What is the irony of the dead parachutist landing on the mountain in Lord of the Flies?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Golding creates dark irony in Lord of the Flies when the boys wish for a message from the grown-up world, and within the same night, a dead parachutist drifts onto the island and becomes snagged in a tree. 

In chapter five, "Beast from the Water," Ralph, Simon, and Piggy yearn for the calming presence of the adult world:

"'If only they could get a message to us,' cried Ralph desperately. 'If only they could send us something grownup...a sign or something" (94).

The boys' desperate wish for a sign from the grownups is granted in Chapter Six: a dead parachutist drops out of the sky from an aerial battle at sea.  The moment is full of irony, because the boys wished for grownup intervention on the island, and they received an actual grownup; however, the parachutist is dead upon arrival and his presence will not be a balm to the boys.  In fact, his drooping figure and blowing chute will scare Samneric so badly they run from their post on the mountain side, convinced that they have seen the beast.  The appearance of the grownup actually causes more harm than good, creating a difficult, tense situation among the boys who are incredibly frightened by the beast. 

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Lord of the Flies

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