Civilization is the social behavior and intellectual refinement of a society. While savagery is a state of chaos, being uncivilized and having no place of morals and integrity.

William Golding’s “Lord of the Files”, shows the overarching theme of civilization to savagery. A group of young boys is found on a deserted island after a plane crash takes place. The boys gradually lose their identity and convert into savages. Golding displays this using symbolic characters and items.    As they accustom to the wild, barbaric jungle Piggy and Ralph discover a conch; “most obscurely, yet most powerfully there was the conch” (22). Ralph uses the conch to summon others, it granted him power and authority. Golding suggests the theme of civilization related to the conch.

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It has capability of keeping everyone civilized and humane because without it everyone would disintegrate.  Almost immediately the boys start a democracy “we ought to have a chief to decide things”. Showing that the children can naturally organize themselves. This implies they know that democracy is the most effective form of government.

Because they come from a civilized environment. Ralph takes power, taking the role of a leader; portraying the athletic, charismatic figure in the novel. While Jack represents the antagonist who symbolizes savagery and craves dominance.  Ralph is hopeful that the boys will be saved so he builds a fire at the mountaintop “they built a pyramid of leaves and twigs, branches and logs”(130). Golding connects the fire to civilization because they wish to be rescued. Subsequently Jack kills a big sow as an offering to the beast and cooks it over the fire while  “having a feast” and boasting to Ralph’s tribe. Jack demolishes Ralphs civilization and now shows manifestations of savagery demonstrated by his killing and random impulses.

Hence the fire is a symbol of both hope and destruction, demonstrating their change from being civilized to savage.    The knife was a very crucial symbol that demonstrated their savagery. Jack was determined to slaughter the pig “the terrified squealing became a high-pitched scream” (135) the more he dragged his knife.

As he failed to kill the pig previously, his obsession of killing the pig became more extreme. Golding displays the knife as an endless source of power, violence and atrocity; being all qualities of a savage society. Highlighted by Jack’s actions, continuously stabbing the pig with no doubts. The knife embodies the boys’ eternal savagery and growing ruthlessness. Golding implies symbolism to demonstrate how they gradually converted from being civilized to savage. Having been raised in a civilized community the boys struggle to adapt to the unfamiliar environment.

They use tools such as the conch and an established democracy to stay civil. Building the fire shows their civilized culture still remains. But their temptations overrule them, having the desire to kill; symbolized by the knife. The author connotes that being away from an adapted society can drive people to insanity; the symbols help show the loss of innocence and their change in society.

Continuously each symbol shows the decline in civilization and the increase in savageness.