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Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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What word could describe the setting of this passage in chapter 6 of Lord of the Flies?

He was surrounded on all sides by chasms of empty air. There was nowhere to hide, even if one did not have to go on. He paused on the narrow neck and looked down. Soon, in a matter of centuries, the sea would make an island of the castle. On the right hand was the lagoon, troubled by the open sea; and on the left - Ralph shudered. The lagoon had protected them from the Pacific: and for some reason, only Jack had gone right down to the water on the other side. Now he saw the landman's view of the swell and it seemed like the breathing of some stupendous creature. Slowly the waters sank among the rocks, revealing pink tables of granite, strange growth of corals, polyp and weed. Down, down, the waters went, whispering like the wind among the heads of the forest. There was one flat rock there, spread like a table, and the waters sucking down on the four weedy sides made them seem like cliffs. Then the sleeping leviathan breathed out, the waters rose, the weed streamed, and the water boiled over the table rock with a roar. There was no sense of the passage of waves; only this minute-long fall and rise and fall.

Expert Answers

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For this passage, I like the adjective sinking. It looks like a verb, but can be used as a participle which is an adjective. Here is why I would choose it.

From the beginning of the passage to the end, I get the feeling of going from what it is like on top of water, to what it feels like completely submerged by water. Perhaps this sinking could actually be a metaphor for what Ralph is feeling at the moment. At this point in the book, I find the boys sinking further and further into their savage human nature, and the further they "fall" the further they travel away from possible return to the life-giving air above.

The language begins with references to air, and towards the middle it uses the "swell" and "breathing" like waves feel when close to the surface. Then, "down, down, the waters went". Finally, the idea of an ocean floor surfaces.

There may be MANY adjectives that can describe this passage, it just might be worth working through the passage to see if you can find text to support it.

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