Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | MonkeyNotes
Although the story is exciting and fast-moving, the style of writing is a deliberate one. In order to write such a compelling novel, Golding needed to be very much in control of his material. The story can be overwhelming for us, but he had to be objective about it in order to mold it as he did.
You can see instances of his ability to make us feel a certain way in the length and kinds of sentences he uses. When he wants the action to move slowly, he uses long, deliberate sentences that slow the reader's pace, making us feel as though we too are having a leisurely time. Note the beginning of Chapter 4, when the boys have been on the island awhile: "The first rhythm that they became used to was the slow swing from dawn to quick dusk. They accepted the pleasures of morning, the bright sun, the whelming sea and sweet air, as a time when play was good and life so full that hope was not necessary and therefore forgotten." That long, graceful sentence is intended to give us a feeling for the slow passage of time and the leisurely way in which the boys spent their mornings.
When Ralph is being stalked by the boys at the climax, we feel his anxiety. Notice the short, choppy sentences that can be read quickly and that give a sensation of running. Notice also the brevity of Ralph's thoughts, as if there isn't much time to think. "Break the line. A tree. Hide, and let them pass.... Hide was better than a tree because you had a chance of breaking the line if you were discovered. Ride then."
There is also Golding's deliberate choice of words. We've seen how each character's name represents an essential aspect of his personality. On the opening page Golding gives a sense of the jungle's menace in spite of the fact that Ralph thinks it's a paradise. The choice of words gives us the clue. Piggy and Ralph are both scratched by "thorns." Piggy is trapped in the "creepers." Golding lets us know before the characters do that this isn't a friendly place.
The use of emotional material is also greatly controlled. Golding shows no sentimentality about Piggy's death as he gives the gruesome details of Piggy's twitching on the rocks.
The deliberate use of imagery enhances the meaning of the story by appealing to the senses. Simon's meditation is surrounded by butterflies, and the Lord of the Flies is covered by flies. Birds make witchlike cries, and coconuts are described as skulls.
Golding also uses a mirroring technique. At the opening of the story, when the boys explore the island, they are excited with what they find. Here the description is filled with light, color, and friendship. The second exploration recalls the first, but the boys have become leery of one another. They are searching for the beast; there are gloom, fear, and isolation in the description.