Alliteration in Lord of the Flies

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In 'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding, alliteration is used as a signal to the reader that a transition is about to occur. In this lesson, we will learn more about alliteration and examine some examples of its use in 'Lord of the Flies.'

Signaling a Change

What happens when a traffic light changes color? What happens when a school bell rings? What other transition signals occur during a typical day? In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, the author frequently uses alliteration to signal a turn of events. Alliteration is a form of figurative language that draws attention to important points in the story through repetitive use of similar consonant sounds at the beginning of words. 'Lord of the Flies' is about a group of boys whose plane crashes on a deserted island, killing the pilot. With no adults to lead them, they lose their sense of civility in the fight for survival. Let's learn more about alliteration in this novel by looking at some examples.

Jack Starts a Fire

Piggy and Jack's rivalry intensifies as Jack snatches the glasses off of Piggy's face. He uses the lenses to focus the sun and start a fire, which can be used as a signal for any rescue planes that might come looking for them. Understandably, Piggy is upset, not only because he has been disrespected, but also because he is unable to see without his glasses. The other boys are so excited to have a fire that Piggy's objections are dismissed. At this point, the goal is not to live in an orderly way, but 'To keep a clean flag of flame flying on the mountain…' The use of alliteration in this passage redirects the reader's attention away from Piggy's feelings and towards the 'flag of flame', similar to how the boys were distracted from Piggy's feelings by the fire.

Ralph and Jack Vie for Leadership

Ralph is doing his best to alleviate the younger boys' fears and establish rules to bring order, but Jack has other plans. Jack wants to be in charge and seizes the opportunity when one of the young ones claims to have seen a beast. Even though he knows that the beast doesn't exist, Jack claims that he and his hunters will kill it. 'He gave a wild whoop and leapt down to the pale sand.' The other boys feel that Jack's savagery will save them, so most follow Jack. The 'wild whoop' alliteration indicates an abrupt transition as many of the boys have begun to switch loyalties.

Jack Leads His Own Tribe

When Jack fails to get Ralph voted out of his leadership position, Jack decides that he will leave the group and be the chief of his own tribe. Many of the boys follow him immediately and others sneak off during the night. Those that stay, especially Ralph, are demoralized that the group is falling apart. When Piggy suggests that they build a new fire on the beach, 'The boys began to babble.' Alliteration is once again used to indicate a transition as the boys have a renewed energy because of Piggy's plan.

Simon Meets the Lord of the Flies

Simon escapes from the other boys to enjoy a moment of peace in nature, but comes upon the pig's head on a stick that Jack and his hunters had killed earlier. It is now covered in flies. As Simon seems to be losing touch with reality, he hallucinates that the pig speaks to him, calling himself the Lord of the Flies. Simon loses consciousness, which then fades into sleep. 'He lay in the mat of creepers while the evening advanced and the cannon continued to play.' The short succession of 'c' words contributes to Simon's out of body experience as he distances himself from the barbaric new civilization.

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