Lord of the Flies, Chapter 1

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Write an analysis of the opening chapter of Lord of the Flies. How effective is it at introducing the characters, concerns and language of the novel?

The first chapter of the novel, The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding is effective in establishing the characters, concerns and language for the remainder of the book, as well as introducing the main themes of the novel; that the problems in society are related to the sinful nature of man and good verses evil. In Golding's first chapter, the main characters are introduced, we see many ominous signs of what's to come through the authors choice of language and the beginning of rivalries, issues and concerns are portrayed which are to continue throughout the rest of the book. The microcosm on the Island is presented from an early stage, as well as themes that emerge and remain important throughout the novel.

Golding introduces the three main characters in the first chapter individually. Ralph, the main protagonist, is tall with fair hair and is introduced first. His attitude when first realising there are no grown-ups around is excitement, and he is looking forward to the prospect of being free of adults. In stark contrast, the second character to be introduced, Piggy, "was shorter than the fair boy and very fat". These two complete opposites are introduced into the situation very early on, to show the differences and varieties within society. Jack, the last main character to be introduced, is described by Golding as "tall, thin and bony…. his face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness." Jack is the only other character who is close in physical stature to Ralph, and is from the onset described as a leader.

Ralph, from the second page, seems to have taken control of the situation on the island. Golding reaches this conclusion of the boy effectively through his conversation with Piggy; "This is an island…. That's a reef out to sea." These statements show Ralph to have intelligence to make conclusions on his own accord, and we are able to see the character can think for himself. Continuing through the first chapter, after the meeting with the conch, we see Ralph as a natural leader, "there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out…. Ralph raised is hand for silence" throughout the clamour of choosing a leader, we see Ralph is willing for others to get their say, yet he is still able to have control over the situation and manages to leave the group in awe of him. Throughout the first meeting, Ralph is perceived as someone who does good, such as calling all the boys together, yet he is not so out of touch that he can't relate to the normal temptations in life. These qualities Golding describes Ralph to have in this first chapter, and incredibly important for the remainder of the novel.

It is no surprise that Piggy's nickname is such. When Golding introduces the character, he has just come out of the bushes, after suffering from diarrhoea through eating too many unripe berries. The author continually relates to the fact that the boy is fat, and in many descriptions, Golding blatantly says this such as "The fat boy looked startled". As we progress through the early pages, we learn more of Piggy's appearance through the conversation between Piggy and Ralph. "I've been wearing specs since I was three". With these continual descriptions, we are able to obtain a vivid and detailed image of this fat boy. The specs that Piggy wears are a symbol of his intelligence that is to be superior to the other boys. Individuals that wear glasses have always been considered to be intelligent and smart, and Piggy is no exception to this. His constant attempts to unite the group of boys under the "laws" of the conch are to try to establish the same society of that in the "old counties" and of what they are used to. Piggy is not a natural leader – he has the brains, but not the courage. We can see this when Golding describes the boys reaction to the loud and...
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