In this extract from the novel, Ralph, Jack and Roger, though frightened and armed only with three sticks, are approaching what Jack has described as “a thing”. Sam and Eric said this thing was the beast. The three boys are frightened and Golding makes the scene frightening for the reader. The setting is a frightening one. It is night-time, but not completely dark as there is “a patch of lighter sky where in a moment the moon would arise”. The boys’ situation is dangerous, high above the “glittering lengths of the lagoon” and the “long white smudge that was the reef”.
Golding has taken away all colour from the scene and made it seem to be taking place in black and white. When colour does appear, it is green “Green lights of nausea”, brought before Ralph’s eyes by his unexpected contact with “the cold soft ashes of the fire”, a sensation which makes him almost physically sick. When the ashes blow into his face from the dead fire (darkness and death seem linked in this frightening place) Ralph almost faints as “the top of the mountain was sliding sideways”.
Fainting on the top of this mountain with the lagoon and reef so far below would be very dangerous and makes the reader frightened for Ralph. Jack taunts Ralph by asking if he’s scared. Golding uses a much more powerful word than Jack’s schoolboyish one; Ralph’s fear has for a moment “paralysed” him, making him incapable of movement. The sounds Golding describes are the sounds of fear. Twice the wind is said to roar, like an animal, hungry to swallow them.
Roger’s breath is “a hiss” as if fear has turned him into something ess than human. Ralph hears the chattering of his own teeth, another sign of how frightening this moment is. Golding builds up tension in the extract to make it still more frightening. The boys see close to them “a rocklike hump where no rock should be”. After two “leaden” steps that show Ralph’s reluctance to approach this “hump”, the sudden sliver of moon reveals the frightening figure of “a great ape” now asleep but ready to wake up and terrify the boys.
Finally, as the wind again roars, the creature lifted head” and they see “the ruin of a face”, like some horror from a nightmare. This is the climax of the extract and the boys run in terror. The boys have no idea that they have seen a dead parachutist, whose parachute has been caught by the wind making the body appear to move and come alive. This extract confirms their worst fears; that they are on an island inhabited by a beast ready to prey on them. The extract is frightening to a reader, and shows why the boys report to the others that there really is a beast on the island.