What does William Golding compare the ocean on the side of the path to in Lord of the Flies?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the novel Lord of the Flies, there are a couple of different places where author William Golding compares the ocean to a wild animal or other animate being.

In the final chapter, after Piggy's murder, Jack threatens Ralph with a spear, and the others of Ralph's tribe follow suit. Ralph is forced to flee from Jack and the others. As he lies in hiding in the darkness, on his left, he hears the ocean waves "breathing, sucking down, the boiling back over the rock." Since Golding uses the terms "breathing" and "sucking," we know he is comparing the ocean to a living, breathing thing, like an animal. Furthermore, the image of "boiling," a term often used to describe anger, helps personify the ocean as an angry, ferocious beast, like a wild animal. Further down on the page, Golding continues to compare the ocean to a wild animal by stating, "Every minute the water breathed round the death rock." The phrase "death rock" refers to the rock used to kill Piggy.

Golding's choice to compare the ocean to a wild beast helps develop his theme concerning human nature. One of his central points argues that human beings are born having a good and evil dual nature, and only the constraints of society help us nurture our good natures. Without the constraints of society, human beings fall prey to their more natural, instinctive evil natures. The ocean represents a barrier between the boys and civilized society; hence, Golding personifies the ocean as a wild beast, thereby comparing the ocean to a wild beast, to show how the ocean, as a barrier, has nurtured the boys' evil natures.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial