lord of the flies essay questions gcse

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How does William Golding set the scene for the novel in the opening chapter?

The opening chapter of ‘Lord of the Flies’ is very effective in laying the foundation for the rest of the plot. Characters become instantly recognizable and significant. The surroundings around the characters become very clear and leave you with a vivid image in your mind whilst reading. Also, the use of the language helps the situation become familiar, with spectacular detail being during descriptions. All of these factors together help build a very strong and effective chapter as the script from then on becomes vaguely predictable, with the readers expecting to know the characters and lay out well enough to recognise their reactions to any/all situations that may arise.

The introduction of characters opens the chapter in suspense as all is not revealed immediately: “ The fair boy & the fat boy.” Golding’s approach in the opening chapter to the characters is effective as it doesn’t introduce them by name, but more by personality type. Upon reading this, you automatically believe you know the two characters and feel comfortable envisaging the two children stranded on an island rather young and clueless to the dangers of the island, with the concept of no food, water, shelter or food not phasing them. This also shows their immaturity, as a normal adult would immediately try to work a logical & strategic yet plausible plan of getting back to reality or how to survive. The fact that later on ‘the fat boy’ later is addressed by ‘Piggy’ strengthens the stereotype placed upon him, with ‘the fair boy’ being given quite a polite and gentle name of Ralph.

William Golding’s use of descriptive language builds a clear image of the scenery: “ All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat” . Such attention to detail allows us as the readers to be part of the story, placing us right in the scenery. The use of onomatopoeia such as ‘smash’ put emphasis on the beforehand scenes we aren’t exposed to, as we aren’t told they’re in a plane crash, yet the fact the scar ‘smashed’ into the island lets us know it was something with pretty heavy impact, it is quite a violent term. Describing it as a ‘Scar’ also tells a story as you regard a scar as being something unsightly and unwelcomed, possibly damaging attractive scenery. It shows us that it has damaged the island significantly. The metaphor ‘scar’ may also imply that the damage caused was irreversible as scars often are, which in turn just emphasises the impact the children/previous events have had on the island.

The way the characters are portrayed hints at a possible chance of survival: “Nobody don’t know we’re here”. During a conversation early on between Piggy & Ralph, Piggy intends to inform Ralph they’re stranded as no-one actually knows they’re there, but in matter of fact expresses that somebody does in fact know they’re on the island. This is because the double negative comment actually contradicts itself, and by intending to say nobody knows their whereabouts’ he actually does the opposite. This could be argued that Golding is doing this intentionally to push you to read on by leaving you, in a sense, subliminal messages. This also shows the importance of the characters personality type, as Piggy can be perceived as quite ‘dopey’, and only through him can William Golding voice such un-educated comments, and effectively and at the same time very cleverly hint at survival.      

The conch acts as a means of authority and Ralph soon becomes graced with power: “The children gave him the same simple obedience that they had given to the men with megaphones”. This shows Ralph as the natural leader and puts him in the same figure head roll as the parents. The conch shows authority and is soon likened to the megaphones of the parents. It almost shows Ralph as a religious symbol, as if he has the power of God now he has full control of the island, and everyone is at his lead while he stands on a rock taller than everyone there with the conch. It is argued that this is a very important factor during the opening chapter of ‘Lord of the Flies’ as you wonder whether the conch is going to fall into the wrong hands, and in turn, the authority and power that comes with it – soon over powering the natural but fair leader; Ralph.

Some of the aspects previously mentioned lead me to believe the ‘Lord of the Flies’ is going to be very eventful and could go either way in terms of surviving or making it off the island. After simply reading just the first chapter I find myself wanting to get answers to such questions as “How can a series of young boys create a survival plan and make it off the island?” or “was Piggy deliberately talking in double negatives to make us believe on thing contrary to another?” William Golding has created a very effective opening scene and should appeal to a vast audience, urging them to read on further after appealing so strongly during the opening chapter.

lord of the flies essay questions gcse

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lord of the flies essay questions gcse

William Golding

Study Help Essay Questions

1. In Chapter 5, Golding writes, "In a moment the platform was full of arguing, gesticulating shadows. To Ralph, seated, this seemed the breaking up of sanity." How is sanity defined? How does this novel contribute to an understanding of sanity and of madness? What are some other instances of madness in the novel?

2. Explain Piggy's point of view when he responds, "Course there aren't [ghosts] . . . 'Cos things wouldn't make sense. Houses an' streets, an' — TV — they wouldn't work" (Chapter 5). What does Piggy mean when he says that technology couldn't function if a supernatural beings existed?

3. Ralph says in Chapter 12 "there was that indefinable connection between himself and Jack; who therefore would never let him alone; never." What is that connection? How does it develop and what does it signify?

4. When Simon sees the Lord of the Flies, Golding writes that his "gaze was held by that ancient inescapable recognition" (Chapter 8). What recognition is Golding referring to?

5. Why does Simon's role as a visionary make him an outcast in the group? What other visionaries have been outcasts in their societies?

6. How does Golding use color to link Jack with the Lord of the Flies? Are there other instances of Golding using color to link characters or provide symbolism?

7. In Chapter 11, when Ralph announces that he's calling an assembly, he is greeted with silence. How do silence and speech function in this novel, and why is silence so threatening to the boys?

8. In Chapter 3, Piggy asks the boys "How can you expect to be rescued if you don't put first things first and act proper?" What does Piggy mean by "act proper?" Why does he feel acting properly will bring them success in being rescued? Contrast this sentiment to the actual reason a rescue ship spots their smoke signal.

9. Who or what is being described with this phrase: "There was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill, and there was the world of longing and baffled common-sense" (Chapter 4)? How do the two worlds represent facets of humanity?

10. Describe some of the ways the vision of a human "at once heroic and sick" (Chapter 6) is represented in the novel and within the larger context of history as well. Does Golding prescribe a remedy for the "sickness"?

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