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Copy of Lord of the Flies Passage-Based Question January 2011
Transcript of Copy of Lord of the Flies Passage-Based Question January 2011
using the conch
Read passage and identify the main events (aim for 4); relate them to the question
Select quotations and plan carefully
Highlight key words
How does Golding's writing
situation they are in
Don't become bogged
down in minor detail;
what are the important
things that are happening?
1. Signal fire out of control; Piggy tries to maintain order
2. Conflicts within the group (Jack, Ralph, Piggy)
3. Horrifying realisation that littlun is dead
4. Raging fire and growing fear
Look for those that will be easy to analyse
Discussing other parts of the book if not directly relevant to question
General comments about 'the descent into savagery'
Missing the main point: this is the first death; that makes it very significant
Retelling the story in the passage without analysing
Discussing symbols at abstract level
Too much emphasis on foreshadowing
Put passage first
Short intro, addressing question
Approx 4 well-selected areas of focus
Clear topic sentences directed at the question
Short quotations and close analysis
Brief reflection on significance of events / symbols, etc to novel as a whole
Short introduction which adresses question and makes an evaluative assessment of the significance of the passage
Clear, short topic sentences that address the question squarely
embed short quotations (phrases or individual words) and comment in detail on the effect of the language
Key to success
The boys have allowed the signal fire to get out of control
It becomes clear that a littlun has been consumed by the fire
Ralph realises faults with his leadership
The first death
The forest burns and the littluns' fear causes them to think of snakes. Sense of foreboding
How to approach the passage-based question
Answer the question
Don't lose sight of the big picture
Close analysis of language
Stick mostly to the passage
Consider significance of events to novel
Now it's your turn
Choose your own passage to analyse for revision
How does Golding’s writing in this passage so powerfully portray the boys and the situation they are in?
In this passage, the boys have allowed signal fire to get out of control. Piggy uses the conch to attempt to maintain order but it transpires that a little ‘un has been consumed by the fire, providing the novel’s first death. Golding makes the passage particularly powerful through the way that he describes the situation using imagery and symbolism, creating a sense of inescapable doom.
There is a contrast in the ways that the boys respond to the situation of the fire. Golding describes the smoke as a ‘pall’, foreshadowing the tragedy of the death of the little ‘un ‘with the mark on his face’, before describing how Piggy ‘lost his temper’. There is a stark contrast between the boys who ‘giggle’ and ‘shriek with laughter’ and Piggy who reprimands them for acting ‘like a pack of kids’. Adopting an adult voice, he uses the simile in frustration, almost as though he is summoning an adult presence to reprimand such wilful behaviour and point out the danger of not ‘act[ing] proper’. Despite his colloquial diction, the force behind his words is enough to force the others to ‘listen to the tirade’, suggesting that he does possess an adult authority at this point in the novel, which will recede as the others give in to their base desires. Furthermore, there is an emphatic urgency in his declaration, ‘I got the conch’, which reveals the importance of this symbol of democratic reasoning at this stage.
Golding powerfully portrays the severity of the boys’ situation through the conflict between Ralph, Piggy and Jack. Upon realising that the little ‘uns, whose names have not all been recorded, ‘scattered everywhere, Ralph ‘licked pale lips.’ The adjective ‘pale’ suggests the horrified realisation of Ralph that he, as leader, has not managed to ensure that the most basic of tasks has been carried out, and that there will be inevitable tragedy as a result. In addition to this, he speaks ‘sharply’ to Piggy and ‘snatched back the conch’, as if to exert his authority, which has been significantly put into question. Piggy too recognises the implications of the situation as he ‘gasp[ed] for breath, as it dawns on him that a little ‘un cannot be accounted for. This, however, can be contrasted to Jack’s reaction as he aggressively tells Piggy to ‘shut up’: through trying to quieten Piggy, Jack seems to desire for truth to be suppressed, as he yearns to simply enjoy the freedom of a world without adults, even though such freedom will shortly be replaced with anarchy. Therefore the different reactions of the boys reveal the enormity and significance of the situation.
The most significant aspect of the situation that Golding presents in this passage is the apparent death of the ‘little ‘un ... with the mark on his face.’ Golding describes the crowd of boys as ‘silent as death’ following the revelation that he is missing. This simile powerfully conveys the horror of realisation and, by using the comparison of their silence to death, Golding suggests that the death itself seems to pervade the boys. Moreover, they ‘looked at each other fearfully, unbelieving.’ The difficulty they seem to have in believing the full horror of the situation suggests that they are not prepared to accept it as a possibility as to do so would be to accept responsibility. As the novel progresses the desire to suppress acknowledgement of their implication in the novel’s tragedies—such as the later death of Simon—lead them to act unthinkingly, as though they can convince themselves by pretending nothing has happened. In addition to this, even Ralph finds it impossible to acknowledge his part in the crime, as he ‘muttered the reply as if in shame. “Perhaps he went back to the, the—“ The fact that Ralph’s sentence is left hanging and incomplete suggests that to put words to the event would be to make it uncomfortably real.
Golding makes the terrible situation even more harrowing through the way he describes the fire. Upon the announcement that the ‘little ‘un’ is missing, ‘a tree exploded like a bomb’. This simile suggests that the tree’s combustion arrives simultaneously with the realisation that a death has occurred, as if a bomb is going off inside the boys themselves, shattering their innocence. The fire then causes the boys’ faces to be ‘lit redly from beneath’; the colour imagery here implies that they are stained by the blood of the little ‘un. Furthermore, the ‘drum-roll’ that is subsequently heard from ‘the unfriendly side of the mountain’, made by the sound of the fire, provides an ominous sense of foreboding, as if the escalating noise of havoc and destruction is escaping their control. In addition to this, the battle imagery associated with the fire evokes the war that has driven the boys to the island and foreshadows how, by the end of the novel, all of the trees—which become symbols of parental protection—will be destroyed as the boys wilfully eradicate the presence of parents.
In conclusion, Golding makes this such a powerful moment through the way that he presents the boys’ fear as they are forced to acknowledge the missing ‘little ‘un’. His use of imagery and descriptive language point forwards to the terrible events of the rest of the novel.