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In Chapter 12 of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, which of the following best...

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LivingFiction | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 26, 2013 at 11:29 PM via web

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In Chapter 12 of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, which of the following best describes the function of the sentence "He turned... the island." (at the end of the paragraph beginning "When he had eaten..")?

a. It counterbalances the negativism of the previous sentence.

b. It reveals the extent of Ralph's physical wounds.

c. It depicts action in an otherwise introspective paragraph.

d. It reinforces Ralph's refusal to be intimidated by events.

e. It indicates that Ralph has made his decision.

I've asked this question before, but I've been getting a lot of different answers. Out of all the answer choices I think A, D, and E are the better choices. Answer choice A is correct, but D and E could also be correct. I originally thought the answer was D because in an earlier paragraph, it seemed like Ralph had already made his decision. I'm just not too sure.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 30, 2013 at 9:37 PM (Answer #1)

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This quote occurs in the final chapter of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, and the answer is not clear-cut. This is the type of question which is best suited to a short answer or essay format, rather than a cut-and-dried multiple choice answer, because it is ambiguous, at best. It is possible to arrive at a best answer; unfortunately (as you have discovered), that may be different for multiple readers and educators.

The paragraph from which your quote is extracted is as follows:

When he had eaten he went toward the beach. The sunlight was slanting now into the palms by the wrecked shelter. There was the platform and the pool. The best thing to do was to ignore this leaden feeling about the heart and rely on their common sense, their daylight sanity. Now that the tribe had eaten, the thing to do was to try again. And anyway, he couldn’t stay here all night in an empty shelter by the deserted platform. His flesh crept and he shivered in the evening sun. No fire; no smoke; no rescue. He turned and limped away through the forest toward Jack’s end of the island.

Choices B and C do not seem to be likely, or at least the most likely, choices from the list you were given. Choice A does not seem reasonable, since there are three rather depressing (negative) sentences which come before it, and one does not counterbalance three, especially three filled with significant details. 

That leaves D and E, and neither of them seem reasonable to me, given the fact that Ralph is soon in hiding, too frightened to even approach Jack and his fort. He asks himself if he dares to approach Castle Rock:

Daylight might have answered yes; but darkness and the horrors of death said no. Lying there in the darkness, he knew he was an outcast.

It is true that he does go toward the fort, but not until he ascertains that it is Samneric (who at least want to be loyal to Ralph) who are on guard. I see no clear plan or decision which moves Ralph to action, so I will reluctantly add my vote for D. It seems to me that he goes toward Castle Rock because he does not know where else to go, not because he has a grand plan of reconciliation or any real hope to change the way things are. Ralph is an optimist, and he only keeps moving because he is unwilling to capitulate to defeat. 


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