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William Golding's Lord of the Flies the theme of Appearance vs. Reality runs throughout the narrative. It is introduced as Ralph looks around and is
forced at last to believe in the reality of the island laughed delightedly again and stood on his head....Here at last was the imagined but never fully realized place leaping into real life.
This delight and "vivid phantoms of his day-dream" stands in sharp contrast to the reality of Ralph's tearful acknowledgement of the loss of innocence at the novel's conclusion.
Later in Chapter One as the boys explore the island, Golding writes that they come upon a pink granite
stack of balanced rock projecting through the looped fantasy of the forest creepers. Where the pink cliffs rose out of the ground there were often narrow track winding upwards.
This illusion of tropical beauty is later disturbed by the reality of hunting the pigs who have made these trails, and the killing of Piggy by the jetting of one of the great pink boulders, just like the one which shakes "as with the passage of an enraged monster" when the boys push it off onto his head in this chapter. The forest creepers, "the curtain of creepers," are not a fantasy, but rather symbolic of the insidious evil of the atavistic evil lying in the souls of the civilized boys.
This theme of Appearance vs. Reality runs throughout Golding's narrative: In Chapter Two Jack "passes like a shadow under the darkness of the tree." Also representative of the theme are the references to the bright beach where the sun is blinding, the "illusions of the lagoon" in Chapter Three and the bathing pool where the boys meet in comaradery. In fact, the prevalent light/dark imagery suggests the dfference between illusion and reality. For instance, Golding alludes to the reflection of light upon Piggy's glasses ("the flash of Piggy's glasses in Chapter Four) and the "opaque look in Jack's eyes" (4) In this same chapter, Golding writes,
They grew accustomed to these mysteries and ignored them, just as they ignored the miraculous throbbing stars. At midday the illusion merged into the sky and the sun gazed down like an angry eye....menaced by the coming of the dark. When the sun sank, darkness dropped on the island like an extinguisher and soon the shelter...
In other passages, Golding alludes to the flash of Piggy's glasses in contrast to the opaque
Certainly the description of the sadistic Roger in Chapter Four underlies the deception of civilization. For, while Roger does not hit little Henry at whom he throws stones--"that object of preposterous time"--once the vestiges of civilization erode, the reality of Roger's intrinsic evil is evidenced in his slaughter of Piggy, the rational being.
The recognition of the dilemma of what is real and what is not is clearly evidenced in Ralph's thoughts in Chapter Four as he rolls on his stomach and
...pretended not to see. The mirages had died away and gloomily he ran his eye along the taut blue line of the horizon. In Chapter Five, Ralph waits as he has called a late afternoon meeting:
They had never had an assembly as late before. That was why the place looked so different. Normally the underside of the green roof was lit by a tangle of golden reflections, and their faces were lit upside down [appearance]...But now the sun was slanting in at one side, so the shadows were where they ought to be [reality]
Again he fell into that strange mood of speculation....If faces were different when lit from above or below--what was a face? What was anything?
Of course, the Beast, the Lord of the Flies, is the most salient emblem of the theme of Appearance vs. Reality. For, the boys attribute different forms to him: a snake, something in the sky, and the pig's head. Only Simon recognizes the true nature of the "beast":
"You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?"
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