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How is the boy with the mulberry birthmark important to the story of Lord of the Flies?
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High School Teacher
The boys of Lord of the Flies are faced with a terrible situation. Stranded on an island, having no preparation or training, the boys must survive and hope for rescue. Survival is not automatic, however, as the boy with the mulberry birthmark proves.
Early in the story, the boys call their first meeting and decide that a fire must be lit to signal passing ships or planes and secure a rescue. In lighting the signal fire, the boys accidentally ignite a fire that burns an entire section of the island. Small children and older children are caught up in the excitement of the fire but one child is lost.
He dies in the fire, we must presume, because he does not reappear later.
The nature of the boys' situation is clearly presented in the example of the little boy with the birthmark. If they are to survive, they must be careful and hold to some rules of order. It the frantic and nearly animal glee of lighting one fire, a human being was lost. The same could happen to others if the boys are not careful and, of course, the same does happen as Jack's band of boys reverts later to the animalistic wildness that caused this first fatality on the island.
In losing the little boy to death, we can say that the group ought to lose its innocence at this point and realize that their time on the island will not be play time but rather a serious attempt at survival. The boys, however, successfully manage to suppress thoughts on the child with the birthmark.
This purposeful ignorance is a theme in the novel. Ralph and Piggy are each included in the apparent effort to forget about the death in the group. Facing this, the boys might not have the courage to continue on.
As the boy with the birthmark is the first in the group also to mention the "beasties" on the island, he can be seen in relation to the beast that resides within the boys themselves, which Simon references later. He stands as a sign of the weakest elements of the boys' spirit, open to fear; ready to ignore real danger.
Posted by e-martin on June 22, 2012 at 10:31 PM (Answer #1)
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