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

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, is set on a tropical island. A plane load of English schoolboys is deposited on the island when their airplane is shot down during a skirmish in World War II. In general terms the island is beautiful and lush; however, not all the boys see the beauty in their surroundings.

The first example which demonstrates contrasting views about nature is the discovery of the conch. Piggy and Ralph discover a shell. To Ralph, "the shell was interesting and pretty and a worthy plaything"; to Piggy the shell was a symbol of civilization, a tool to communicate with the others and maintain order. 

The best example of such differences happens at the top of the mountain while Jack, Ralph, and Simon are exploring. The boys discover some particular bushes, and each of them looks at them differently. 

The bushes were dark evergreen and aromatic and the many buds were waxen green and folded up against the light.

Simon speaks first, calling them candle buds and appreciating their beauty. Jack is the first to act, and he immediately slashes at the bushes with his knife. He is contemptuous of them because they cannot be eaten. Ralph is equally dismissive; he has no imagination and says they may look like candles but they obviously cannot be lit. 

These contrasting attitudes about their surroundings, revealed early in the novel, represent the way each of these primary characters think about life and will determine how they respond to the trials ahead of them. 


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Lord of the Flies

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