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William Foster's "How to Read Literature Like a Professor" and William Golding's "Lord of the Flies"

An analysis of Lord of the Flies through the literary concepts presented by Foster.

Shannon O'Sullivan

on 14 September 2012

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Transcript of William Foster's "How to Read Literature Like a Professor" and William Golding's "Lord of the Flies"

An Analysis of "How to Read
Literature Like a Professor" and
"Lord of the Flies" Shannon O'Sullivan
David Healy
Nick St.Lawrence Foster's Chapter 10
It's More Than Just Rain or Snow Thesis: In literature, every type of weather has a purpose whether it is to set the tone, provide symbolism, or take place in the actual plot of the story. Foster's Examples “Here's what I think: weather is never just weather. It's never just rain. And that goes for snow, sun, warmth, cold, and probably sleet, although the incidence of sleet in my readings is too rare to generalize”(75).

“So what's special about rain? Ever since we crawled up on land, the water, it seems to us, has been trying to reclaim us”(75).

“Noah's flood, the big eraser that destroys but also allows a brand new start”(75).

Rain is also restorative...rain can bring the world back to life, to new growth, to the return of the green world”(77). “Fog, for instances, usually always signals some sort of confusion”(80).

“Snow is clean, stark, severe, warm( as an insulating blanket, paradoxically), inhospitable, inviting, playful, suffocating, filthy(after enough time)”(80).

“There are many more possibilities for weather, of course, more than we could cover in a whole book. For now, though, one does well to remember, as one starts reading a poem or a story, to check the weather”(81). Foster's Chapter 18
If She Comes Up, It's Baptism Thesis: Most forms of getting wet in literature--whether it is a full submersion into water or a drizzling rain--symbolize rebirth, which can be good or bad depending on the story Foster's Examples “But back to our soggy character. Is he rescued? Does he swim out? Grab a piece of driftwood? Rise up and walk? Each of those would imply something different on the symbolic level”(153).

“Symbolically, that's the same pattern we see in baptism: death and rebirth through the medium of water”(155).

“Not every character gets to survive the water, Often they don't want to”(155). “So there are literary drownings like Henry Jr's, and near drowning baptisms like Conrad's, but a character's baptism can also be less harrowing”(157).

“But if character's reformed every time they got wet, no book would ever have rain. The thing about baptism is, you have to be ready to receive it”(157).

“Seen this way, baptism is a sort of reenactment on a very small scale of that drowning and restoration of life”(159). Fosters Chapter 20
...So Does Seasons Thesis: Every season in literature is a symbol. Foster's Examples “Nor is the issue always age. Happiness and dissatisfaction have their seasons”(177).

“For about as long as anybody's been writing anything, the seasons have stood for the same set of meanings. Maybe it's hardwired into us that Spring has to do with childhood and youth, summer with adulthood and romance and fulfillment and passion, autumn with decline and middle age and tiredness but also harvest, winter with old age and resentment and death”(178).

“Sometimes the season isn't mentioned specifically or immediately, and this can make the matter a bit trickier”(179). “The seasons are always different, what we learn, finally as readers...is a set of patterns that can be employed in a host of ways, some of them straightforward, others ironic or subversive”(181).

“Our responses are so deeply ingrained that seasonal associations are among the easiest for the writer to upend and use ironically”(183).

“Seasons can work magic on us, and writers can work magic with seasons”(184). seasons baptism weather Foster states that weather, baptism, and seasons are strongly symbolic in literature and rarely coincidental, therefore, we conclude that William Golding use all three types of symbolism in his novel Lord of The Flies to indirectly present the deterioration of the boy's humanity throughout the literary work. Storms: chaos and dramatic change “The storm dragged it out to sea. It wasn't half dangerous with all them tree trunks falling”(8).

Up there, for once, were clouds, great bulging towers that spouted away over the island, gray and cream and copper colored”(137).

“High up among the bulging clouds thunder went off like a gun”(138).

“Revolving masses of gas piled up the static until the air was ready to explode”(145).

“All at once the thunder struck. Instead of the dull boom there was a point of impact in the explosion”(150).

“'It was dark. There was that—that bloody dance. There was lightening and thunder and rain. We was scared!'”(156).

“The storm of sound beat at them, an incantation of hatred”(180). Heat: Sign of Transformation into Savages, Threat “'We may stay here till we die'.With that word the heat seemed to increase till it became a threatening weight”(14).

“There were differences between this meeting and the one held in the morning. The afternoon sun slanted from the other side of the platform and most of the children, feeling too late the smart of sun burn, had put their clothes on”(32).

“Trees, forced by the damp heat, found too little soil for full growth, fell early, and decayed”(39).

“Sitting under what seemed to be an unusual heat, even for this island”(109).

“He sunned himself in their new respect and felt that hunting was good after all”(113).

“That other time the air seemed to vibrate with heat, now it threatened”(132).
Wind: Reminder of Harsh Reality “This wind pressed his gray shirt against his chest so that he noticed—in this new mood of comprehension—how the folds were stiff like cardboard, and unpleasant;noticed too how the frayed edges of his shorts were making an uncomfortable, pink area on the front of his thighs. With a convulsion of the mind, Ralph discovered dirt and decay, understood how much he disliked perpetually flicking the tangled hair out of his eyes”(76-77).

“The tribe considered this, and then were shaken, as if by a flow of wind”(157).

“The breaking of the conch and the death of Piggy and Simon lay over the island like a vapor”(184). Snow: Pure, Memory of Old Life “Wild ponies came to the stone wall, at the bottom of the garden, and it had snowed”(112). Regularly we connect Baptism with the Bible
and therefore think of it as a purifying action.
However, Golding uses the concept in a ironic
fashion, making the rebirth of the children a
transformation into savages, or inhumane creatures.

From the very start the platform of the airplane fell
into a body of water, and all the children with the
exception of Piggy quickly took to bathing in the warmer than blood lagoon

Note that the heat of the water they bathe in relates back to the representation of heat in the weather, which makes the children animals. “All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat”(7).

“The water was warmer than his blood and he might have been swimming in a huge bath”(12).

“Piggy shook his head “I can't swim. I wasn't allowed”(13).

“There, too, jutting into the lagoon, was the platform”(29).

Golding includes many allusions to water with
his wording, with such things as Jack's last name
to the metaphors used to describe the children's
actions as they become more and more inhumane “Why should I be Jack? I'm Merridew”(21).

“They waited for two minutes, then they fell in the sea”(46).

“So they would continue enduring the ill-balanced twister, because, because...Again he lost himself in deep waters”(77).

“A spring had been tapped, far beyond the reach of authority, or even physical intimidation”(87).

“We're all drifting and things have gotten rotten”(94).

“This day promised, like the others, to be a sunbath under a blue dome”(103).

“Once more Jack led them along by the suck and heave of the blinding sea”(116).

“The darkness seemed to flow around them like a tide”(120).

“Paying no heed to the steady fall of his tear and until he dived into the forest Ralph watched him”(127).

“He was happy and wore the damp darkness of the forest like his old clothes”(133-34).

When the children swim it shows their loss
of inhibitions and care for what happens, and
when they specifically avoid the water it
conveys responsibility and a longing for their
old life “Besides, the rest of your hunters came back hours ago. They've been swimming”(51).

“Maurice still felt the unease of wrongdoing. At the back of his mind formed the uncertain outlines of an excuse. He muttered something about a swim”(60).

“There was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill; and there was the world of longing and baffled commonsense”(71).

Suddenly, pacing, by the water, he was over come with astonishment. He found himself understanding the wearisome of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one's waking life was spent watching one's feet”(76).
The children fear this unseen Beast throughout
the novel. However, the Beast is actually the
children, and when the youngest child identifies
the origin of the Beast, the connection between
the rebirth of the children into savages is made.
“He says the beast comes out of the sea”(88). Those who do not become the beast are in the end consumed by it, which would be Simon and Piggy. “The great wave of the tide moved farther along the island and the water lifted...Simon's dead body out towards the open sea”(154).

“Then the sea breathed again in a long, slow sigh, the water boiled white and pink over the rock; and when it went, sucking back again, the body of Piggy was gone”(181). The actual season that the book takes place in
is relatively unknown, for the location of the island
means it could of been hot all year round. However
the symbolism of the seasons is clearly seen in the
four different stages identified by Golding in the day. Morning=Spring “They accepted the sweet pleasure of morning...as a time when play was good and life so full that fear was not necessary”(50).

“The bright morning was full of threats and the circle began to change. It faced out, rather than in”(100).

“The best thing to do was to ignore this leaden feeling about the heart and rely on their common sense, their daylight sanity”(184). Midday=Summer “Strange things happened at midday...the illusions merged into the sky”(58).

Afternoon/Early Evening=Fall “At the end of the afternoon, the mirage subsided...this was another time of comparative coolness, but menaced by the coming of the dark”(58).

“Though as time crept by there was a suggestion of panic in the energy and hysteria in the cheerfulness”(130).

“All at once they were aware of the evening as the end of light and warmth”(43).

“When the sun sank, darkness dropped on the island like an extinguisher”(58).

“They suffered untold terrors in the dark and huddled together for comfort”(59).

“Soon the darkness was full of claws, full of the awful unknown and menace”(99).

“Fresh rub of two spirits in the dark”(119).

“The darkness seemed to flow around them like a tide”(120).

“If it were light shame would burn them at admitting these things. But the night was dark”(188). Piggy is the only one who tries to confront
the issue of the seasons when he suggests
making a sundial, which would work as
their version of a clock. “'I've been thinking,' he said 'about a clock. We could make a sundial'”(64). “Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend Piggy”(202).
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