Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies book cover
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Significant Allusions

Allusions to World History: William Golding wrote in the wake of World War II, as the Cold War paradigm of the twentieth century was taking shape. Though the events on the island aren’t tethered to a specific place and time, Golding nevertheless refers to his own socio-historic milieu in the novel. 

  • The description of setting, replete with fringing reef, lagoon, rocky platforms, and jungle, is reminiscent of a Pacific island. During World War II, Pacific islands comprised a major military theater, so much so that the US strategy of advance toward Japan is commonly referred to as “island hopping.” 
  • The instruments of war function as complex motifs in the text. The plane that crashes, the parachutist that descends on the island, and the destroyer that Ralph hopes for refer to the instruments of war utilized during World War II. Golding himself participated in D-Day, a critical military offensive in which Allied troops invaded France in part via parachute bombardment. These instruments of war serve to extend thematic relationships in the text to the “civilized” world of adults. 

Allusions to English Literature: From the Age of Exploration until the world wars of the twentieth century, Great Britain maintained a thriving colonial maritime culture. This global expansion impacted the literary culture as well, giving rise to a literary trope wherein Europeans must survive in isolation on a tropical island. 

  • Classics such as Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1719) and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883) established tropical islands as a favorite setting among English audiences. 
  • The final chapter of Lord of the Flies alludes to the The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean by R. M. Ballantyne (1858)...

(The entire section is 588 words.)