In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, what falls from the sky while everyone is asleep?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Chapter six of Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, is called "Beast from the Air." This "beast" is actually a parachutist who has apparently ejected himself from his plane during a battle near the island. 

All the boys are sleeping restlessly, but if they had been looking they would have seen him against the light of the moon. Golding says:  

a sign 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 andstars. There was a speck above the island, a figure dropping swiftly beneath a parachute, a figure that hung with dangling limbs.

The wind begins to blow and the dead parachutist is at its mercy. The wind carries him to the side of the mountain and slides him up, through flowers and foliage, until he settles at the top of the mountain, the lines of his parachute entangled in the rocks and greenery. Even then he is not allowed to rest peacefully.

When the breeze blew, the lines would strain taut and some accident of this pull lifted the head and chest upright so that the figure seemed to peer across the brow of the mountain. Then, each time the wind dropped, the lines would slacken and the figure bow forward again, sinking its head between its knees. So as the stars moved across the sky, the figure sat on the mountain-top and bowed and sank and bowed again.

This parachutist is a reminder (a sign) both of the outside world which is in war (much like the boys will soon be engaged in) and the reality that it is the boys themselves who are the beasts on this island. 


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