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Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is an important technique in Lord of the Flies, and Golding employs several instances of indirect foreshadowing throughout the book. Nearly every plot event is foreshadowed in the establishing chapters, creating a sense of inevitability to the events. Both character traits, such as Piggy’s emotional fragility, and plot points, such as the climactic fire that leads to the boys’ rescue, are foreshadowed heavily in the novel.

Piggy’s Death

Piggy’s Death is an important plot point in Lord of the Flies, and is foreshadowed from the first time we see his character; however, the exact nature of his death is an instance of false foreshadowing, as Golding sets up the reader to believe Piggy will die from his physical frailty, not violence. Piggy’s death signifies the end of Ralph’s fragile troop, and a victory by the forces of violence and brutality over the forces of wisdom, kindness, and civility. The death is foreshadowed in the early pages, when Piggy tells Ralph he has asthma, can’t swim, needs his glasses to see, and is sick from the fruit. “Sucks to your ass-mar!” Ralph replies, foreshadowing the boys’ lack of concern about Piggy’s physical vulnerability. When Jack breaks one of the lenses in Piggy’s glasses, the foreshadowing of his fragility is repeated, and his dependence on his glasses for survival. Later, he can’t catch his breath and “blue shadows” creep around his mouth, suggesting he will suffocate while the boys looks for the beast. That his death comes through an act of violence, instead of his own physical condition, defies the expectations set up by all the previous foreshadowing. At the same time, the fact that the boys hunt pigs foreshadows the violent nature of Piggy’s death, as when Jack says “If only I could get a pig!”

Burning of the island

Fire serves as both a life-giving source and a deadly threat in Lord of the Flies, and Golding foreshadows its critical dual roles to the resolution of the novel throughout the book. Ralph immediately understands fire’s importance as a source of heat, a way to cook meat, and, most significantly, a means of signaling passing ships and getting the boys rescued, saying “The fire’s the most important thing on the island,” several times. But the first fire the boys set burns out of control, and one of the littluns goes missing, presumably killed by the flames, foreshadowing the fire Jack sets at the end to flush out Jack so he can kill him. The importance of keeping the fire lit compared to the necessity of hunting pigs is the main source of tension between Jack and Ralph, and the final break comes between the two of them when Jack steals Piggy’s glasses, their means of lighting the fire. Jack and Ralph’s arguments about the importance of fire foreshadow fire’s ultimate role as sustainer of life, as fire, not hunting, rescues not only Ralph from his immediate danger, but all the boys from the island.

The Boys’ Rescue

One source of tension throughout the novel is the question of whether the boys will be rescued from the island, but several instances of foreshadowing suggest the boys will eventually be discovered. The anxiety about what will happen to them is established early in the book, when Piggy repeats “nobody knows where we are,” and says “the plane was shot down in flames… we may be here a long time.” Shortly after, however, Ralph insists that “there aren’t any unknown islands left… sooner or later, we shall be rescued.” At this point, the question is whether there is any civilization left to rescue them. Soon, though, a ship passes, indicating that the world beyond the island still exists. The arrival of the paratrooper also links the island to the outside world. Simon alludes to his faith that the boys will make it home, though his wording – “I just think you’ll get back all right” – omits himself from the reassurance, suggesting he has a presentiment of his own death. When the boys are finally discovered, they are on the brink of destroying Ralph and the island, so although it has been foreshadowed, their rescue still comes as a surprise.

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