Is there any significance to the limited use of first person towards the end of Lord of the Flies?I noticed that near the end of the book, Golding uses the first person for a short while in Ralph's...

Is there any significance to the limited use of first person towards the end of Lord of the Flies?

I noticed that near the end of the book, Golding uses the first person for a short while in Ralph's perspective (page 220 for some). 'The savage stopped fifteen yards away and uttered his cry. Perhaps he can hear my heart over the noises of the fire. Don't scream. Get ready.'

I was wondering if there was a significance to this, as it is an allegorical novel.

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What an intriguing observation!  I can't say that I've ever paid any special attention to that particular usage in my years of teaching; however, your question prompted me to spend some time on it now. 

I certainly don't claim to have any sort of definitive answer for you, but consider this:  the only other time, as far as I can tell, the language of the novel sounds like this passage is during Ralph's daydream in chapter 7.  If that's the case, if we can discover what these two passages have in common, perhaps we can discover why Golding chose to make this change.

In what I'll call the "daydream passage," Ralph is remembering what his life used to be like--his life at home, not boarding school.  Golding uses the second person "you" heavily throughout the passage.  "You could lie up there," "you could see the damp spot," "you could go indoors when you were cold," "when you went to bed."   This is an attempt, I think, to share with us Ralph's life from his own perspective.

In the passage you've referenced there is no dream, but the same thing is true.  Ralph is experiencing something which is being shared in second person:  "you could only see him," now you could see him."  We are able to experience Ralph's plight from his perspective.  Golding's use of first person to express Ralph's emotional desperation does appear to be an anomaly; however, in the context of this situation, perhaps it's simply used to draw attention to Ralph's intense fear.

That's probably not a particularly satisfying explanation, but it's the best I have for you.  I'll keep thinking, though.  Thank you for the challenge!

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Lord of the Flies

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