The island

Tropical island with beach and palm trees
The island - is it really the tropical paradise that it is at first made out to be?

The island is an ambiguous place to be. At some points in the novel, the environment the boys are living in seems to be like paradise and its inhabitants are able to be happy and carefree. At others it becomes a forbidding and threatening place. Even the food is confusing - at the start the fruit is tasty and wonderful but eventually it makes the boys sick and ill.

Golding makes a point about not judging something by how it at first looks, appearances can be deceptive.

How is the theme of the island shown in the novel?

In Lord of the Flies, William Golding examines the environment the boys are forced to live in and their interaction with it. Some of the key aspects are:

  • the sea
  • the forest
  • the weather

How does Golding show this?EvidenceAnalysis
The seaThe sea is first shown as calm and inviting. It is a place in which to play and have fun. As the novel progresses, the sea becomes more threatening, mysterious and associated with death. The bodies of Simon, Piggy and the parachutist are all washed away by the tide.Now he saw the landsman's view of the swell and it seemed like the breathing of some stupendous creature. Slowly the waters sank among the rocks, revealing pink tables of granite, strange growths of coral, polyp, and weed.Here the sea becomes sinister with the movement of the water compared to the breathing of some stupendous creature - the reader is reminded of the Beast.
The forestWhile the forest is the source of food, it is also a forbidding place which hides dark secrets. The only character that seems to be at his ease there is Simon who has a close relationship with nature. Twice in the novel parts of the forest are destroyed by fire.He jerked his head off the ground and listened. There was another noise to attend to now, a deep grumbling noise, as though the forest itself were angry with him...In the final stages of the novel the forest hinders Ralph's progress as he tries to escape the hunters who are after him. Here the forest seems almost to be alive as it makes a deep menacing sound.
The weatherAlthough the sun and heat can be pleasant it is also the cause of bad tempers and sunburn. Storms can be sudden and violent. The biggest storm comes at the point where Simon is killed - the weather mirrors the chaos among the boys. This is a writer's technique called pathetic falllacy.He knelt down and the arrow of the sun fell on him. That other time the air had seemed to vibrate with heat; but now it threatened. The sun is described as though it is a weapon which is attacking Simon and from which he cannot get away. The effects of the heat are unpleasant and negative, causing him to sweat and long for water.

Analysing the evidence


Golding wrote in an essay called Fable: 'The boys try to construct a civilisation on the island; but it breaks down in blood and terror because the boys are suffering from the terrible disease of being human.' How does he show this in Lord of the Flies?

  • At first the boys try to set up a version of the society they already know from their past lives. This includes a democratic election for leader, the creation of rules (laws) and a clear plan of action.
  • Many factors contribute to things going wrong such as Jack's desire for power, the evil that lives inside them all and even the environment in which they struggle to survive.
  • By the end of the novel most of the boys have become savages with little sense of law and order, right and wrong or any sympathy for their fellow humans.

Golding demonstrates the slow but predictable breakdown of a miniature society and by doing so, gets his readers to think about real life.

Move on to Test