What are the contrasting elements of nature that are presented in chapter one of William Golding's Lord of the Flies?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting of William Golding's Lord of the Flies is a tropical island, and mostly it is what one might expect: lush, green, fruitful, flowering, and beautiful. But not everything on the island is lovely.

In the first paragraph of the novel, we meet Ralph, emerging from a night spent in the jungle after an airplane crashed. "All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat." The island has been marred by the plane crash (thus the scar), and the heat is oppressive. This is clearly foreshadowing that all will not be perfect in this island paradise.

Several pages later, however, Ralph looks out at the shimmering water and sees this magnificent sight:

Out there, perhaps a mile away, the white surf flinked on a coral reef, and beyond that the open sea was dark blue. Within the irregular arc of coral the lagoon was still as a mountain lake—blue of all shades and shadowy green and purple. The beach between the palm terrace and the water was a thin stick, endless apparently, for to Ralph’s left the perspectives of palm and beach and water drew to a point at infinity; and always, almost visible, was the heat.

Later in the chapter, Ralph, Jack, and Simon explore the island's mountain and discover another terrain altogether. "Some unknown force had wrenched and shattered these cubes [rocks] so that they lay askew, often piled diminishingly on each other." This craggy summit will later be used as a fort from which Piggy will be smashed by one of those rocks. 

Also in this chapter, Golding describes the tangle of jungle as being the "looped fantasy of the forest creepers." Later, the youngest boys on the island (known as the littluns) will have nightmares because in the dark they see those creeping vines as snakes.

The contrasting elements of nature on this island as described in the first chapter of this novel are all indicators of things to come and prepare the reader for evil in the midst of great beauty and promise. 

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Lord of the Flies

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