Why is the setting so important in Lord of the Flies?

The setting is so important to the story in Lord of the Flies because the empty island allows the boys to descend into chaos and lets the author comment on the fragility of Western life.

Expert Answers

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

The setting is so important to Lord of the Flies because it provides the stage for the action and symbolism throughout the novel. By placing the boys on an empty island, William Golding takes away the influence of adults. The lack of grownups seems to represent the absence of a...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The setting is so important to Lord of the Flies because it provides the stage for the action and symbolism throughout the novel. By placing the boys on an empty island, William Golding takes away the influence of adults. The lack of grownups seems to represent the absence of a mature, developed perspective. Such a setting produces a vacuum in which violence and barbarity eventually dominate. Piggy and Ralph try to reason with Jack and his unruly faction, but their attempts to create a cooperative, democratic process falter. Minus an authoritative figure, Piggy and Ralph’s rationality stand no chance in the face of Jack’s ruthlessness. To halt the turmoil, someone of stature has to impose themselves on the setting, which might be why the naval officer arrives on the island at the end.

The setting can also be considered important because of how it highlights the vulnerabilities of Western civilization. Separating the boys from their English heritage and their supposedly enlightened values permits Golding to comment on how very few people are fundamentally immune to savage behavior. Placed in the right environment at the proper moment, any person could act in a bestial manner. The setting shows that a peaceful, high-minded mode of life should not be taken for granted.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on