What role do Ralph's dream scenes play in the narrative of Lord of the Flies?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In contrast to his initial delight at finding himself on "a coral island," in Chapter One in which "he dreamed pleasantly," Ralph's reverie of Chapter Six is one of longing for home. In his dream, after tossing restlessly for hours, he contentedly feeds the ponies with sugar over the garden wall in Devon where his parents had rented a cottage, but then someone shakes his arm, he dreams, and tells him it is tea time. Instead, it is Sam-n-Eric saying that they have seen the beast. Harshly, Ralph is brought back to frightening reality.

Again, in Chapter Seven, as Ralph follows the rhythmic rise and fall of waves, "something of the remoteness of the sea numbed his brain." Ralph contemplates that on the side of the island "one might dream of rescue," but here he is faced with the magnitude of the division of him from civilization. Just then, however, he hears Simon, who tells him, "You'll get back to where you came from." In despair Ralph says that the ocean is so large, but Simon insists that he will "get back all right."

After the murder of Simon in which Piggy and Ralph have been part of the circle, in Chapter Ten, Piggy tries to rationalize what has happened to Simon, but a much disturbed Ralph rocks back and forth, and tells Piggy,

"I'm frightened. Of us. I want to go home. Oh God, I want to go home."

That night Ralph settles himself in the leaves for "his nightly game of supposing," but in this dream, he first imagines the cottage where the wild ponies came, although his thoughts

...skated to a consideration of a tamed town where savagery would not set foot. What could be safer than the bus center with its lamps and wheels?

In his dream, Ralph dances around "a lamp standard." A strange looking bus crawls out of the terminal, but Ralph is awakened. Piggy speaks quietly, telling Ralph, "If we can't get home soon, we'll be balmy." 

Ralph's dreams become increasingly disturbed by realities. At first, there are pleasant remembrances, but gradually they become vaguer and less romantic as reality interferes with them. Underlying all of these dreams, though, is Ralph's searching for safety.

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