Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 191
William Golding's Rites of Passage is the first novel in the To the Ends of the Earth trilogy. In his journal, Edmund Talbot accounts a six month voyage to Australia. Talbot describes passengers of all classes of British society, all of whom have had employment arranged by Talbot's influential grandfather.
Writings in the journal begin to concern a passenger named Reverend Colley, who is persecuted by Captain Anderson. Upon the crew reaching the equatorial belt, Colley is found in a drunken stupor. When Talbot goes to comfort him, he finds a journal of Colley's own keeping near his half-conscious body. Colley dies after getting drunk. It is also implied that he is sexually assaulted by the crew and officers. When one of the crew suggests this, the captain swiftly calls off the investigation into Colley's death, as homosexual intercourse is punishable by hanging.
Upon going over Colley's journal, Talbot feels guilty that Colley had seen him as a sort of hero and had wished to know him better. As the novel ends, Talbot is hesitant about presenting his own journal to his grandfather, though he concludes that he has no choice.