What do the naval officier's arrival and the island's destruction symbolize?Golding's message is a pessimistics one.

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coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the novel 'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding, the author winds up the conclusion of the story in a vivid way by having the castaways rescued in a military style - when I say military I refer of course to the Navy. This is interesting, but pessimistic, because it highlights the fact that the boys have been fighting a sort of a war which makes them look 'uncivilized' but the naval officer is also engaged in warfare. The boys look dirty, dishevelled, disordered and distressed. The naval officer looks pristine with his gleaming uniform and shiny buttons and is cool calm and collected in his emotions and is in sharp relief against the contrast of the chaotic boys. Yet Golding is pessimistic for our future - the officer and the naval vessel in the background are engaged in the same 'game' - War.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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In the book "The Lord of the Flies" the Island started out as a paradise.  It was beautiful and unspoiled.  The first indication of man's presence was the scar that the plane part left when it landed with the boys.  The boys try to create a fire to draw rescuers and accidentally burn part of the forest.  The boys brake branches to make huts and kills pigs for food.

The island's destruction marks the way in which man civilizes a place and leaves his mark.  Although the children did not behave very civil, they still brought civilization/humans to the island which changed the environment.

The man arriving on the island sees the boys and believes they were playing.  It is irony that he sees that when the boys were trying to kill Ralph.  The other reality that the reader has is that the boys went to paradise and there was no civility and they are going to return to a civilization that ahs been destroyed by some type of apocalyptic event.


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mstokes | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Ralph’s tense, exciting stand against the hunters and  the ending of Lord of the Flies is filled with irony. Ralph had thought the signal fire,a symbol of civilization and attention to order and duty,was the only way to attract rescuers. Ironically, although it is indeed a fire that attracts a ship to the island, it is not an ordered, controlled signal fire but rather the haphazard forest fire the band of hunters have set to kill Ralph. In this context ti is a symbol of the total breakdown of “civilised” society on the island.

The irony engendered in the image of the fire is amplified by Golding’s portrayal of the naval officer. Although the naval officer saves Ralph, the ending of Lord of the Flies still is not a happy one, and the moment in which the officer encounters the boys is not one of joy. The officer comments that he is unable to understand how British lads could have acted in such  a way.The irony stems from the fact that this “civilised” officer is himself part of an adult world in which violence and war are an accepted part of life. He reacts to the children with disgust, yet the reader redognises his hypocrisy. The children are so shocked by the officer’s presence, and are now psychologically so far removed from his world, that they do not instantly celebrate his arrival. They stand before him confused and bewildered. Ralph, whose life is saved by his arrival, weeps tears of grief for the terrible events he has witnessed, his “loss of innocence” and the death of his friend Piggy.


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