Discuss William Golding's use of physical details and nature in Lord of the Flies.

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Jean Melek eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the boys are stranded on an undeveloped jungle island, there are of course a lot of descriptions of natural features and details throughout the novel.  It would be impossible to cover them all, but some things you could focus on:

1.  When the boys first crash land, some of them express a kind of happiness or joy at their predicament.  For example, Ralph does handstands to show how carefree he is.  Jack seems to be excited for the prospect of hunting.  In these early days, Golding describes the island as a kind of paradise.  You can imagine it as a kind of place you would pay a lot of money to go for your holiday.  But at the same time, the writer includes clues that the island is not the paradise it seems.  You can look for mention of Ralph's "snake-clasp" belt or the plants that look like skulls. 

2.  Some of the things that one finds in nature become very important parts of the boys' lives.  The wild pigs become a fixation of Jack's.  His hunt for them when he crawls along the jungle floor sniffing at their steamy droppings shows just how far and how fast the boys have come.  Another natural detail you might want to focus on is rocks.  There is the rock that the boys push down the hill in chapter 1, there are the rocks they throw at each other in a kind of violent play, and there is the rock that kills Piggy and destroys the conch.  Fire would be another natural motif you could examine. 

beatricehermia | Student

"Lord of the Flies" is an examination of nature as both a physical realm, which is represented by the island the boys crash land on, and as a sort of spiritual state, a.k.a., human nature, which is represented in the characters of Ralph and Jack, primarily.

The author, Willliam Golding, uses a lot of imagery to describe the island itself, as well as describe how the boys look, from the beginning of the novel to the end, to represent what is happening to them on the inside as well as the outside.

Some details you can look for and focus on:

  • How is the island described at the beginning of the novel, as seen through Ralph's eyes, compared to how he sees it towards the end? What kinds of adjectives does Golding use to create the feelings felt by the characters in certain situations? How is the weather described in certain situations? For example, how is the weather described during the night on the beach when Simon is killed? How is it described when Ralph and Piggy first meet?
  • How are the boys dressed at the beginning of the novel, and how are they dressed towards the end? What does that tell us about who, or what,  the boys have become?
  • Overall, look for phrases that create an image in your mind. For instance, how does Simon describe the Lord of the Flies? How does Simon describe his secret hiding place? What kinds of features does the island have that would make it seem a paradise, or a place of nightmares?




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Lord of the Flies

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