Use of structure in Lord of the Flies

The structure of a text refers to the way in which events are organised inside the novel as a whole. In the case of Lord of the Flies, the structure is chronological, where events are revealed to the reader in the order in which they have happened. The book is divided into 12 chapters, the titles of which summarise key events in the plot.


A key technique Golding uses in structuring Lord of the Flies is foreshadowing. Here the author describes a seemingly ordinary event which will happen again much later in the book, only this time it will be far more significant. Sometimes the hint can be as simple as something that somebody says or an action they carry out. Some examples of foreshadowing in Lord of the Flies are:

  • Roger throws stones towards Henry (though not actually at him). At this stage, the behaviour that Roger has been taught at home stops him from going any further. Towards the end of the novel, the small stones have become a huge rock which Roger rolls down the hill onto the unsuspecting Piggy, who is killed as a result. The difference between the two events shows how far Roger’s understanding of civilised behaviour has broken down.
  • The pig hunt game which the boys play foreshadows two significant events. At first it is just a silly game with one of the boys pretending to be a pig and the others chasing after it. The next time it becomes more physical and Robert (pretending to be the pig) is hurt. The boys begin to accompany the game with a sinister chant "Kill the pig" and turn the whole thing into a wild and savage dance. They eventually get so carried away with all this, that Simon is brutally killed. Therefore the game foreshadows Simon’s death. It also foreshadows the final hunt to slaughter Ralph.
  • When Ralph and Simon discuss being rescued, Simon says that he thinks Ralph will be rescued. Ralph is rescued, of course, though perhaps not quite in the circumstances which they might have imagined. Interestingly, Simon does not include himself in this rescue – a hint to the reader that he will not actually survive.

Examining structure

Examining structure in a text can also refer to looking at the writer’s deliberate arrangement of sentences and paragraphs. This is known as syntax. Here is an example of how such a piece of text might be analysed:

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, a sombre noise across which the ululations were scribbled excruciatingly as on slate. He knew he had heard it before somewhere, but had no time to remember.

Break the line.

A tree.

Hide, and let them pass.

A nearer cry stood him on his feet and immediately he was away again, running fast among thorns and brambles. Suddenly he blundered into the open, found himself again in that open space -- and there was the fathomwide grin of the skull, no longer ridiculing a deep blue patch of sky but jeering up into a blanket of smoke.

  • In this extract, Ralph is on the run and being hunted down by the other boys and the structure of the passage helps to demonstrate this.
  • The sentences where Ralph is running and moving are longer and suggest his continued movement.
  • When he pauses to stop, listen or get his breath back they are shorter – in fact they are often phrases rather than sentences.
  • The three central phrases are Ralph's thoughts ('Break the line.' / 'A tree.' / 'Hide, and let them pass.') They are incomplete and broken up as thoughts would be and they appear on separate lines to emphasise this further.
  • At the moment when Ralph comes across the pig's head, use is made of a dash in the middle of the sentence. This indicates that Ralph has come to a sudden halt as he sees the horrible sight which is in front of him.