Study Guide

Lord of the Flies Innocence

By William Golding

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Chapter 2

"You got your small fire all right." […] the boys were falling still and silent, feeling the beginnings of awe at the power set free below them. (2.210)

Piggy points out that the boys have set half the island on fire, and, like little arsonists, everyone goes nuts until they realize that this is Not Good. Oops. But it seems like they also realize that they have power for the first time in their lives. No one's going to take away their TV privileges for burning up the firewood. Is this a loss of innocence? Acting without fear of punishment sounds like it to us.

Chapter 3

Then, amid the roar of bees in the afternoon sunlight, Simon found for [the littluns] the fruit they could not reach, pulled off the choicest from up in the foliage, passed them back down to the endless, outstretched hands. (3.138)

Talk about innocent: Simon is the only one who bothers helping the littluns out, totally disregarding all the savage power struggles going on behind his back. (Also, notice the difference between Simon innocently picking fruit—how Edenic—and Jack killing a boar?)

Chapter 6

[Simon saw] the picture of a human at once heroic and sick. (6.140)

Simon doesn't go out and put a spear up the butt of a dying pig, but he does lose his innocence in another way: he realizes that we're the beasts. Heroic, sure—but sick. You know, fallen.

Even the sounds of nightmare from the other shelters no longer reached him, for he was back to where came from, feeding the ponies with sugar over the garden wall. (6.42)

When Ralph dreams, he dreams about feeding sugar to ponies. When he wakes up, the twins are babbling about the beast. Yep, sounds like a loss of innocence to us.

Chapter 12

The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy. (12.248)

Ralph may be weeping like a kid, but he's not a child any longer. It's not that he's lost his innocence, exactly; it's more like he's lost the idea that anyone is innocent. Pretty rough stuff. Also, check out the way this passage pushes together totally different language. We go from the specific and ugly "filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose" to "the darkness of man's heart," and from the uplifting, noble language of "true, wise friend" to … Piggy. What's that juxtaposition all about?

On the beach behind him was a cutter, her bows hauled up and held by two ratings. In the stern-sheets another rating held a sub-machine gun. (12.211)

Don't think you're getting off blame-free, dear reader. The boys may have lost their innocence on the island, but we've all lost our innocence in the real world.

Three small children, no older than Johnny, appeared from startlingly close at hand where they had been gorging fruit in the forest. A dark little boy, not much younger than Piggy, parted a tangle of undergrowth, walked on to the platform, and smiled cheerfully at everybody. More and more of them came. Taking their cue from the innocent Johnny, they sat down on the fallen palm trunks and waited. Ralph continued to blow short, penetrating blasts. (1)

At this point, everyone is innocent like little Johnny with his "cheerful" smile. Everyone's ready to pull together like good little British boys… which is going to last approximately two days.

"You can take spears if you want but I shan't. What's the good? I'll have to be led like a dog, anyhow. Yes, laugh. Go on, laugh. There's them on this island as would laugh at anything. And what happened? What's grown-ups goin' to think? Young Simon was murdered. (11)

With the word "murdered," Piggy lays it out: there's no going back. They've killed another human being, a boy like themselves. Oh, and that boy was basically the personification of innocence and a Christ-figure, so, yeah. They're in trouble. (Check out Simon's "Character Analysis" for more about Simon and Jesus.)

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