Castle Rock in Lord of the Flies

Instructor: Lauren Posey

Lauren has taught intermediate reading in an English Language Institute, and she has her Master's degree in Linguistics.

Objects in literature can be more important than they might seem on the surface. They can serve as symbols. In this lesson, you will look at the importance and symbolism of Castle Rock in 'Lord of the Flies.'

Symbolism

Sometimes in literature, an object represents more than you might think when coming across it initially. This is called symbolism. For example, a sword in a story might represent power, rather than simply being a weapon. Or a fresh blanket of white snow might represent cleanliness or purity.

Symbolism is an important and widespread literary device, and we see it used in William Golding's Lord of the Flies, a novel about boys stranded on a beach and vying for power and survival. One prominent example of this is Castle Rock.

Description and Discovery

Castle Rock on its own is not particularly imposing or noteworthy. It is a semi-circular cave, surrounded by rocks. There is fresh water nearby, which is important for its use as a fort. In addition, some of the rocks are at angles where they could be pushed onto the path, making it a very defensible location.

Ralph and Jack are two boys who have leadership qualities, Ralph rational, and Jack aggressive. Together they discover Castle Rock when they are searching the unexplored part of the island to try and find the beast. Jack immediately remarks on it, saying 'What a place for a fort!' His remark foreshadows how important Castle Rock will be to him later in the novel, when he chooses it as his base. At the time the remark is made in passing, and they continue on their way. However, it is still an important moment to note, since it is the first time Castle Rock is seen or mentioned.

A short while later, the other boys join them and see Castle Rock as well. They want to stay, but Ralph makes them move on so they can continue their search for the beast. This makes the boys unhappy, and adds to their growing dislike of Ralph as chief. This is the first point where we see Castle Rock representing Jack's growing power, and Ralph's weakening authority.

The Seat of Power

Castle Rock truly symbolizes Jack's power. When Ralph is still in charge, Castle Rock is only mentioned in passing. However, as soon as Jack leaves Ralph's group to start his own, Castle Rock is the base he chooses. From that point on we see a lot more of Castle Rock, since Jack operates from there for the rest of the novel.

The seclusion and setup of Castle Rock helps emphasize Jack's power as well. It is easily guarded, and this allows him to personally monitor who goes in and out of his base. This ability gives him more concrete power than he might have had in a different location. The fact that he can go in and out of Ralph's base at will also illustrates this. Jack can control his base, but Ralph cannot. This is another example of how Castle Rock symbolizes and adds to Jack's increasing power.

In addition, everything that happens at Castle Rock enhances Jack's power. His commands are the only ones followed, and they are always followed. Even Piggy's accidental death emphasizes Jack's authority, as Piggy was still on Ralph's side. Jack reacts as though it were planned, exclaiming 'See? See? That's what you'll get! I meant that! There isn't a tribe for you any more!' Jack is stating here that Piggy's death shows that Ralph has no authority anymore. This is even more powerful since it happened at Castle Rock, the seat of Jack's power.

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