Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | MonkeyNotes
The story takes place on an island in the ocean, an island the author never actually locates in the real world. He does this so that you can imagine most of the island in your own way. You might even want to draw a map of the island, locating on it all the features listed below (the capitalized words). You will be exploring and getting to know the island in the same way that the boys have to, that is, little by little. If you include each of the sections, you will be able to follow the story more closely. A map will also let you experience how terribly trapped Ralph must have felt when he was being stalked by Jack.
The author tells us that the island is tropical and shaped like a boat. At the low end are the jungle and the orchards, which rise up to the treeless and rocky mountain ridge.
The BEACH near the warm water LAGOON is where Piggy and Ralph first talk and find the conch. This is also where they hold their meetings. The author calls it a "natural platform of fallen trees."
Not far away is the FRUIT ORCHARD where the boys can eat all they want and Ralph complains when the boys are "taken short."
Inland from the lagoon is the JUNGLE with PIG TRAILS and hanging vines which the "littluns" fear. Here Jack hunts the pigs, and then Ralph, and this is where the beast supposedly lives. The jungle is also Simon's hiding place when he goes to see the candle bushes. In the same area he sees the pig's head that Jack mounted on a stake.
The island has a MOUNTAIN that Ralph, Simon, and Jack climb, and from which they are able to see the terrain. This is where the boys are supposed to keep a fire going and where the parachutist landed on the rocks.
Finally, there is the CASTLE at the other end of the island, which rises a hundred feet above the sea. This is where the first search for the beast is made. It becomes Jack's headquarters when he declares himself chief, and it is from the castle that Piggy falls to his death on the rocks below.
Golding gives us a very strong sense of place, and the island shapes the story's direction. At the outset the boys view it as a paradise; it is lush and abundant with food. As the fear of the beast grows, it becomes a hell in which fire and fear prevail.
The island setting works as a metaphor for the world. The boys are trapped on the island as we are trapped on this planet. What happens there becomes a commentary on our world. The island is also described as a boat, and the boys feel they are men about to embark on an adventure. When the story closes, a boat has landed on the island. The boys' first adventure is over, but they are about to begin another.