Golding utilizes flashbacks in Lord of the Flies to reveal Ralph's state of mind and explore his tenuous connection to civilization and reality. One such flashback occurs in chapter seven when Ralph climbs the mountain with Jack and his hunters to search for the beast. Ralph retreats to a fond memory of the "cottage on the edge of the moors" (112). In this particular flashback, Ralph recalls the security and comfort of living at home with his parents in the snug cottage. Ralph recalls that his parents were both there with him, and wild ponies would come up to their fence. Ralph clings to this memory, because it makes him feel safe and protected. If only for a few moments, he can pretend that "everything was all right; everything good-humored and friendly" (112).
Later in the novel, Ralph returns to the comfort of this memory in yet another flashback in Chapter Ten. Golding uses Ralph's memories to show how the boy attempts to cope with the stress of his circumstances; Ralph retreats to the cottage in Devon the night after Simon's death. Golding's flashback suggests that Ralph is trying to replace the violent memories of the dance with something more peaceful and secure feeling. However the cottage at Devon offers Ralph little relief, as even "the attraction of wildness" of the ponies and cottage has faded for the boy; Ralph's mind at this point needed a "consideration of a tamed town where savagery could not set foot" (164).
Golding's use of flashbacks in Lord of the Flies reveals the fragile state of Ralph's mind as the danger and savagery of the island intensifies.