What's the purpose of having the boys land on an island in Lord of the Flies? 

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The setting is crucial, as it allows Golding to explore the fine line between civilization and savagery, the book's dominant theme. Historically, the West likes to think of itself as thoroughly civilized, looking down on cultures it sees as "backward" or "undeveloped." The boys in Lord of the Flies are no different. Hailing from an elite background, they share the common prejudices of their social class. They regard themselves as young English gentleman, whose mission is to fly the flag of civilization in this strange, exotic land. Even Jack, the eventual leader of the pig-sticking savages, is initially signed up to this ennobling ideal:

We've got to have rules and obey them. After all we're not savages.

Suffice to say that this civilizing mission doesn't go according to plan. Most of these young English gents descend into outright savagery, indiscriminately shedding blood of both boy and pig alike. In their descent, the boys reenact the original Fall, when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge and introduced sin into the world. Golding uses what appears to be an Edenic paradise to make a point about the inherent fallibility of human nature, so starkly illustrated by the boys and their truly shocking behavior.

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William Golding chose to have the boys crash land on an abandoned island to illustrate how children would react without societal boundaries and adult supervision. The setting of the novel Lord of the Flies takes place on an uninhabited island, with an ideal climate, and abundant food source. The boys are free to express themselves without consequence or interference from civil authorities. This setting creates the ideal location for human instincts to develop untethered and unapologetic. The island is removed far from civilization, and the topography allows the author to create various scenes that enhance the plot and imagery throughout the story. The beautiful island symbolizes the Garden of Eden. William Golding alludes to Biblical events throughout the novel, and the setting allows him to parody The Coral Island by R. M. Ballantyne. 

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