The ‘scar’ to which Golding refers is mysterious and at the moment we can only speculate about how it was formed. The ‘scar’ may be an indicator to what will happen to the boy we are introduced to at the start of the novel. Around the island there are more signs of violence, for instance Golding mentions the coarse grass which is rough underfoot leading to a palm tree grave yard. The fallen palm trees are another indicator about the violence already on the island. They may symbolise that nothing grows old there and the boy may follow suit.
The island can also deceive; it gives the boy a huge, warm pond which was described as a ‘huge bath’. From these first couple of pages I have already found out that the island is something to be wary of, and things may not be as inviting as they seem.
When the novelty of the island wore off, the seriousness dawned on them. One boy named piggy claimed that the atom bomb had killed everyone and whimpered ‘We may stay here till we die.’ Golding went on to write;
“With that word the heat seemed to increase till it became a threatening weight and the lagoon attacked them with blinding effulgence.”
Golding’s mention of the heat being a ‘threatening weight’ and the lagoon ‘attacking’ the boys is further proof of the growing violence. By personifying the lagoon Golding may be trying to inject more violence into the boy’s surroundings.
Just after demonising the island Golding mentions the good parts of the island, for instance the inviting ‘green shade’, which he goes on to do throughout the book in an attempt to balance it out.
A couple of pages later the two boys, Ralph and Piggy, find a conch. From a distance it appears to hold no evil and the boys are drawn towards it in a frenzy of excitement. Once it is fished out of the water they look on the conch as the purest item on earth, but as we found out earlier in the novel, things are not always as they seem;
“In colour the conch was deep cream, touched here and there with faded pink. Between the point, worn away into a little hole, and the pink lips of the mouth, lay eighteen inches of the shell with a slight spiral twist and covered with a delicate, embossed pattern.”
The colour Golding described the conch as having may be more important than you may think. The flecks of pink dotted around the conch may symbolise blood, or the bloodshed the conch may drive the boys to perform. The ‘delicate’ pattern the conch is said to have may be a little misleading too. As the conch is physically brittle, it is still ’emotionally’ strong and may give the reader the wrong view on the importance of the conch.
Once Ralph had figured out how to blow the conch, he was able to call any other survivors and not long after his first blast on the conch many of them had arrived at Ralph and Piggy’s location. It appears to be a merry time but as the book has proved on countless occasions, things are not as they seem, and Golding’s way of balancing out the novel means evil is a foot;
“As the echoes died away so did the laughter, and there was silence.
Within the diamond haze of the beach something dark was fumbling along. Ralph saw it first, and watched till the intentness of his gaze drew all eyes that way. Then the creature stepped from mirage on to clear sand, and they saw that the darkness was not all shadow but mostly clothing.”
The creature is in fact a boy who it seems Golding has demonised, even before the reader has had a chance to make their own opinion. It’s as though Golding wants us to be sure of the evil in this boy from the start. Golding attempts to cement this belief by saying he is the ‘controller’ without compassion as he led his choir to exhaustion. Piggy senses evil;
“Piggy asked no names. He was intimidated by this uniformed superiority and the offhand authority in Merridew’s voice.”
Piggy, realising his vulnerability to Merridew, ‘secure’ on the other side of Ralph attempted to join the conversation but Merridew’s arrogance thwarted his effort. Merridew’s evil shows again when Ralph asks him what he would like to do with them. Instead of branding them workers or just citizens of the island like everyone else, he declares them his ‘hunters’.
Merridew’s violence seemed to rub off on Ralph because when he, Merridew and Simon found a large, pink rock on a fact finding mission, they decided to push it off a cliff;
“The great rock loitered, poised on one toe, decided not to return, moved through the air, fell, struck, turned over, leapt droning through the air and smashed a deep hole in the canopy of the forest. Echoes and birds flew, white and pink dust floated, the forest further down shook as with the passage of an enraged monster: and then the island was still.”
The pushing of a large rock over the edge is another direct act of violence to the island, and the ‘enraged monster’ may not be able to keep hidden for much longer.
Once the three explorers reached the square top of the mountain and realised that it as indeed an island, they surveyed it and claimed it as theirs. On the beach where the meeting had taken place they could see the ‘insect-like figures’ moving and Ralph and Merridew felt the power to control them and crush them.
While they were up there they debated what to do, Ralph said ‘There’s no village smoke, and no boats’ and makes sure it’s uninhabited but Merridew shows his evil by shouting ‘hunt’.
At the end of the first chapter the three are on their way to the meeting area and come across a trapped piglet. Merridew rushes forward with a drawn knife ready to give a downward stroke on its neck. He proves he is not completely evil because he can not kill the defenceless animal.
In the beginning of the second chapter there is another meeting in the evening, to try and convey as much information to everyone as possible. Ralph, as leader, has the task of doing this, he starts by saying it’s uninhabited, but Merridew breaks in;
“All the same you need an army – for hunting. Hunting pigs-.”
Golding is always trying to show Merridew as the evil character, even though he managed to show compassion by not killing the piglet. Merridew is also intent on creating rules but more importantly for him, dealing with people who break them;
” ‘We’ll have rules!’ he cried excitedly. ‘Lots of rules! Then when anyone breaks ’em-‘ “
From Merridew’s words we get the idea that a false sense of power is being created in his head and that is possibly why he feels he can get away with his evil actions on the island. It may be created by his false sense of ownership of the island and the inhabitants, and his absolute power over the choir.
Later on in chapter two some of the young boys start to complain about a ‘beastie’. The ‘beastie’ on the island is the first sure sign of the island hitting back. Earlier on when the three boys pushed the rock of the cliff, Golding said it was like awakening a monster, and now it has come to haunt everyone in their minds. Ralph dismisses the ‘beastie’ as the young boy’s imagination playing tricks with him, and denies its existence. Merridew seeing his chance to take control acts the hero;
“Ralph’s right of course. There isn’t a snake-thing. But if there was a snake we’d hunt it and kill it. We’re going to hunt pigs and get meat for everybody. And we’ll look for the snake too-“
By now Ralph is getting quite annoyed by having to repeat ‘But there isn’t a snake!’, but he was defeated by Merridew’s speech and un-able to come back.
Merridew was quite clever with that speech because he has now secured the support of the younger children, and now has support for killing the pigs, even though he knows the ‘beastie’ is imaginary.
I think Golding means something different by the term ‘beastie’, he may mean that what the children are going to become by the beast, and by pushing the rock over the edge the children have taken the first steps from innocence, and will eventually end up at savagery. The pushing of the rock must mean then the swaying on the brink with only a small push needed to turn to murderers.
The third direct act of violence towards the island was the signal fire the newly formed tribe built. It started as a small fire, but quickly spread through the dry or dead undergrowth;
“Small flames stirred at the bole of a tree and crawled away through leaves and brushwood, dividing and increasing. The heart of flame leapt nimbly across the gap between the trees and then went swinging and flaring along the whole row of them. Beneath the capering boys a quarter of a mile of forest was savage with smoke and flame.”
Since the boys arrived at the island they have done nothing but scar and burn the place and, although they don’t know it yet, they have already killed one of the ‘little ‘un’s’, the boy with the mulberry coloured birthmark.