In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, what does it mean that the boys emerge from the scar and "tangled undergrowth"?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, takes place on a tropical island. The main characters are English schoolboys who have been stranded on the island after a plane crash. 

On the first morning after the crash, Ralph and Piggy are the first two boys we meet, and both of them are near the "scar." We are not very sure what the scar is at first, but as the two boys talk, the picture grows clearer. 

We know that the scar is long because Golding writes "the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat," and in the next sentence he mentions "broken trunks." The scar is fairly wide, as Ralph has enough room to stand on his head in his excitement when he and Piggy determine there are no adults on the island.

As they talk about the pilot, a "man with a megaphone," an engine on fire, and the other boys, we gather that there has been a plane crash due to a war (Piggy mentions hearing something about an atom bomb). Piggy says:

“When we was coming down I looked through one of them windows. I saw the other part of the plane. There were flames coming out of it.” 

He looked up and down the scar. “And this is what the cabin done.”

The fair boy [Ralph] reached out and touched the jagged end of a trunk. For a moment he looked interested.

“What happened to it?” he asked. “Where’s it got to now?”
“That storm dragged it out to sea. It wasn’t half dangerous with all them tree trunks falling."

While the specific details are not particularly clear, it is evident that the plane managed to deposit the boys safely on the island but crashed its way through the jungle, with the two adults on board, and left a giant scar which tore the trees and other foliage.

The "tangled undergrowth" is simply the dense, lush foliage of the jungle, full of creepers and other vines and bushes typical of a tropical  paradise. So, when Golding says the boys emerged from the scar and the tangled undergrowth, he is simply saying they emerged from the jungle (which happens to contain a man-made scar) and onto the beach. The scar is the first symbolic indication Golding gives us that things will not go well on this island. 

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Lord of the Flies

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