Foreshadowing in Lord of the Flies

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  • 0:00 Foreshadowing
  • 0:39 The Conch Shell
  • 1:25 Jack
  • 2:40 The Fire
  • 4:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lauren Posey

Lauren has taught intermediate reading in an English Language Institute, and she has her Master's degree in Linguistics.

Often in literature, you see foreshadowing used to give a hint about what is to come in the novel. In this lesson, you will learn about foreshadowing and how it is used in William Golding's 'Lord of the Flies'.


Sometimes when you look back at an event that happened in your life, you can see signs that hinted at what was going to happen. For example, after you and a friend get into a big fight, you might look back and realize that things had been tense for a while, or notice a time or two when your friend became really irritated, which you dismissed in the moment. When this sort of thing happens in literature, it is called foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is when certain details or situations hint at something bigger that is going to happen, and a lot of times it is easier to see the second or third time you read a book.

The Conch Shell

There are quite a few instances of foreshadowing in William Golding's Lord of the Flies. One is the discovery of the conch shell. A conch is a type of large sea snail that has really beautiful shells. The empty shells can be used as horns, which is what happens in the novel.

The foreshadowing surrounding the conch shell is based on Piggy's reaction to it. He is extremely impressed and excited, and keeps exclaiming about how valuable it is. This foreshadows how valuable the conch will be to the boys, though not monetarily. It is used to keep order, to call meetings, and to determine who is speaking at those meetings. It is their main tool for preventing chaos, and is therefore very valuable.


Another instance of foreshadowing is when we meet Jack, when he comes to the first assembly. He strides in with confidence, leading his choir group. He basically radiates authority. His attitude and entrance foreshadow the authority he will later take on, when he leaves Ralph's group to become chief of his own. It also shows us his love of authority and his belief that he deserves it. This foreshadows that he will not be content with only being in charge of his hunters, which we see as he chafes against Ralph's authority and eventually splits off to be chief himself.

We see more foreshadowing surrounding Jack a little later on in the novel. After Sam and Eric bring news of the 'beast' they saw in the forest, Jack and Ralph go out to look for it. During their trek, they come across a cave with a sort of rock wall surrounding it. Upon seeing this, Jack exclaims, 'What a place for a fort!'

His exclamation is not commented on or even noticed by Ralph at the time. However, it foreshadows the future use of this place. When Jack splits off from Ralph's group, he does indeed come back here and use this cave as his fort. This is a clear example of how a comment that seems inconsequential at the time can later become really important.

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