In the first chapter of Lord of the Flies, a severely damaged swath of the island is described several times as a “scar.” This damage to the otherwise pristine island along with the plane crash that caused it symbolize the negative ways that modern civilization affects the natural environment. The scar also represents the severe harm that war inflicts, not only on nature but also on society’s normal functions.
As the novel opens, “the fair-haired boy” later identified as Ralph is the first boy to emerge from the jungle after the plane crashes on a remote island. The novel’s narrator describes this area a “long scar smashed into the jungle.” He hears the voice of another boy, later identified as Piggy, who then emerges and joins him. While they try to figure out exactly what happened, they examine this “scar,” a wide swath where the trees had been broken off.
Piggy “looked up and down the scar,” while Ralph “touched the jagged end of a trunk.” Piggy comments that the plane’s cabin had inflicted the damage, then continued out into the ocean. He had apparently seen the plane burning and cutting through the tree trunks. They continue toward the beach, crossing a green area where many palm trees remain standing, but the fallen trees have caused an upheaval and the grass is everywhere.”
From the shore, the boys gaze out into the water, where a coral reef separates the tranquil lagoon from the open sea. This vista offers a stark contrast to the forested but damaged land. As they continue getting to know each other, they make their way to the granite platform, an elevated and undisturbed stretch of land.
The boys’ conversation and the descriptions of the landscape show the scar as a physical injury to the natural world of the otherwise idyllic island. As the book progresses, the scar is also revealed as an apt metaphor for the damage to the social world, which the boys cannot reconstruct on their own. The rules and norms of social interaction are left broken and jagged like the trees.