What is the exposition, rising action, climax, turning point, resolution, dénouement of Lord of the Flies?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Golding's aim to "trace the defect of society back to the defect of human nature" is skillfully crafted in a gripping adventure tale that has allegorical meaning. In this tale Golding's theme is that violent tendencies are, indeed, an innate and inescapable part of human nature.

Here are the plot structure components of Lord of the Flies:

  • Exposition

The time of the narrative is World War II
The place is an island that is probably in the Pacific Ocean.

The plane that transports British schoolboys is shot down. (This plane accident may have been somewhat imitative of the actions of England's Children Overseas Reception board which sent children from England, especially the major cities such as London, to safer areas. In fact, there was a ship, City of Benares, which was torpedoed on 17 September 1940, killing 77 of the 90 CORB children aboard.)

A golden-haired boy named Ralph emerges from the wreckage and "picks his way toward the lagoon." He is a handsome, self-assured, and athletic youth. Then, a fat, asthmatic boy wearing glasses appears. Ralph is elated because he feels that he is on "coral island," an island from the novel, The Coral Island by Robert Michael Ballantyne.

  • Rising Action

The conflicts among Ralph and Piggy and Jack begin as they vie for leadership. Ralph is voted the leader and he suggests that the boys explore the island and build a rescue fire.
After rumors of a beast circulate among the boys, Ralph calls a meeting. Tensions mount, and the boys divide  their support between Ralph and Jack. Jack forms a hunting group, and the idea of hunting pigs appeals more to many of the boys than building shelters.

  • Climax

The climax, or the most intense moment, of the narrative occurs when Simon goes to the clearing where he meditates, and there he encounters the head of the pig which Jack and the hunters have left impaled upon a stake (Chapter Eight). The Lord of the Flies tells him, "You knew, didn't you?"
Only Simon understands that the beast is in within man, not some creature. He tries to tell the other boys about the source of evil when he returns to the group, but the boys attack him instead.

  • Falling Action

After the death of Simon, Jack and Rodger recruit most of the boys and their acts of savagery increase. Ralph finds himself hunted like an animal, and in their crazed effort to capture him, Jack and the others set fire to the island. Finally, Ralph fights his way past Jack and others and makes his way to the shoreline where he collapses on the beach in exhaustion. The hunters follow close behind.

  • Denouement

As he regains himself, Ralph looks up and sees a British naval officer, who tells Ralph that he has seen the fire. Then, Jack and the hunters reach the beach and halt when they see the officer, who asks them, "What have you been doing? Having a war or something?"
The officer asks how many of them there are and tells them they are rescued now. But, he scolds them:

"I should have thought that...British boys...would have been able to put up a better show than that...." 

The officer turns his back as Ralph cries for the loss of innocence and for his friends Simon and Piggy. He also cries over "the darkness of men's hearts."

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

EXPOSITION.  We discover that the boys are on their way from England to the safety of Australia to avoid a nuclear threat to life in Europe. We learn some background information about Ralph and Piggy, but little else about the rest of the boys.

RISING ACTION.  The escalation of conflict between Ralph and Jack, the two oldest boys and leaders.

CLIMAX.  There could be several instances, but Piggy's death seems to be the most logical example. Ralph's escape from death could be another. 

TURNING POINT.  Jack's decision to take control, overthrown Ralph's position as chief, and the forced punishment for anyone not following his directives.

RESOLUTION.  Jack and his boys decide to put an end to all opposition, hunting down Ralph in order to kill him and make Jack the supreme leader.

DENOUEMENT.  The appearance of a naval officer on the beach assures that the boys will be rescued and their savagery ended.

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Lord of the Flies

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