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The opening passage of the ‘Lord of the Flies’, by William Golding, gives the reader an
idea of the events to come in the rest of the novel. With the use of foreshadowing, which
is used throughout the novel, Golding gives clues that become clearer once the reader
finishes the novel. The descriptions of the boys also set up their characters and
personalities that become known as the novel develops.
The novel is about a group of boys who become stranded on an island without any adults
and therefore without any sense of order or discipline. The boys are excited about this and
begin their adventure with rules and organisation but as the novel progresses they soon
forget about the importance of the rules. The island is no longer a paradise and they
Golding is illustrating that
Ralph is introduced at the beginning and becomes a main character. He is described as
‘The boy with fair hair’. The word ‘fair’ shows that Ralph is a kind, honest person, which
is revealed throughout. Ralph is popular straight away with the other boys. He shows
leadership as ‘every hand’ went up to elect him. When the boys agree to three people
exploring the island Ralph takes ‘Jack and, and… Simon’ with him for a reason. He takes
Simon to make him feel better after he fainted when they all met. He asks Jack along to
compensate for not being leader. He also gives Jack leadership over the choir for the
same reason. Giving Jack this power though leads to trouble as Jack has different ideas.
He wants to have fun rather than find away to get off the island, which is Ralph’s priority.
A main theme of the novel is the boys’ decent into savagery. The boys gradually loose all
sense of civilisation. The ‘school sweater’ reminds us that this boy is from a civilised
world where there is discipline and order. Ralph had ‘taken off his school sweater’ and
later the other boys remove their clothes showing that they are already starting to abandon
civilisation. When Jack forms his tribe they live like savages. They have ‘painted faces’
and hunt violently for meat.
The boys have forgotten about the outside world and are no longer worried about getting
off the island. Jack soon believes that hunting is more important than the fire, which is
their only way of being rescued. There is an incident when the hunters let the fire go out
in order to go hunting and a ship comes along. Ralph is devastated but Jack doesn’t seem
to understand. This is the beginning of the relationship between Ralph and Jack
Piggy is the next character to be introduced. He is described as ‘shorter’, ‘very fat’ while
wearing ‘thick spectacles’. He is a complete contrast to Ralph who is an attractive boy
who could ‘make a boxer’. Later while Ralph is running around and swimming, Piggy is
watching and complaining about his ‘asthma’. There are clear differences between them,
as they don’t appear to get on at first. When Piggy asks Ralph his name, Ralph doesn’t
pay him the same interest. By the end of the novel though, they stick together once the
tribes have split and when Piggy is murdered Ralph realises he has lost a good friend;
‘Ralph wept for…his wise friend called Piggy.’ The fact that Piggy is described not by his
name but by his size is significant throughout the novel. He is different straight away and
unlike Ralph he doesn’t fit in with the other boys. Jack and the others often laugh at him
and pick on him. He is later known as ‘fatty’ and then ‘piggy’ but his actual name is never
At first impressions the island appears to be a paradise but there are certain things that
suggest the island has a darker atmosphere. The ‘scar’ is the first negative image that
appears. ‘A bird’ appears that is described as ‘a vision of red and yellow’ but has a
‘witch-like cry’. It looks pretty but it has a harsh sound so what appears to be positive on
the outside isn’t.
Initially the island appears to be a paradise. There are many positive adjectives to suggest
this such as ‘dazzling’, ‘tropical’ and ‘glittering’.
As soon as the novel begins there are signs that ‘man’ has already damaged the island. It
appears to be a paradise and yet the crash caused the ‘long scar’. This is the start of the
destruction of the island that is to come. The scar is ‘all round him’. The alliteration ‘scar
smashed’ emphasises the harsh image. As the novel progresses the boys abuse the island.
An example of this is when the boys set the island on fire.
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