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Lord of the Flies

William Golding
Main Ideas

Allusions

Main Ideas Allusions

Chapter 1: The Sound of the Shell

Historical

“He must have flown off after he dropped us. He couldn’t land here. Not in a plane with wheels.” “We was attacked!” “He’ll be back all right.” . . . “When we was coming down I looked through one of them windows. I saw the other part of the plane. There were flames coming out of it.”

This is an allusion to World War II with its violence and brutality, which informed Golding’s writing of Lord of the Flies.

Religious

Then he leapt back on the terrace, pulled off his shirt, and stood there among the skull-like coconuts with green shadows from the palms and the forest sliding over his skin. He undid the snake-clasp of his belt, lugged off his shorts and pants, and stood there naked, looking at the dazzling beach and the water.”

This quote contains several allusions: The tropical paradise is an allusion to the Garden of Eden, Ralph taking off his clothes is an allusion to the naked innocence of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the green shadows on Ralph’s skin and the belt’s “snake-clasp” are an allusion to Satan, who appears as a snake in the Garden of Eden.

Religious

Ralph said nothing. Here was a coral island. Protected from the sun, ignoring Piggy’s ill-omened talk, he dreamed pleasantly.

This is an allusion to the Garden of Eden and Adam’s innocence before he gained knowledge of good and evil.

Literary

“This is real exploring,” said Jack. “I bet nobody’s been here before.” “We ought to draw a map,” said Ralph, “only we haven’t any paper.” “We could make scratches on bark,” said Simon, “and rub black stuff in.”

This is an allusion to popular adventure stories like The Coral Island, which Golding saw as unrealistic portrayals of what would happen if boys were stranded on an island.

Religious

Eyes shining, mouths open, triumphant, they savored the right of domination. They were lifted up: were friends.

This is an allusion to Genesis, in which God gives Adam dominion over all living creatures.

Chapter 2: Fire on the Mountain

Literary

“It’s like in a book.” At once there was a clamor. “Treasure Island—” “Swallows and Amazons—” “Coral Island—” Ralph waved the conch. “This is our island. It’s a good island. Until the grownups come to fetch us we’ll have fun.”

This quote contains allusions to the adventure books Treasure Island, Swallows and Amazons, and The Coral Island.

Religious

“Tell us about the snake-thing.” “Now he says it was a beastie.” “Beastie?” “A snake-thing. Ever so big. He saw it.”

The snake is an allusion to Satan, who takes the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden and causes the downfall of Adam and Eve.

Chapter 3: Huts on the Beach

Religious

“As if it wasn’t a good island.” Astonished at the interruption, they looked up at Simon’s serious face. “As if,” said Simon, “the beastie, the beastie or the snake-thing, was real. Remember?” The two older boys flinched when they heard the shameful syllable. Snakes were not mentioned now, were not mentionable.

The beast and the snake are allusions to Satan, who entered the Garden of Eden and caused Adam and Eve to gain knowledge of good and evil and, as a result, to be sent away from paradise.

Religious

Then, amid the roar of bees in the afternoon sunlight, Simon found for them the fruit they could not reach, pulled off the choicest from up in the foliage, passed them back down to the endless, outstretched hands. When he had satisfied them he paused and looked round. The littluns watched him inscrutably over double handfuls of ripe fruit.

Simon handing fruit to the “littluns” is an allusion to Christ feeding the multitudes in the New Testament of the Bible.

Religious

Simon turned away from them and went where the just perceptible path led him. . . . Simon paused. He looked over his shoulder as Jack had done at the close ways behind him and glanced swiftly round to confirm that he was utterly alone.

This is an allusion to Christ retreating alone into the wilderness to fast and pray.

Chapter 5: Beast from Water

Religious

Beast from Water

The title of chapter five is an allusion to “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea” (Revelation 13:1).

Religious

“Things are breaking up. I don’t understand why. We began well; we were happy. And then—"

This is an allusion to the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, where everything felt like paradise until they gained the knowledge of good and evil.

Religious

I was asleep when the twisty things were fighting and when they went away. I was awake, and I saw something big and horrid moving in the trees.

This is an allusion to Satan, who, appearing as a serpent in the Garden of Eden, convinces Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, an event that leads to the downfall of humankind.

Chapter 6: Beast from Air

Religious

Beast from Air

The title of chapter six is an allusion to the dead pilot who the boys think is the beast, which is an allusion to “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast” (Revelation 13:3).

Political

But a sign came down from the world of grownups, though at the time there was no child awake to read it. There was a sudden bright explosion and corkscrew trail across the sky; then darkness again and stars. There was a speck above the island, a figure dropping swiftly beneath a parachute, a figure that hung with dangling limbs.

This is an allusion to World War II with is death and destruction, which informed Golding’s writing of Lord of the Flies about humanity’s capacity for evil.

Chapter 8: Gift for the Darkness

Religious

The beast comes out of the sea—

This is an allusion to the beast in the Book of Revelation: “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea” (Revelation 13:1).

Religious

Presently he was thirsty, and then very thirsty. He continued to sit.

This is an allusion to Christ fasting in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights.

Religious

This head is for the beast. It’s a gift.” The silence accepted the gift and awed them.

This is an allusion to “And they worshipped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” (Revelation 13:4).

Religious

“What are you doing out here all alone? Aren’t you afraid of me?” Simon shook. “There isn’t anyone to help you. Only me. And I’m the Beast.”

This is an allusion to the Devil tempting Christ during his forty days and forty nights in the wilderness.

Religious

“We’re going to have fun on this island. Understand? We are going to have fun on this island! So don’t try it on, my poor misguided boy or else—"

The talking pig’s head, representing the Lord of the Flies or the Devil, is an allusion to “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies” (Revelation 13:5).

Chapter 9: A View to a Death

Religious

He pushed on, staggering sometimes with his weariness but never stopping. The usual brightness was gone from his eyes and he walked with a sort of glum determination like an old man. A buffet of wind made him stagger and he saw that he was out in the open, on rock, under a brassy sky. He found his legs were weak and his tongue gave him pain all the time.

This is an allusion to Christ walking to his crucifixion.

Literary

A thing was crawling out of the forest. It came darkly, uncertainly. The shrill screaming that rose before the beast was like a pain. The beast stumbled into the horseshoe.

This is an allusion to Pentheus, who is mistaken for a lion coming out of the forest and killed by his mother, Agave, in the Greek tragedy The Bacchae by Euripides.

Religious

The water rose farther and dressed Simon’s coarse hair with brightness. The line of his cheek silvered and the turn of his shoulder became sculptured marble.

This is an allusion to a religious saint depicted as a haloed sculpture.

Chapter 12: Cry of the Hunters

Historical

A naval officer stood on the sand, looking down at Ralph in wary astonishment. On the beach behind him was a cutter, her bows hauled up and held by two ratings. In the stern-sheets another rating held a sub-machine gun.

The image of the naval cutter with its guns is an allusion to World War II and the destruction and killing of war away from the island, back in “civilization.”

Literary

Jolly good show. Like the Coral Island.

This is an allusion to the adventure book The Coral Island, which presents an idealized version of boys’ adventures on a deserted island.

Religious

Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness in man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.

This is an allusion to Adam and Eve’s fall from innocence in the Garden of Eden after they break God’s rule stating that they shall not eat from the Tree of Knowledge.

Historical

He turned away to give them time to pull themselves together; and waited, allowing his eyes to rest on the trim cruiser in the distance.

This is an allusion to World War II and the dark side of humanity that exists in the adult world of law and order, the world to which the boys are returning.