A pack of boys crash-land on a desolate island and are left to survive on their own without the influence of society. After the boys struggle with their animal nature the protagonist, Ralph, gazes at the ocean and contemplates their deteriorating civilization. Golding expresses the idea that the boys will not be rescued from the island because of their savage nature through the use of personification, syntax, and juxtaposition. Through the combined use of personification and animal imagery Golding expresses the progression of the boy’s savagery, which prevents them from being rescued.
For example, at one point Ralph observes, “…[the waves] gather with a roar, irresistibly swelling over point and outcrop, climbing the little cliff…” (125). The ocean is portrayed as a wild animal climbing the cliff towards the boys as if hunting them, similarly to the rise of the boy’s subconscious beast. This action is described as “irresistible”, indicating the boys cannot defy instinctual behavior. At the same time the ocean is a physical barrier, as well as a mental barrier, between the boys and civilized society.
The ocean is a literal blockade as well as a symbol for savagery; therefore the animal behavior also prevents them from being rescued. Furthermore, the “… retreating water, would sink past the rocks and plaster down the seaweed like shining hair…” (125). Throughout the novel hair is an effigy of savagery, so the personification of seaweed as hair connects the boys to the ocean, which emphasizes the boy’s connection to their savage nature. In addition, as Ralph looks out at the ocean “…the almost infinite size of this water forced itself on his attention” (125).
Golding personifies the water, a symbol for the boy’s savagery, as an irresistible force that the boys cannot suppress. Since the boys cannot control their animal behavior, they will never be rescued from the island. In addition to animal imagery and personification Golding also uses syntax to convey his message. Golding shows the boy’s hopeless goal of being rescued through the use of syntax. For example, he writes “…one was clamped down, one was helpless, one was condemned, one was—” (125).
By repeating “one”, the author shows that the boy’s animalistic need for independence and their refusal to cooperate with each other is a driving force in their continued isolation on the island. The connotation of the verbs become increasingly negative, progressing from “clamped down” to “helpless” to “condemned”. As time progresses the boy’s society changes in a similar manner, becoming steadily worse as their savagery increases. The final word “condemned” foreshadows that the boys will be trapped on the island until they die.
Finally, the sentence ends abruptly in a dash to emphasize the difficulty of the boy’s situation. The situation is bad enough that Ralph’s fear is so great he can’t even bring himself to think the final word, which is assumed to be “dead”. Golding also uses juxtaposition to convey a similar message. The author juxtaposes the harsh reality of the boy’s situation with their dream of escaping the island. For instance, “The filmy enchantments of mirage could not endure the cold ocean water…” (124).
Regardless of how strongly Ralph wishes they could be rescued the harsh truth of the boy’s barbaric situation prevents the “mirage” from becoming a reality. Golding juxtaposes the ocean water, which represents their savagery, with the mirage, which symbolizes the goal of getting off the island, to emphasize that the boys are trapped on the island because their animal nature overpowers their desire for rescue. According to Golding, “On the other side of the island… one might dream of rescue…” (125).
This again states that the possibility of rescue is only a dream; they are stranded on the island behaving like savages. Golding connects order to unreality when he writes that the boy’s and their dream are “…defended by the shield of the quiet lagoon…” (125). By juxtaposing the lagoon with the violent ocean, Golding connects the lagoon to the similarly compared mirage. This is where the conch, a symbol of order and authority, was first discovered, which shows that order itself is an unattainable dream.
Using personification, syntax, and juxtaposition Golding shows that the boys are trapped on the island because of their animalistic behavior. This behavior is shown as an irresistible pull present in all humans that prevents them from working together to accomplish their dream-like goals. Despite how humans wish to believe they can create a civilized society, the barbaric instincts in all of mankind prevent the creation of a utopian civilization.