Sunday, October 23, 2011

Literary Analysis: Lord of the Flies

1.       Lord of the Flies takes place on a mysterious island when the boys’ plane crashes onto it. They were heading towards England for boarding school when a storm turned for the worst and took down their plane. The boys are only in their adolescence stage of their life, so when the only adult they had (the pilot) dies from the crash, the boys are left to their own devices. There were four characters that stood out to me in the book: Ralph, Jack, Piggy and Simon. Each of these characters was a symbol for what power/chaos could do to you. Ralph and Jack fight over who should be the leader of the boys, since they are one of the older boys. They decide to vote for chief and Ralph only loses the votes of Jack’s fellow choirboys. Ralph and Jack have different strategies of “surviving”. Ralph wants to immediately start building a fire signal to get off the island, where as Jack wants to immerse himself in the wild. The group of boys are so young and inexperienced though that many accidents and mistakes occur. “The Beast” (a sighting the younger boys believe the saw) is also a prominent source of troubles for the boys. It causes much controversy and arguments about what to do with it if it even existed. These misfortunes led Jack and Ralph to have a showdown, both declaring themselves a better leader. Due to their differing opinions, Ralph and Piggy go off one way and Jack plus all the other boys make their own tribe. Jack and “his tribe” don’t want to go back home and believe that surviving in the wild is more enjoyable and liberating. They have let go of any rules of civilization and do as their animalistic instincts please. Ralph and Piggy realize this and know that Jack and his boys are going to come after them for vengeance (for not joining his tribe). Jack raids Ralph’s campsite for Piggy’s glass (their only tool for fire) and in the process of trying to get them, kill Piggy. They show no remorse for Piggy’s tragic demise, reinforcing the fact that these boys have let chaos take them over. Ralph knows he’s next and makes a plan to fight them off as long as possible. But during his plan, while running from Jack and his tribe along the shoreline, a sailor finds them. Once the boys get a sight of civilization (the sailor in uniform), they sober up. Jack and his boys stop hollering and feel a bit out of place and ashamed for their barbaric appearance. Ralph breaks down into tears of relief; he knows that he will be rescued now.

2.       The theme Golding was trying to achieve is that without the rules and structure of society, you enter into a world of chaos and anarchy.  The boys turned from innocent, proper English school boys to wild savages due to the absence of civilization.

3.       Golding’s tone was rather somber, but neutral.  Golding never hinted that he agreed more with Ralph on one thing and with Jack on another; he remained an impartial observer. It was also somewhat informative.  Not informative in a way to teach you facts and equations, more like a lecture from a mother to a child.  He was teaching us a lesson from a story. 

“He lost himself in a maze of thoughts that were rendered vague by his lack of words to express them.  Frowning, he tried again. 

        This meeting must not be fun, but business.”

        “But a came down from the world of grown-ups, though at the time there was no child awake to read it.  There was a sudden bright explosion and corkscrew trail across the sky; then darkness again and stars.”

        “Even if he shut his eyes the sow’s head remained like an after-image.  The half-shut eyes were dim with infinite cynicism of adult life.  They assured Simon that everything was a bad business.”

4.       SymbolismLord of the Flies was filled with symbols.  The sow’s head symbolized the devil; the passing of Simon represented the death of innocence and civility in the boys, etc.

Descriptive Paragraphs – Golding also used long, graphic paragraphs for what was going on.  He put the reader in the character’s shoes, so you could visualize what they were doing, what they were feeling, etc.

Allegories – This was obviously the biggest literary device Golding used in his novel.  Every single one of his character represented something: Ralph stood for the good and civilization they all yearned for, Jack represented the evil that resulted from lack of society, Simon signified the innocence and good in people and so on and so forth.

Metaphors - Golding often uses metaphor in this book. In fact, all symbolism is a type of metaphor since they compare two unlike things. Other metaphors in the book was when Golding described the choir boy at the beginning of the book as a dark creature crawling along the sand.

Syntax – Golding write in simple, easy to read sentences.  They are filled with description and action, but they are not difficult to read. 

        “’I ought to be chief,’ said Jack with simple arrogance, ‘because I’m chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp.”

        “Ralph stirred uneasily. Simon, sitting between the twins and Piggy, wiped his mouth and shoved his piece of meat over the rocks to Piggy, who grabbed it. The twins giggled and Simon lowered his face in shame.”

        “It was dark; there was that -- that bloody dance. There was lightning and thunder and rain. We were scared!”


  1. What does this book say about human nature? Why do you think it's become such a popular choice for high school reading (and AP exams)?

  2. The plot of this novel reminds me of the t.v. series "Lost." In that series, a plane full of doctors, lawyers, and everyday people crashes on a foreign island. The people are forces to fend for themselves, and in the process their true colors shine through.