Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In chapter 1 of Lord of the Flies, how does Golding use the three boys's responses to the candle bud flowers to develop their characterization?

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write9,003 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Towards the end of chapter one, Ralph, Jack, and Simon are returning to the platform after their expedition when they come across unique flowers that resemble candles. Simon is the first to identify the dark evergreen, aromatic flowers by saying, "Like candles. Candle bushes. Candle buds" (Golding, 40). Jack then takes his knife and immediately slashes one of the flowers and Ralph comments, "You couldn’t light them . . . They just look like candles" (Golding, 40). Jack then comments that they cannot eat the flowers, dismisses them as unimportant, and continues to walk towards the platform.

Golding utilizes the boys's different reactions to the candle bud flowers as a way to characterize each of them. Simon is characterized as an insightful, curious boy, who immediately attempts to identify the unique flowers. Simon's affinity for correctly identifying the flowers coincides with his ability to accurately identify the beast. Simon also appreciates the pleasant flowers, which illustrates his affinity for the natural world. Simon's character is associated with inherent knowledge, wisdom, and an appreciation for nature, which are three attributes he displays by correctly describing the flowers.

Jack's reaction to the flowers characterizes him as a violent individual, who is only concerned with satisfying his physical desires. By slashing the flower and dismissing the plant because it is inedible, Golding depicts Jack’s hostile personality and affinity for hunting later in the novel.

Ralph's comment about lighting the candle buds characterizes him as a pragmatic individual, who is continually searching for ways to improve their situation. Ralph's comment also foreshadows his affinity for maintaining the signal fire, which will improve their chances of rescue. As the elected chief, Ralph desperately attempts to establish a structured society on the uninhabited tropical island, and maintaining the signal fire is his primary concern.

Further Reading:
check Approved by eNotes Editorial
Kristen Lentz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2012

write2,471 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Simon admires the beauty of the strange bushes in the first chapter of Lord of the Flies:

Simon spoke first. "Like candles.  Candle bushes.  Candle buds" (30). 

Golding uses the boys' different responses to the interesting bush to further their characterization.  Simon's open admiration for the unique qualities of the fauna reveals that he appreciates the natural world for aesthetic reasons beyond utilitarian purposes.  Whereas Simon's evaluation is whimsical, Ralph's response to the candle buds is one of practicality.  He evaluates their usefulness to the tribe. The reader should note that the most destructive response of all three boys comes from Jack who slashes one of the buds with his his knife, dismissing the plant immediately because the boys "can't eat them" (30).  His response is really telling to the reader, because not only does it highlight Jack's potentially vicious nature, it also reveals Jack's viewpoint as a consumer--he is only interested in nature in terms of what it can provide for him.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial