How does William Golding show harsh imagery in Lord of the Flies?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Golding utilizes harsh imagery to convey the boys' growing brutality.  The three scenes that most easily come to mind are the token death scenes in the novel:  first, of the sow, then Simon's horrific murder, and Piggy's execution via giant boulder.  Golding's language resonates harshly with the reader, providing more gruesome details than needed to emphasize the boys' out of control behavior.  For example, in the hunting scene with the sow:

"Jack was on top of the sow, stabbing doewnward with his knife. Roger found a lodgement for his point, and began to push till he was leaning with his whole weight.  The spear moved forward inch by inch and the terrified squealing became a high-pitched scream" (135).

Golding's imagery is vivid, raw, and honest to the point of disgust.  Rather than paint a flowery picture about the boys' actions or gloss over their behavior, he uses startlingly real and graphic terms to convey the horror of the boys' descent into savagery on the island. He means for the reader to be disturbed by the graphic violation and implications of this scene with the sow; through imagery, Golding conveys his characters' shocking loss of innocence.

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Lord of the Flies

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