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The Island in Lord of the Flies: Analysis & Quotes

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  • 0:03 Landing on the Island
  • 1:11 Making a Home
  • 2:05 The Shine Wears Off
  • 3:12 Chaos in Paradise
  • 4:14 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Monica Sedore

Monica holds a master's degree and teaches 11th grade English. Previously, she has taught first-year writing at the collegiate level and worked extensively in writing centers.

'Lord of the Flies' takes place on a desert island where a group of young boys have landed after a plane crash. This lesson details the layout of the island and its importance to the story.

Landing on the Island

For the boys of Lord of the Flies, the island represents both their temporary home as well as their prison. There is no escape, unless they can signal to a passing boat or plane using a fire. From what they can tell, it 'was roughly boat-shaped: humped near this end with behind them the jumbled descent to the shore. On either side rocks, cliffs, treetops and a steep slope: forward there, the length of the boat, a tamer descent, tree-clad, with hints of pink: and then the jungly flat of the island, dense green, but drawn at the end to a pink tail.' The primary parts of the island are the the mountain on one end of the island; Castle Rock, a pink stone formation on the other end; the beach where the boys washed up after the plane crash; the jungle in the middle of the island; and the lagoon, 'a long, deep pool in the beach with a high ledge of pink granite at the further end.' In this apparent paradise, the boys initially think of themselves as kings unfettered by the demands of grownups. While the island appears to be a place of freedom, it actually traps the boys, physically and mentally.

Making a Home

Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the island is the lagoon, created by 'some act of God--a typhoon perhaps, or the storm...' that had brought the boys' plane down. The pool 'was only invaded by the sea at high tide' with a temperature that Ralph finds 'warmer than his blood and he might have been swimming in a huge bath.' Initially, this island discovery brings the boys great joy. What could be better than a warm lagoon in which to swim on their own private island?

It is from the lagoon that Ralph and Piggy pull the conch, a shell which is used to signify leadership and control amongst the boys on the island. In this way, the lagoon symbolizes acceptance of their presence on the island. To pull such a rare gift as a conch shell from the lagoon means to them that they are welcomed and wanted. The island does not wish to be rid of the boys; rather, it wishes to reward the boys for their presence.

The Shine Wears Off

Because the island is covered primarily by a jungle, the boys are largely confined to their camp on the beach and near the lagoon. On the two opposite ends of the island, separated by the jungle, are the mountain and Castle Rock, 'a pink cliff surmounted by a skewed block; and that again surmounted, and that again, till the pinkness became a stack of balanced rock projecting through the looped fantasy of the forest creepers.' The top of the mountain is used for building the signal fire, as it is the highest point on the island. Castle Rock, on the other hand, becomes the home base of Jack and his hunters.

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