Lord of the Flies - Preparing your answer

Before beginning an answer, it is important that you plan it properly so that it is structured to the question. The bullet points that go with the question will help you to do this. You must also refer to the examiner's assessment objectives to ensure you have met the criteria.

Here is a structure that you could use for your answer:

  1. Introduction. Ralph's character in the earlier part of the novel.
  2. How Ralph's character changes as a result of his experiences.
  3. What has become of Ralph by the end of the novel (the extract).
  4. How this affects the reader's view of Ralph.
  5. Conclusion. This extract marks the point of Ralph growing up.

Sample answers

Point 3 from the above structure would form the main part of an answer and look in detail at the given extract - as the question asks you to do.

Sample answer 1

Ralph has a realisation at this point in the book. His realisation is that the boys have done terrible things such as kill Simon and set fire to the island. The writer uses a simile here. Ralph also tries to think about what Jack has done but cannot do this. Ralph is covered in dirt and sweat. 'A filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose'. He has no civilisation left and he was once the most civilised. This makes the reader feel sorry for him. Ralph breaks down and cries which Golding says this is 'the first time on the island'. This is odd when you think about the awful time that Ralph has been through but he is so full of emotion that he cannot help it. Soon all the other boys are joining in as well. Ralph is crying because he is guilty of doing some bad things. All of this makes me feel very sorry for Ralph because he has been through a terrible experience.

Feedback comments – Not bad but room for improvement!

  • This answer shows a fair level of understanding of the text and an attempt to develop a personal response. However, there is not enough supportive evidence quoted or analysis attempted.
  • There is a limited attempt to analyse key vocabulary or literary devices. The use of a simile is noted but it is not explained what this is, what it means or why it is being used.
  • There is an attempt to recognise the importance of the boys all crying but why they are doing so is not explored.
  • There is a reference to the effect on an audience but this needs development.
  • There are some awkward uses of vocabulary. Sentences are correctly constructed and punctuated but not always phrased well.

Sample answer 2

I feel that by the end of the novel Ralph has had some awful experiences but that he has also matured as a person and has a much better understanding of human nature. He thinks back to his arrival on the island and how it was full of 'strange glamour'; now the reality is that it is just 'scorched up like dead wood'. Golding uses an image of deadness and waste here which also shows us how Ralph is feeling inside. Some things that have happened are so awful that Ralph cannot even think about them. Golding cleverly uses ellipsis for an unfinished thought when he writes 'Jack had...'. Ralph also cannot express his feelings in words and just looks at the naval officer 'dumbly'. It is as though language itself has completely broken down. The only sound he can make is crying and soon all the other boys join him; in one sense Ralph is still their leader. All aspects of civilisation have been stripped away from him and Ralph stands there crying with 'filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose'. However, deep inside himself he has realised what Simon knew all along that 'the darkness of man's heart' was the real Beast and that it had been inside them all the whole time.

Feedback comments – Much better!

  • There is strong evidence here of a very good understanding of the text and an informed personal response to Golding's writing. References are skilfully woven into the answer. The important image of the burned island is cleverly dealt with and shows an understanding of how Golding uses symbolism.
  • There is clear evidence of language analysis and ability to use correct terminology (image, ellipsis).
  • The moment when all the boys start to cry could have been explored further. Are they simply joining in with what Ralph is doing or have they had their own moments of understanding?
  • A more detailed attempt to look at the general effect of the passage on readers would further improve the answer.
  • A well-written answer which uses correct spelling, grammar and punctuation and which aims to develop complex written sentences and use advanced vocabulary.

Using the skills you have learned and revised, try answering the Lord of the Flies question. Time yourself and make sure you are meeting the examiner's assessment objectives.