Study Guide

Lord of the Flies Tough-o-Meter

By William Golding


(5) Tree Line

Lord of the Flies is a standard on the middle school required reading list, but that doesn't mean it's kid stuff. Check out this passage:

A thin wail out of the darkness chilled them and set them grabbing for each other. Then the wail rose, remote and unearthly, and turned to an inarticulate gibbering. Percival Wemys Madison, of the Vicarage, Harcourt St. Anthony, lying in the long grass, was living through circumstances in which the incantation of his address was powerless to help him. (5)

There's some tricky vocab here—like "gibbering" and "incantation." And there's also the way that the passage moves from a specific description (the wail of an animal) to the much more abstract point that Golding is making: out in the wild, things like addresses, names, and families just don't matter. Whatever animal that is gibbering out over your head doesn't care if you're Percival Wemys Madison or John Doe or Prince William.

Still, don't despair. You may have to pay attention, but it's not impossible. And if you read carefully, you just might find yourself learning something about your own human nature.

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