Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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In chapter 1, what details exist to suggest that the beauty may be an illusion?

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In addition to Golding's vivid description of the beautiful tropical island, there are subtle clues that indicate that the island is not paradise and suggest that there is a threat of violence in the environment. The scar that runs across the island is significant and implies that there are flaws present on the seemingly pleasant, secluded landscape. This jagged scar is man-made and is considered a disruption to the natural environment. The "witch-like cry" of a bird is also an ominous detail, as well as the darkness of the forest and "skull-like" coconuts on the terrace overlooking the lagoon. These specific words imply that there is something wicked and threatening among the boys. Golding also writes that the water in the magnificent pool is warmer than Ralph's blood and comments on the sun's oppressive heat by writing,

He [Ralph] trotted through the sand, enduring the sun’s enmity, crossed the platform and found his scattered clothes (17).

Golding's continual references to shadows, darkness, and mirages are also considered significant and suggest that the beauty of the island may be an illusion. As the novel progresses, the boys quickly descend into savagery, and the island becomes a threatening and hostile environment.

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Although the boys are initially thrilled with their remote and tropical paradise, there are clues in the descriptions implanted by Golding that lets the reader know in subtle ways that all may not be what it seems.  Consider the description early on in which Ralph examines the "skull-like coconuts" or when Piggy jumps into the water and finds it "warmer than his blood" or the pool "looming up."  Futhermore, when the conch is blown, the sound is described as "deep" and "harsh."  The "(c)louds of birds" that rose up from its sound "squealed" and "ran."  The boys trudge on in a "sweaty march" as they try to get their bearings.

With continuous descriptions like these, what initially sounds like paradise begins taking on the adjectives and invective of hell.   

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