Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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In Chapter 1 of Lord of the Flies, why are some of the boys fully-clothed, while others are not?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In chapter one, a group of adolescent British schoolboys crash-lands on an uninhabited tropical island somewhere in the Pacific after their plane is shot out of the sky. It is extremely hot on the tropical island, which is why some of the boys choose to remove their clothes. Most notably, Ralph feels the weight of his sweat-soaked shirt and proceeds to disrobe towards the beginning of the chapter. Ralph is depicted as an athletic-looking, adolescent as he stands completely naked on top of the terrace. After blowing into the conch, the other boys on the island begin to assemble. Jack and his choir boys wear black caps and carry their clothes in their hands instead of wearing them. As the novel progresses, the lack of clothing parallels the boys' descent into savagery as they begin painting their faces and bodies. Overall, some of the boys decide to disrobe because of the extreme heat. They are not used to the unforgiving tropical climate and disrobe to make themselves more comfortable.

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Chapter One, some of the boys are fully-clothed while others are not, because of the intense heat of the South Pacific climate of the island where the boys are located.  The boys had been traveling via plane from their home country of England, still clothed in their traditional school uniforms.  After crash-landing on the island, the boys quickly realize that their uniforms are ill-suited to the oppressive heat of the jungle and begin to strip down to fewer articles of clothing.  Ralph exemplifies this in the first opening lines of the novel:

"Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, [...] all around him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat" (7). 

As the other boys enter the scene, Golding portrays them in various states of undress as well to emphasize the immediate effects of the harsh, savage environment on the constructs of civilization such as school uniforms.

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