deeper meaning?
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I think that in Lord of the Flies, butterflies represent the dependability of nature, which juxtaposes the undependability of the boys – while nature stays the same, the boys change and become more savage.
This however changes completely, from the sentence:
"Even the butterflies deserted the open space where this obscene thing [the Lord of the Flies] grinned and dripped."
Which can be found on page 151, when Simon speaks with the Lord of the Flies. This shows that the pig’s head is too unnatural and scary for the butterflies, showing that butterflies represent nature.
As Hoosierette says, the butterflies could symbolise purity and innocence, which is why they don’t appear while the Lord of the Flies does.
On page 58, the butterflies also appear:
"Nothing moved but a pair of gaudy butterflies that danced round each other in the hot air.”
This almost sounds as if the butterflies are mocking the boys’ inability to adapt, as while the butterflies are happy in the ‘hot air’, the boys are sweaty and thirsty. Another interpretation could be that the butterflies also show the simplicity of nature in comparison with the hard work of building huts and arguing and wanting meat. In conjunction to this, the word ‘gaudy’ almost makes nature seem to be showing-off, which could link with the idea that Simon knows the island’s secrets while the rest of the boys are in the dark.
Lord of the Flies is open to interpretation, so there isn’t really a right or wrong – it’s all down to opinions.
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Thank you very much!