I believe that the first chapter of the novel is effective because we are informed about the main characters and we get an idea of their situation. From the characters’ brief descriptions, we can almost instantly tell what sort of roll they are going to take on in the rest of the book. Like in many books, the first chapter is the most beneficial and contributes the most information on things such as the themes, characters and narrative of the story.
The first chapter also gives you vital information on the characters which will evolve as the story progresses, in a way that will make the reader want to read on.
The first character introduced is Ralph, and so we immediately think of him as being the main character who will take charge in the ‘new world’. He is described as having worn school uniform when the plain crashed and is first seen dragging his school sweater behind him from one hand, this is almost symbolic that Ralph has abandoned the order of his probably strict upbringing and that he is rebelling against typical British society at that time.
Piggy is the second character to be introduced, and is described as ‘…shorter than the fair boy and very fat.’
This shows that Piggy is already an outcast as we learn that he is the only one who is looked down upon due to his size and that he wears glasses. Piggy and Ralph contrast because Ralph is perfectly content that there are no adult figures around to tell them what to do and Piggy is almost frightened at the idea that there is no adult supervision. Piggy makes many references to his ‘Auntie’ who acts as his guardian and has supplied him with all of his morals and has sheltered him from an early age it seems. Piggy’s auntie has in a way instilled him with the logic and reasoning of adult England. Piggy is quite an unpopular character, whose differences aren’t gone unnoticed, resulting in Piggy being called names and excluded from discussions.
Jack and the choir boys are the next set of characters to be introduced. They seem to be from a much wealthier background as they are dressed in ‘strangely eccentric clothing’ including ‘a square black cap’ and ‘black cloaks that bore a long silver cross on the left breast and each neck was finished off with a hambone frill.’ Along with Ralph, Jack the head chorister, is seen as one of the boy with more authority and is quick to abandon the idea of order using the conch. However different they may seem appearance wise, Jack and Ralph share the same trait of being natural born leaders, and that the younger and more impressionable are eager to follow Ralph and Jack’s orders, even though they may be reckless and thoughtless. Jack is portrayed as a very egotistical, and arrogant boy, however he shows a reasonable side to his arrogant attitude when he succumbs to the fact that the rest of the boys feel that Ralph should be chief.
The themes present in the opening chapter include, breaking through the constraints of human society; the survival of the fittest which ties in with the issue of popularity and that Piggy is not paid attention as he is different; isolation, that the boys are on an uninhabited tropical island with no adult supervision or guidance. Violence and that everyone has an inner ‘beast’; and the order of society tying in with the conch and how its purpose is recklessly abandoned. The themes used in novel are designed to emphasize the struggle between the ordering elements of society, which include morality, law, and culture, and the chaotic elements of humanity’s savage animal instincts, which include anarchy, bloodlust, and the desire for power, amorality, selfishness, and violence.
The boys often talk of ‘The beast’ and there is heavy speculation as to what ‘The beast’ is exactly, some thinking that it is the island itself and others thinking that it is some sort of creature that dwells within the darkest depths of the island’s forest. I however believe that ‘The beast’ is in fact the boys themselves, and that ‘The beast’s’ life force is their inner savage, animal instincts which end up taking over them, making them do terrible things.
The theory of ‘The beast’ links with another theme, which is that throughout the book it is the boys pitted against nature, and that they are fighting an un-winnable battle. In the story, the three main characters, Ralph, Jack and Piggy, all seem to have personal items which represent them and their character; for Ralph it is the conch shell representing his skills of being a natural born leader, and how he uses it to regain order. Piggy’s glasses represent his individuality and why he is an outcast, and Jack’s pocket knife is symbolic of his violent attitude.
The imagery used in chapter one, includes that of the ‘Scar’ which lies straight through the middle of the forest. The scar is in fact the trail remaining from the plane crash, which has carved a rift right through the jungle. This is symbolic that plane’s wreckage has inflicted an injury onto the island which will remain there. I feel that the scar represents the island’s inner evil, and that it is not actually the paradise which the boys believe it to be. The boys are all wearing school uniform or smart clothes when they arrive on the island, and when they make their way to the beach, they all appeared to have done something with their clothes, ‘some were naked and carrying their clothes; others half-naked, or more-or-less dressed in school uniforms.’
This shows that they are abandoning the severity of cleanliness and appearance and doing as they feel with how they present themselves. The imagery used when describing the jungle, is so effective that it makes it sound almost alive. There is a lot of emphasis used on the creepers and how they are like arms, trying to drag the dead plants and trees down to the ground. The creepers are almost portrayed as an enemy, trying to prevent the three explorers, Jack, Ralph and Simon, from reaching their destination ‘Here, the roots and stems of creepers were in such tangles that the boys had to thread through them like pliant needles.’
The narrative of Lord of The Flies I believe is that evil is inherent in the mind of everyone, and that it can take control at any time. It is almost as though the evil inside of us, or ‘The beast’, is the representative of the evil inside us all, and that the island is a microcosm of the world. The themes of the story I believe are very relevant to those which are going on in the modern day; children rebel against their parents and authority figures (the constraints of society), popularity plays a big part in school and more people are being bullied and feeling isolated, and the class system is still very much the same, almost as if everyone were divided into categories in a hierarchy.