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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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How is the setting presented in Lord of the Flies's first chapter?

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In his detailed description of the island, Golding conveys the impression of a demi-paradise. This is perfectly in keeping with how the stranded schoolboys initially view their new home. With its sandy beaches, lush green forest, and dark blue water as far as the eye can see, the island seems like the perfect place to have an adventure.

But even at this early stage in the novel, there are hints of what's to come. Golding's reference to the "dark blue" sea is surely no accident. The indication of the waves' formidable darkness and depth emphasizes the difficulty that the boys will have in escaping from the desert island. The boys are trapped by the endless expanse of sea all around them. If they're ever going to be rescued, it will take quite some time. But the boys are not thinking about this, at least not yet; they're too busy enjoying their newfound freedom to care.

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In the first chapter of the novel, Golding describes the uninhabited island. Golding writes,

"The shore was fledged with palm trees. These stood or leaned or reclined against the light and their green feathers were a hundred feet up in the air. The ground beneath them was a bank covered with coarse grass, torn everywhere by the upheavals of fallen trees, scattered with decaying coconuts and palm saplings. Behind this was the darkness of the forest proper and the open space of the scar...Out there, perhaps a mile away, the white surf flinked on a coral reef, beyond that the open sea was dark blue" (10).

Although Golding depicts a beautiful island, the description of the "dark forest" and "scar" provide an ominous tone. The vast ocean also illustrates that the boys are completely alone on the island away from civilization. Golding then describes the meeting platform and natural bathing pool. As Ralph, Simon, and Jack explore the island, they discover that it is boat shaped and notice a detached peninsula of rock that will eventually become Jack's Castle Rock. There are also beautiful flowers, pig trails, and an abundance of fruit. The uninhabited island reflects a type of paradise that symbolically represents Eden. The children's descent into savagery mimics Adam and Eve's temptation and fall. Also, Golding created an island where the boys could easily find raw materials and an abundance of food. Without a continual struggle to provide for themselves, Golding could focus on the social issues within the group.

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