What effects did the different parts of the day have on the boys on the island in Lord of the Flies by William Golding?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two particularly difficult times of day on the island according to chapter three of Lord of the Flies by William Golding: midday and night. The mornings, however, are full of pleasantness for the boys.

They accepted the pleasures of morning, the bright sun, the whelming sea and sweet air, as a time when play was good and life so full that hope was not necessary and therefore forgotten.

This carefree time does not last long, though, and when the sun is overhead everything changes. The light makes the shadows fall differently and the bright colors of the morning change; the heat becomes oppressive and the boys usually retire somewhere in the shade for a nap.

Strange things happened at midday. The glittering sea rose up, moved apart in planes of blatant impossibility; the coral reef and the few stunted palms that clung to the more elevated parts would float up into the sky, would quiver, be plucked apart, run like raindrops on a wire or be repeated as in an odd succession of mirrors. Sometimes land loomed where there was no land and flicked out like a bubble as the children watched. Piggy discounted all this learnedly as a “mirage”; and since no boy could reach even the reef over the stretch of water where the snapping sharks waited, they grew accustomed to these mysteries and ignored them, just as they ignored the miraculous, throbbing stars. At midday the illusions merged into the sky and there the sun gazed down like an angry eye.

During their quiet time in the shade, the boys would suffer from some kind of hallucinations, undoubtedly caused (at least in large part) by the heat and their deficient diets. They do not sleep well at night, either, which may be a contributing factor to these daytime illusions. 

Then, at the end of the afternoon; the mirage subsided and the horizon became level and blue and clipped as the sun declined. That was another time of comparative coolness but menaced by the coming of the dark.

The nights are the worst for all of the boys. From almost the first night, the littluns and even the older boys have been suffering from nightmares which cause them to be restless and even scream in their sleep.

When the sun sank, darkness dropped on the island like an extinguisher and soon the shelters were full of restlessness, under the remote stars.

For now there is at least part of the day which is untouched by nightmares and fears; however, a time is coming when the boys will all be plagued with fears--and worse--at all times of the day. 

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Lord of the Flies

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