"But a sign came down from the world of grownups, though at the time there was no child awake to read it."What does the quote "But a sign came down from the world of grownups, though at the time...

"But a sign came down from the world of grownups, though at the time there was no child awake to read it."

What does the quote "But a sign came down from the world of grownups, though at the time there was no child awake to read it" represent?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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At the beginning of Chapter Six of "Lord of the Flies," a pilot has jumped from his plane, hoping to find safety only to be shot down by more enemy fire.  His bloodied body lands in the trees and is mistakenly thought by the boys to be the "beast."  As lights pop in the sky, "a sign came down from the world of grown-ups" that all was not right in the world.  However, there "was no child awake to read it," no child intuitive enough like Simon to understand the "evil that men do" in wartime. The corpse of the parachutist rocks in the wind, sinking and bobbing

So as the stars moved across the sky, the figure sat on the mountain-top and bowed and sank and bowed again.

As is the case in the latter part of the novel, Golding juxtaposes the horrors of war with the atrocities that the boys as warriors commit. Both commit acts of savagery, impaling their victims to bleed and decay. This action has been repeated over and over in history, just as the figure of the slain parachutist bows and sinks and bows and sinks, like the waves of the eternal oceans.

lentzk's profile pic

Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

This quote defines an interesting moment in the novel.  Golding has just described an aerial fire-fight in the skies near the boys' island.  Golding uses a celestial metaphor, comparing the moving lights of the fighter planes to stars, so when the "sign came down from the world of grownups," the moment resembles a 'wish on a shooting star.'  The boys have made this wish for grown-up intervention and that night is full of 'shooting stars;' but true to the theme of decay on the island, the boys' wish is not fulfilled in the way they truly desire.  Instead of getting true grown-up help, they receive a dead man that, in their eyes, resembles a terrifying beast. 

italy12's profile pic

italy12 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

what does the quote "But a sign came down from the world of grownups, though at the time there was no child awake to read it." represent?

Ralph, Simon and Piggy are talking at the end of Chapter 5 about how they want a sign from the grown-ups, because, "they wouldn't quarrel....or break my specs...or talk about a beast."

In Chapter 6, that sign from the adult world arrives, a downed pilot, yet it is early in the morning and nobody is awake at this point. A lot of the action that takes place later in the novel is caused indirectly by the downed pilot. If Roger, Jack, and Ralph do not find this pilot in Chapter 7, then we can assume they wouldn't be as frightened as they are later on when they do their "dance" in Chapter 9...to protect themselves from the rain and the beast.

Simon, on the other hand, finds the pilot and wants to go warn the boys, leading to his demise. Although he is warned by the Lord of the Flies, he goes anyway, thus proving his theory: that the beast is within them.

Furthermore, at the end of the novel, when the naval officer arrives with his cruiser, we realize that the people who come to rescue the boys are involved in their own war in the real world, the "adult-world," the same world that Ralph and Piggy and Simon had hoped would send a positive message.

If a child had been awake at the point in Chapter 6 when the pilot lands on the island, perhaps some of these events might have been averted.

ugafreek1234's profile pic

ugafreek1234 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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what does the quote "But a sign came down from the world of grownups, though at the time there was no child awake to read it." represent?

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