In this essay I will be answering how the opening prepares the reader for the rest of the novel. I will look at how the book introduces Ralph and Piggy into the novel and their initial impressions of each other and the island. I will also be writing about how the opening words and phrases suggest the progression of events that later occur, and how the writers concerns, that all mankind is evil, start to appear here.
Ralph is the first person that Piggy meets after the crash, and I think that from the very start, a kind of trust is built between them. They don’t know yet they are alone or if there are others, so there isn’t any unfriendliness between them. Though Ralph does give the impression that he doesn’t like Piggy very much. But Ralph is tolerant, a vital quality for any leader, and Piggy’s respect for him only increases. We can sense this when it says, ” The fair boy began to pick his way as casually as possible towards the water. He tried to be offhand and not to obviously uninterested, but the fat boy hurried after him.
The initial impression we are given of Ralph is that he’s a born leader, fun loving, and sensible. These characteristics are clearly shown when it says, “In the middle of the scar he stood on his head and grinned at the reversed fat boy.” His ability to think logically is also proven when he says, “He must have flown off after he dropped us. He couldn’t land here. Not in a plane with wheels.” Being the son of an officer, he has probably learnt a lot of discipline from his father.
The initial impression we are given of Piggy is that he is friendly, intelligent and has common sense. Even though Piggy doesn’t know Ralph, he is the one instigating the conversation. It is clear from the way Piggy speaks that he is a cockney, and from working class background, this is shown when he says, “All them other kids,” and, “We was attacked!” Though he proves his intelligence when he and Ralph are trying to piece together what happened in the crash and says, “The storm dragged it out to sea. It wasn’t half dangerous with all them trunks falling. There must have been some kids still on it.” Shortly after he says this he is described hesitating before carrying on, which gives the impression that he is quite self-conscious and unconfident.
The language used in the opening especially the first couple of paragraphs, hint greatly at the later developments in the novel, such as the introduction of evil and danger. A good example of this occurrence is, “…when a bird, a vision of red and yellow, flashed upwards with a witch-like cry; and this cry was echoed by another.” The reference to the bird’s colours, red and yellow, co notates images of fire, which in turn instigates the idea of evil and anger. These are all regular themes in the novel, some examples are, when there was a fire on the mountain in which the boy with the mark on his face got killed, when Jack and the others set the island on fire in an attempt to kill Ralph, and there are several heated arguments mainly instigated between Ralph and Jack. The fire represents the hope of being rescued, and going home, both these occur in the novel. The description of the bird’s cry is described as being witch-like; this refers to a witches cackle, another symbol of evil as well as enchantment. Even the way it’s described being seen, by using words like, vision and flashed, images of psychic insight or 6th sense occurrence are encouraged. These themes come about with the character Simon, for example when he reassures Ralph that he knows he will get back all right.
By choosing such an early part of the story to be hinting at such later events, it shows the reader how Golding sees the world through pessimistic eyes. The story has barely been given a chance to get going when he is already hinting at evil and wrong doing, and though things may seem perfect and innocent, that sooner or later it is ruined and condemned by evil. The island could be seen as a symbolic connotation of the Garden of Eden, a perfect paradise, untouched by mankind until humans came and made evil. His view that mankind is evil is a running theme throughout.
In answer to the question how does the opening prepare the reader for the rest of the novel, I think that he does it well through the use of words and phrases. The novel is an allegory to convey Golding’s message about, “The darkness of mankind.” In the opening passage, nothing much happens, this tells us that it is a slow pace book and we are only told the information we need to understand it; the rest is left to our imaginations.