Original Research

Good grief: Lord of the Flies as a post-war rewriting of salvation history

M. van Vuuren
Literator | Vol 25, No 2 | a253 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v25i2.253 | © 2004 M. van Vuuren | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 July 2004 | Published: 31 July 2004

About the author(s)

M. van Vuuren, Department of English, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Full Text:

PDF (121KB)


Golding’s Lord of the Flies, first published in 1954, reflects a bleak sense of post-war pessimism. But with undue attention focused on its portrayal of original sin and the problem of evil, readings have often remained reductive. In this article it is argued that the novel’s symbolic narrative is polysemic and, when it is read as anagogic myth, may be seen to span Judaeo-Christian Heilsgeschichte or salvation history, rewriting its chapters of creation, Fall, the problem of evil, the failure of law, the hope of salvation, the mission of a messianic figure, and – in the clearest departure from the Biblical narrative – an ambiguous representation of his return. This study examines the novel’s often paradoxical symbolism using Frye’s phases of anagogic myth, with its poles of apocalyptic and demonic imagery. It traces the relation of symbols to their counterparts in Biblical narratives, drawn in particular from the symbolic writings of the origin and end of humanity, to elucidate Golding’s bleak but certainly not hopeless rewriting of the salvation story for a post-faith readership.


William Golding; Lord Of The Flies; Biblical Parallels; Post-War Pessimism; Salvation History; A Rewriting


Total abstract views: 9138
Total article views: 9803


Crossref Citations

1. ‘’ Lord of the Flies as an Allegorical and Symbolic Novel’’
Mohammed Nasif Jasim Mohammed
Journal of Tikrit University for Humanities  vol: 28  issue: 11  first page: 86  year: 2021  
doi: 10.25130/jtuh.28.11.2021.25