Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

Start Free Trial

How does the environment affect the characters in Lord of the Flies?

Quick answer:

Environmental effects on the characters in Lord of the Flies are first hunger, fear of the unknown and loss of clothes.

Expert Answers

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

One of the major effects on the boys, and this was something that Golding purposely set out to do, is the fact that the environment is one without any adults or structured type of society.  The fact that the environment is one that can support life and allow the boys...

This Answer Now

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

Get 48 Hours Free Access

the chance to try and develop some type of society is important as it allows Golding the opportunity to craft his vision of what would happen in that type of situation.

Some of the direct effects are at first hunger, whereas fresh water appears to be plentiful it takes some time to establish how to hunt the boars and have meat.  The boys are driven to some extent by this hunger to follow Jack in the hopes of getting more meat.

There is also a sense of fear of the unknown as the island is large enough that exploration is not completely straightforward nor is it always clear what is happening in one place compared to another.

One last effect, one that mimics the boys losing the trappings of society, is the way they quickly lose their clothes to be more comfortable in the hot tropical environment.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How are the characters influenced by their surroundings in William Golding's Lord of the Flies?

The setting of William Golding's Lord of the Flies is critical to the plot and themes of the novel. These proper English schoolboys are living without an adult on a tropical island. The island is comprised of areas which are referred to as jungle, but it also has a mountain on which craggy rocks are piled in a place which the boys think looks like a fort. Both of these surroundings, coupled with the fact that there is no authority figure on the island, influence the behavior and appearance of the boys. 

The island is hot and muggy; many of the boys are eager, from the first morning after the crash, to shed their clothing because of it. Over the course of the novel, the boys are all nearly naked, symbolic of their reversion to a more primitive way of thinking and living. The most civilized of them at the end is Ralph, though even he is annoyed by the effects of his surroundings (sun, sand, salt) on his clothing. The others have long ago given up any semblance of being civilized. They are forced to hunt and scavenge if they want to eat, they go to the bathroom without regard to their food, and their desperation for meat drives the hunters, and especially Jack, into rather predatory behavior.

The rugged rock fort on the mountain is the place where Jack and his tribe eventually settle, and it seems to give those who live in a sense of invincibility and power. It is from here that a boulder is deliberately dropped on Piggy to kill him and the new tribe of savages reigns over the island. 

These boys, because of their surroundings and the fact that they have no restraints on their behavior, become savages. Despite that, they do not need to fight one another to save their own lives; however, they do. That aspect of the boys' actions is a choice, not something required of them for survival; but it is certainly made possible by their surroundings. 

Last Updated on