Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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What are examples of figurative language used in the first two chapters of Lord of the Flies?

What are examples of figurative language used in the first two chapters of Lord of the Flies?

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The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon. Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, his grey shirt stuck to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead.

This is how Lord of the Flies begins, and already we can see a few different examples of figurative language. There is a rhyme in "fair hair," evoking the sing-song quality of a fable. There are multiple examples of alliteration in which the first letter is repeated: in "few feet," "school sweater," and "shirt stuck."

Golding uses lots of imagery in the text, especially when first describing the setting in the first chapter:

The beach between the palm terrace and the water was a thin stick, endless apparently, for to Ralph’s left the perspectives of palm and beach and water drew to a point at infinity; and always, almost visible, was the heat.

He uses a metaphor in calling the water a "thin stick," and helps us picture the endlessness through use of the word "infinity." He shows us how hot it is by saying the heat was "almost visible":

“How does he know we’re here?”

Ralph lolled in the water. Sleep enveloped him like the swathing mirages that were wrestling with the brilliance of the lagoon.

“How does he know we’re here?”

Because, thought Ralph, because, because. The roar from the reef became very distant.

Metaphors and similes are both comparisons, but similes use the words "like" or "as." The above section contains a simile and imagery of the sleepy feeling overcoming Ralph. There is also repetition. Ralph's repetition of "because" shows a child-like quality and shows that he has nothing to follow the "because." He just repeats the word in his head because he has no real reason for why his father would know they are there. This is also shown through Piggy needing to repeat the question, since Ralph does not give any answer out loud:

Clouds of birds rose from the treetops, and something squealed and ran in the undergrowth.

In the above sentence, we see examples of metaphor, alliteration, and foreshadowing. The squealing creature is a pig, as we will soon find out that pigs inhabit the island and can be hunted. The pigs will play a larger role in the story:

“We’ll have rules!” he cried excitedly. “Lots of rules! Then when anyone
breaks ’em–”





This use of onomatopoeia highlights the characters as children. Instead of directly saying what they will do to anyone who breaks the rules, they use sound effects, presumably acting out what will happen.

“Acting like a crowd of kids!”

This simile is also an example of irony because the characters are in fact kids. This also shows us that the boys are expected to act more mature—and while some of them try to, overall they are still children.

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Allusions are a brief, indirect reference to something with historical, cultural, or political significance. Throughout Chapter 1, Golding alludes to the novels Treasure Island, Swallows and Amazons, and Coral Island when the boys hold an assembly.

Alliteration is the succession of a number of words with the same first consonant sound occurring in a series. Golding utilizes alliteration in Chapter 2 when he describes the fire on the mountain. Golding writes the following:

"To keep a clean flag of flame flying on the mountain was the immediate end and no one looked further" (57).

An onomatopoeia is a word, which mimics the natural sound of a thing and imitates the thing it describes. Golding utilizes several onomatopoeias throughout the first two chapters of Lord of the Flies:

  • "Sche-aa-ow!" (Golding, 13).
  • "Whizzoh!" (Golding, 14).
  • "Whee-aa-oo!" (Golding, 37).

Personification is a literary device in which an inanimate object, idea, or animal is given human attributes and characteristics:

"He turned over, holding his nose, and a golden light danced and shattered just over his face" (Golding, 15).

"With that word the heat seemed to increase till it became a threatening weight and the lagoon attacked them with a blinding effulgence" (Golding, 17).

"He trotted through the sand, enduring the sun’s enmity, crossed the platform and found his scattered clothes" (Golding, 17).

Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify an alternate, deeper meaning in an object throughout literature. One of Golding's most significant symbols throughout the novel is the conch. In Chapter 1, Ralph and Piggy find a conch in the lagoon and use it to call the other boys together. During their assemblies, the conch is passed between each boy wishing to speak. The conch symbolizes civilization, order, and structure throughout the novel.

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Written as a figurative work itself, the allegory Lord of the Flies contains many examples of evocative literary language in the first two chapters.

Metaphor - an unstated comparison between two unlike things or people.

  • In the opening paragraph of the novel, the path of the crashed airplane is called a "long scar smashed into the jungle," and it has made "a bath of heat."
  • A bird is called "a vision of red and yellow" that flies upward.
  • The leaves of the palm trees along the shore are "green feathers," and they make "a green roof."
  • As Ralph realizes that he is on a beautiful Eden-like island, he emits "bass strings of delight." Here, he thinks is "coral island"--a comparison to Ballantyne's novel.
  • The beach stops at one point where "a great plaform of pink granite" rises.

Simile - a stated comparison between unlike things or people.

  • The bird that is startled by Ralph and Piggy screams with a "witch-like cry."
  • Ralph pulls off his shirt and stands amid the "skull-like coconuts."
  • The lagoon that the boys discover is "as still as a mountain lake."
  • The boys from the choir arrive and are "panting like dogs."
  • As Ralph lolls in the water, "Sleep enveloped him like the swathing mirages...."
  • One boy describes a fearful "beastie," a "snake-like thing."

Personification - The attribution of human qualities to that which is non-human

  • In the above description of Ralph lolling in the water, the mirages "were wrestling with the brillance of the lagoon."
  • Broken pieces of the plane are described as having been "dragged out to sea."
  • The huge ledge of pink granite "thrust up uncompromisingly through forest..."
  • As Ralph dives and swims, "a golden light danced..."

Imagery - Language that appeals to the senses.

  • Much color imagery is used as Ralph's body is "golden," "the white surf" hits a "coral reef," the sea is a "dark blue," "shadowy green and purple." The granite rocks are "pink" and the conch is significantly a "fading pink." One little boy has a "mulberry-colored birthmark.


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