In the Lord of the Flies by William Golding, a group of young boys are stranded on a tropical island after an airplane crash. Although the novel is packed with philosophical themes, the most prominent of them all is how and why ingenuousness is lost. Golding demonstrates that the existence of civilization and stability allows man to remain innocent, and shows that innocence is destroyed when rules are broken and when evil seeps in by using symbols and motifs such as butterflies, pigs, and Simon.
In this novel, butterflies represent freedom from sin as a result of a lack of knowledge of evil. The butterfly is a delicate, brittle creature that flits around, avoiding harm of any kind and is easily destroyed by harm. In this sense, the butterfly duplicates the image of innocence entirely. Innocence is also beautiful yet fragile, and is damaged by the smallest sign of corruption. When Simon first discovers the Lord of the Flies who is the symbol of degeneracy and evil, “even the butterflies [desert] the open space where the obscene thing [grins] and [drips]” (138). The butterflies, symbolizing innocence, flee from the hideous sight, leaving Simon alone with the hideous, vile pig’s head. This incident is an example of how innocence is lost when stability is destroyed because Simon’s ingenuousness is interrupted by undiluted sin in the form of a pig’s head. This “obscene thing” chases away innocence so it can be alone with Simon. What more, the butterflies are replaced by “a black blob of flies that [buzz] like a saw” (138). These flies are “black and iridescent green and without number” (138). This quote represents that when innocence is lost, malignity is quick to replace it, symbolized by the flies. The flies are “black and iridescent” – black because it is the universally accepted color of evil and iridescent because evil can come in many angles, forms, and colors. The flies are “without number” because once innocence is lost, the mass of evil is tremendous and growing.