Places: Lord of the Flies

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1954

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Fable

Time of work: The future, during a nuclear war

Places DiscussedPacific island

Pacific Lord of the Fliesisland. Unnamed tropical island on which the novel is mainly set. The island serves as a metaphor for society in general, providing the setting for the boys’ trials and adventures. Through the use of the only symbol of authority they have, a conch shell, they try to re-create British civilized society. The conch, like a whistle, yields an assembly of older boys and “littluns.” Throughout the novel, the group who identify themselves as choir boys, and are under the leadership of Jack, progressively stray from the civilized behavior of the assembly area and into irresponsible anarchy.

The Scar

The Scar. Meeting place where the boys, led by Ralph, hold assemblies in imitation of Great Britain’s Parliament. Created by the plane crash, free of tropical vegetation, and level and sandy, it is the site of three crude huts. It is also the site of the docking of the rescue cutter that comes ashore from the cruiser.

Mountain

Mountain. Site selected by Piggy and Ralph as the most obvious place to build a signal fire for smoke, the means of attracting rescuers. Irresponsibility by the littluns allows the fire to get out of control, taking the life of a littlun. Jack’s hunters cause the keepers of the fire to abandon it for the joy of hunting. The fire goes out; the possible rescue ship passes without seeing the smoke. The mountain is also the place of “the beast” that Simon sees.

Castle Rock

Castle Rock. Headquarters of Jack’s gang, this place is unlike the rest of the island. This piece of rock, barren of vegetation, is slightly set apart from the main part of the island. Easily defended, this rocky place is the site of the violent death first of Simon, then of Piggy, and the planned site of Ralph’s violent death. However, Ralph escapes to the thick tropical vegetation of the main island.

Altar of the “lord of the flies.”

Altar of the “lord of the flies.” Sacrificial site, located in the tropical forest, at which a slaughtered sow’s head stuck on a sharp stick drips with blood and is covered with flies. This is also the site of Simon’s hallucination or conversation with the beast, wherein he recognizes that this beast is the evil within all humanity, not an external force or form. Instead of creating fear in Simon, as it does in the hunters, this beast seems able to communicate with Simon.

Tropical jungle

Tropical jungle. Simon’s place, where he goes to observe nature and contemplate the evil and violence within each of the boys. This is also the place where Ralph finds sanctuary when the hunters set the island on fire, hoping to smoke him out and use his severed head in sacrificial ritual.

Latrine

Latrine. Communal toilet area, away from fresh water and huts, that allows a vestige of British civilization until it is abandoned by the boys in favor of irresponsible freedom.

Cruiser

Cruiser. British warship that represents safety, comfort, rescue, and civilized society, even though it may be headed into unsafe water in wartime conditions. To the boys, however, it is salvation.

BibliographyBaker, James, ed. Critical Essays on William Golding. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1988. Twelve wide-ranging essays by critics and part of Baker’s interview with Golding. Includes Golding’s Nobel Prize address.Dick, Bernard F. William Golding. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Contains a chronology of Golding’s literary career.Friedman, Lawrence S. William Golding. New York: Continuum, 1993. Sets Lord of the Flies in the context of Golding’s entire body of work. The philosophical first chapter is especially useful in focusing on significant themes and concerns.Gindin, James. William Golding. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988. A biography and survey of Golding’s literary career. Includes an enlightening comparison of Lord of the Flies with R. M. Ballantyne’s nineteenth century novel, The Coral Island.Reilly, Patrick. “Lord of the Flies”: Fathers and Sons. Boston: Twayne, 1992. Defends the novel from charges of unrelieved despair.
Categories: Places