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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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The sign from the adult world in Lord of the Flies

Summary:

The sign from the adult world in Lord of the Flies is a dead parachutist. It symbolizes the ongoing war in the adult world and highlights the boys' descent into savagery. The dead parachutist's arrival serves as a grim reminder of the violence and chaos beyond the island, mirroring the boys' internal conflicts and their loss of innocence.

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In Lord of the Flies, what does the "sign" suggest about the adult world?

Chapter 6 of Lord of the Flies begins with a description of a dark night on the island during which the children are restless and the littluns occasionally cry out with fear.  Soon, the quiet of the night is disrupted:

A sign came down from the world of grown-ups, though at the time there was no child awake to read it.  There was a sudden bright explosion and corkscrew trail across the sky; then darkness again and stars.

Obviously, readers understand that the "sign" is actually the explosion of a plane--and that the impact has killed the parachutist who attempted to eject.  Later in the chapter, the twins see the dead parachutist and think it is the beast.

Golding's underlying purpose in writing Lord of the Flies is to show us that we live in a corrupt world and that human nature is inherently evil--and therefore responsible for many of the troubles that we as a society encounter.  The fact that the adults are at war underscores Golding's purpose.  Golding makes the same point at the end of the novel, when a naval officer interrupts his man-hunt to rescue the boys.

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What sign do the boys receive from the adult world in Lord of the Flies?

At the end of Chapter 5, the boys lament about their situation and wish for a sign from the world of grown-ups. Ironically, the sign from the world of grown-ups is a dead paratrooper. At the beginning of Chapter 6, while the boys are sleeping, an aerial battle takes place above the island. In the midst of the battle, a paratrooper is shot down out of the sky and drifts to earth. The boys are unaware of the overhead battle that took place throughout the night and do not know that a dead paratrooper has landed on the island. Later on in the novel, Samneric spot the dead paratrooper's body swaying back and forth on the top of the mountain. Samneric mistake the paratrooper for the beast and the boys form a hunting party to track the beast. Simon is the only character to view the paratrooper and correctly identify it as a dead human body. Unfortunately, Simon is violently assaulted and dies on the beach before telling the boys the news the beast is actually a dead paratrooper.

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