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www.the-criterion.com The Criterion: An International Journal in English ISSN 0976-8165
Vol.III Issue III 1 September 2012
The
C
riterion
William Golding’s Allegorical World Played through Binaries
Prakash Bhadury
William Golding explores the rational and the spiritual experience in a moment of crisis in
a fabulous setting through the protagonists who are posed as binary opposites. He was concerned
with larger, more fundamental and abstract issues that may be called metaphysical and
theological. The theme he found of his first novel is to trace harsh diagrams of human history.
An exploration of the man's mind from superficial consciousness to the most hidden recesses of
the unconscious depth is most succinctly carried out. The dialogue between the scientist and the
mystic is juxtaposed in a number of characters and the conflict seems to resolve itself in
Golding’s story which comes through shifting point of view, differing symbols and metaphors.
Given the somber purpose, symbols and metaphors have been powerful tools played upon the
characters and settings to present allegorical truth obliquely against plane statement which
reverberates within as lasting myth, and never to cease its guarding light. ‘Darkness’ has been his
recurrent symbol which as a type manifests itself at varying degree in different situations.
In each novel Golding creates a unique world with fabulous settings for a meaningful
action to be completed by its protagonists. They face a crisis moment in their new world where
life is put to litmus test for its meanings .Perhaps, the allegorical significations assert themselves
through differing symbols in a moment of crisis. The symbols are all traditional within natural
surroundings such as, the sea, the rock, the black lightening, lens, night, day, storm, lightning,
the fire the forest and so on, so that the readers could at once relate those from their obvious
meaning to their allegorical correspondence. Keene affirms, “Mr. Golding is interested in the
moment of awareness, the time of solitude, Privation, when real human nature asserts itself,
when the human condition becomes plain, and when the necessity of a truth becomes so painful
that it cannot be ignored”(6).
In Golding’s view, the human impulse toward essential goodness, or a bent of civilized
mind is not as deeply rooted as the human impulse toward evil and savagery. Unlike all the other
boys on the island, Simon acts morally not out of guilt or shame but because he believes in the
inherent value of morality. Sammy’s moment of fall is more mythic rather than a scientific or
historical fall. Simon, the epileptic boy, makes communion with the beast that is inside all human
being and his discovery accost his life. The sea symbolizes as the infinity where his body gets
washed away and a hallowed presence by the moonlight spreads across in a surrealistic manner.
Piggy’s lens, one is broken and the other representing Science or Reason brings fire. The broken
one is lost wisdom and the next one brings the myth of progress that engulfs the whole world
into atomic fire.
Ralph while cry for the end of innocence brings back the civilizing instincts.
The readers come to know of Martin’s death only at the last moment as the final sentence of the
novel reads, "He didn't even have time to kick off his sea boots"(PM 214).The sea as a symbol of
infinity celebrates Simon’s hallow while denies Martin’s Satanic struggle to survive on
solipsistic rock. The ‘Rockall’ has been “a near miss" and turned into nothingness. Martin’s case
is a classic predicament of the soul pitched against God. At the outset of the novel Martin seeks
his lost world, but he was so brazenly depraved that he puts his hands before his eyes and
searches for light. ‘Rockall’ on what he held on to as a decomposed body is the limit, a negation
www.the-criterion.com The Criterion: An International Journal in English ISSN 0976-8165
Vol.III Issue III 2 September 2012
The
C
riterion
of self-less dying. The flashback shows that the rock seems to him the most familiar as it sprang
from his mind’s limit. He avoids the word ‘dead’ as it heightens his fear against his solipsistic
ego, against surrendering to God which has stark contrast against his spiritual friend Nathanael’s
will to surrender to God.
Golding’s binary world has always put binary characters in sharp contrast only to resolve
the dialectic through the tortuous journey and experiences of living, rather than a plain statement
of synthesis. The last novel the Double Tongue (1994) reflects two binary characters namely
Ionides and Arieka, both dialectically opposite, yet, they can be explained in terms of modern
science of physics or chemistry as the former’s name begins with ion which may be positively or
negatively charged particle. Where as Arieka is free air which accommodates all the gaseous
substances and floating particles. Air is one of the most essential elements for life to germinate
and pull on. Arieka has fulfilled her scientifically assigned task to this world while
accommodating the mundane and the quintessential together. Ionides has ever been differently
charged as while editing the LF and scrapping the matters of Simon as a divine presence in the
book, he took to negative charge, though it was his limits.
The title Double Tongue is justified in terms of Ionides’ approach to the world. He knew
that Arieka would not concoct any truth, where as he is apt in it. He wants Arieka to speak out in
his agreement and if not, he is ready to pass them as his own even though people say, “Ionides is
a false priest and should be destroyed here and now” (84).He clarifies his position, “I speak with
the tongues of men. You should speak with the tongues of Holy Messengers” (84).Immediately
the omniscient narrator makes the double standard of Ionides clear, “But-’and here he smiled his
wonderful, sad smile-‘If we can not have the one let us at least have the other’ (84).
Nathaniel too speaks as a holy messenger, “Take us as we are now and heaven would be
sheer negation. Without form and void. You see? A sort of black lightning, destroying
everything that we call life-"(Pincher Martin: 234).Martin in his attempt to deny this black
lightening is drawn to conversing with God the way Sammy in the Free Fall questioned his
moment of fall, “You gave me the power to choose and all my life you led me carefully to this
suffering because my choice was my own"(253).Keene comments here, “Who else can it be but
God? What happens in purgatory is also a reflection of what happens on earth. The futility of
Martin's efforts to avoid his real condition is an image of the futility of purely humanist answers
to existence. For example: ‘But time had infinite resource and what had at first been a purpose
became grey and endless and without hope. He began to look for hope in his mind but the
warmth had gone or if he found anything it was an Intellectual and bloodless ghost’"(7).
Sammy in Free Fall could focuses on the crucial moment of his fall, at last, making the
gap between his being and the action of his becoming more explicit. He repeatedly asks himself:
when did he lose or alienate his freedom, when did he fall from his childhood state or grace? The
loss of freedom and the fall of man are one and the same event which Sammy Mount joy is
predestined by his ironical name. As he goes to bid farewell to school, Nick suggests him to
pursue his free will. His headmaster gives him the parting advice: “If you want something
enough, you can always get it provided you are willing to make the appropriate sacrifice.
Something, anything. But what you get is never quite what you thought; and sooner or later the
sacrifice is always regretted (Free Fall: 235).
The allegorical world of the Inheritors (1955) moves around the binary world of the
Homo sapiens (new men) and the primitive people in pre -historic period of time in which the
www.the-criterion.com The Criterion: An International Journal in English ISSN 0976-8165
Vol.III Issue III 3 September 2012
The
C
riterion
crafty people annihilate the pre-historic innocent tribe for a mark of their scientific progress.
Martin enacts the same drama of the new men as he too plans the murder of Nathaniel by
swerving the ship at mid sea and the result is his own annihilation as the torpedo strikes his ship.
The so called civilized Homo sapiens, now, are beset with world wars and a constant threat of
extinction amid a host of socio-economic and geo-political condition even in the 21st
century.
A close analyses of the characters show that all the protagonists cried for freedom. What
we want out of our knowledge is freedom. A universal cry of freedom is heard from every one,
from every breast, from every nooks and corners. Sammy, Matty, Simon- all cried for the same
freedom. But the whole problem lies with the ‘I’. The questions are answered at the end of the
chapter on Pincher Martin. So long as one cannot free oneself of the ‘I’, of the burden of the
finite consciousness, one continues to be guilty and ‘fall down’ (251). His nature continues to be
flawed and guilt ridden. But once he is purged of his ego, as Sammy in the prison cell, he can
regain the wholeness of his being and see harmony all around. Professor Subba Roa comments
here that: “However, such moment of revelation cannot… save from self condemnation and
provide an enduring inner harmony” (66). Sammy comes closer to Matty and Jocelin in his tragic
awareness of the ‘natural chaos of existence’. Matty stands for ‘good’ in Darkness Visible but the
novel shows Good and Evil as completely independent, the one incapable of existing without the
other. The central movement within the novel is towards reconciliation, and “the idea of unity is
pervasive throughout the novel” (Sinfield: 165).
Golding is primarily a religious novelist. His central theme is to find a relationship of
man to the universe and through the universe to God. Irrational faith, ignorance and material
progress have obscured our vision. The root cause of man’s fall is spiritual blindness which has
made man stranger to himself. His moral view that man is basically a fallen creature is hardly
inseparable from the doctrine of original Sin. This concept may be disputable but what can not
be denied is the depth and seriousness of this purpose and the sharp reality of our response to it.
Golding has made his task to break down all false illusion: “his creed is that of the Delphic
Oracle, Know yourself.” (McCarron: 78).It is self- knowledge made explicit through his
allegorical fictional world.
Works Cited:
Golding ,William, Lord of the Flies. 10th
ed. Rep. 1986. Madras: Madras Oxford University Press,
1955.Print.
---. The Inheritors. London: Faber and Faber, 1955.Print.
---. Pincher Martin. London: Faber and Faber, 1956. Print.
---.. Free Fall. London: Faber and Faber, 1960. Print.
---. The Spire. London: Faber and Faber, 1964. Print.
--- The Double Tongue. London: Faber and Faber, 1995. Print.
Keene, Dennis. “William Golding and Jehovah”. (1963).Repository.1-
16.Web.12May 2012.
<repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/.../2433/.../ebk00013_001b.pd.>
McCarron, Kevin. William Golding.London: North Cote House, 1994.print.
Sinfield, Alen. “Varieties of Religion”, Society and Literature: 1945 – 1970.
London : Muthuen and Co. Ltd., 1983.print.
www.the-criterion.com The Criterion: An International Journal in English ISSN 0976-8165
Vol.III Issue III 4 September 2012

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William Golding’s Allegorical World Played through Binaries

  • 1. www.the-criterion.com The Criterion: An International Journal in English ISSN 0976-8165 Vol.III Issue III 1 September 2012
  • 2. The C riterion William Golding’s Allegorical World Played through Binaries Prakash Bhadury William Golding explores the rational and the spiritual experience in a moment of crisis in a fabulous setting through the protagonists who are posed as binary opposites. He was concerned with larger, more fundamental and abstract issues that may be called metaphysical and theological. The theme he found of his first novel is to trace harsh diagrams of human history. An exploration of the man's mind from superficial consciousness to the most hidden recesses of the unconscious depth is most succinctly carried out. The dialogue between the scientist and the mystic is juxtaposed in a number of characters and the conflict seems to resolve itself in Golding’s story which comes through shifting point of view, differing symbols and metaphors. Given the somber purpose, symbols and metaphors have been powerful tools played upon the characters and settings to present allegorical truth obliquely against plane statement which reverberates within as lasting myth, and never to cease its guarding light. ‘Darkness’ has been his recurrent symbol which as a type manifests itself at varying degree in different situations. In each novel Golding creates a unique world with fabulous settings for a meaningful action to be completed by its protagonists. They face a crisis moment in their new world where life is put to litmus test for its meanings .Perhaps, the allegorical significations assert themselves through differing symbols in a moment of crisis. The symbols are all traditional within natural surroundings such as, the sea, the rock, the black lightening, lens, night, day, storm, lightning, the fire the forest and so on, so that the readers could at once relate those from their obvious meaning to their allegorical correspondence. Keene affirms, “Mr. Golding is interested in the moment of awareness, the time of solitude, Privation, when real human nature asserts itself, when the human condition becomes plain, and when the necessity of a truth becomes so painful that it cannot be ignored”(6). In Golding’s view, the human impulse toward essential goodness, or a bent of civilized mind is not as deeply rooted as the human impulse toward evil and savagery. Unlike all the other boys on the island, Simon acts morally not out of guilt or shame but because he believes in the inherent value of morality. Sammy’s moment of fall is more mythic rather than a scientific or historical fall. Simon, the epileptic boy, makes communion with the beast that is inside all human being and his discovery accost his life. The sea symbolizes as the infinity where his body gets washed away and a hallowed presence by the moonlight spreads across in a surrealistic manner. Piggy’s lens, one is broken and the other representing Science or Reason brings fire. The broken one is lost wisdom and the next one brings the myth of progress that engulfs the whole world into atomic fire. Ralph while cry for the end of innocence brings back the civilizing instincts. The readers come to know of Martin’s death only at the last moment as the final sentence of the novel reads, "He didn't even have time to kick off his sea boots"(PM 214).The sea as a symbol of infinity celebrates Simon’s hallow while denies Martin’s Satanic struggle to survive on solipsistic rock. The ‘Rockall’ has been “a near miss" and turned into nothingness. Martin’s case is a classic predicament of the soul pitched against God. At the outset of the novel Martin seeks his lost world, but he was so brazenly depraved that he puts his hands before his eyes and searches for light. ‘Rockall’ on what he held on to as a decomposed body is the limit, a negation www.the-criterion.com The Criterion: An International Journal in English ISSN 0976-8165 Vol.III Issue III 2 September 2012
  • 3. The C riterion of self-less dying. The flashback shows that the rock seems to him the most familiar as it sprang from his mind’s limit. He avoids the word ‘dead’ as it heightens his fear against his solipsistic ego, against surrendering to God which has stark contrast against his spiritual friend Nathanael’s will to surrender to God. Golding’s binary world has always put binary characters in sharp contrast only to resolve the dialectic through the tortuous journey and experiences of living, rather than a plain statement of synthesis. The last novel the Double Tongue (1994) reflects two binary characters namely Ionides and Arieka, both dialectically opposite, yet, they can be explained in terms of modern science of physics or chemistry as the former’s name begins with ion which may be positively or negatively charged particle. Where as Arieka is free air which accommodates all the gaseous substances and floating particles. Air is one of the most essential elements for life to germinate and pull on. Arieka has fulfilled her scientifically assigned task to this world while accommodating the mundane and the quintessential together. Ionides has ever been differently charged as while editing the LF and scrapping the matters of Simon as a divine presence in the book, he took to negative charge, though it was his limits. The title Double Tongue is justified in terms of Ionides’ approach to the world. He knew that Arieka would not concoct any truth, where as he is apt in it. He wants Arieka to speak out in his agreement and if not, he is ready to pass them as his own even though people say, “Ionides is a false priest and should be destroyed here and now” (84).He clarifies his position, “I speak with the tongues of men. You should speak with the tongues of Holy Messengers” (84).Immediately the omniscient narrator makes the double standard of Ionides clear, “But-’and here he smiled his wonderful, sad smile-‘If we can not have the one let us at least have the other’ (84). Nathaniel too speaks as a holy messenger, “Take us as we are now and heaven would be sheer negation. Without form and void. You see? A sort of black lightning, destroying everything that we call life-"(Pincher Martin: 234).Martin in his attempt to deny this black lightening is drawn to conversing with God the way Sammy in the Free Fall questioned his moment of fall, “You gave me the power to choose and all my life you led me carefully to this suffering because my choice was my own"(253).Keene comments here, “Who else can it be but God? What happens in purgatory is also a reflection of what happens on earth. The futility of Martin's efforts to avoid his real condition is an image of the futility of purely humanist answers to existence. For example: ‘But time had infinite resource and what had at first been a purpose became grey and endless and without hope. He began to look for hope in his mind but the warmth had gone or if he found anything it was an Intellectual and bloodless ghost’"(7). Sammy in Free Fall could focuses on the crucial moment of his fall, at last, making the gap between his being and the action of his becoming more explicit. He repeatedly asks himself: when did he lose or alienate his freedom, when did he fall from his childhood state or grace? The loss of freedom and the fall of man are one and the same event which Sammy Mount joy is predestined by his ironical name. As he goes to bid farewell to school, Nick suggests him to pursue his free will. His headmaster gives him the parting advice: “If you want something enough, you can always get it provided you are willing to make the appropriate sacrifice. Something, anything. But what you get is never quite what you thought; and sooner or later the sacrifice is always regretted (Free Fall: 235). The allegorical world of the Inheritors (1955) moves around the binary world of the Homo sapiens (new men) and the primitive people in pre -historic period of time in which the www.the-criterion.com The Criterion: An International Journal in English ISSN 0976-8165 Vol.III Issue III 3 September 2012
  • 4. The C riterion crafty people annihilate the pre-historic innocent tribe for a mark of their scientific progress. Martin enacts the same drama of the new men as he too plans the murder of Nathaniel by swerving the ship at mid sea and the result is his own annihilation as the torpedo strikes his ship. The so called civilized Homo sapiens, now, are beset with world wars and a constant threat of extinction amid a host of socio-economic and geo-political condition even in the 21st century. A close analyses of the characters show that all the protagonists cried for freedom. What we want out of our knowledge is freedom. A universal cry of freedom is heard from every one, from every breast, from every nooks and corners. Sammy, Matty, Simon- all cried for the same freedom. But the whole problem lies with the ‘I’. The questions are answered at the end of the chapter on Pincher Martin. So long as one cannot free oneself of the ‘I’, of the burden of the finite consciousness, one continues to be guilty and ‘fall down’ (251). His nature continues to be flawed and guilt ridden. But once he is purged of his ego, as Sammy in the prison cell, he can regain the wholeness of his being and see harmony all around. Professor Subba Roa comments here that: “However, such moment of revelation cannot… save from self condemnation and provide an enduring inner harmony” (66). Sammy comes closer to Matty and Jocelin in his tragic awareness of the ‘natural chaos of existence’. Matty stands for ‘good’ in Darkness Visible but the novel shows Good and Evil as completely independent, the one incapable of existing without the other. The central movement within the novel is towards reconciliation, and “the idea of unity is pervasive throughout the novel” (Sinfield: 165). Golding is primarily a religious novelist. His central theme is to find a relationship of man to the universe and through the universe to God. Irrational faith, ignorance and material progress have obscured our vision. The root cause of man’s fall is spiritual blindness which has made man stranger to himself. His moral view that man is basically a fallen creature is hardly inseparable from the doctrine of original Sin. This concept may be disputable but what can not be denied is the depth and seriousness of this purpose and the sharp reality of our response to it. Golding has made his task to break down all false illusion: “his creed is that of the Delphic Oracle, Know yourself.” (McCarron: 78).It is self- knowledge made explicit through his allegorical fictional world. Works Cited: Golding ,William, Lord of the Flies. 10th ed. Rep. 1986. Madras: Madras Oxford University Press, 1955.Print. ---. The Inheritors. London: Faber and Faber, 1955.Print. ---. Pincher Martin. London: Faber and Faber, 1956. Print. ---.. Free Fall. London: Faber and Faber, 1960. Print. ---. The Spire. London: Faber and Faber, 1964. Print. --- The Double Tongue. London: Faber and Faber, 1995. Print. Keene, Dennis. “William Golding and Jehovah”. (1963).Repository.1- 16.Web.12May 2012. <repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/.../2433/.../ebk00013_001b.pd.> McCarron, Kevin. William Golding.London: North Cote House, 1994.print. Sinfield, Alen. “Varieties of Religion”, Society and Literature: 1945 – 1970. London : Muthuen and Co. Ltd., 1983.print. www.the-criterion.com The Criterion: An International Journal in English ISSN 0976-8165 Vol.III Issue III 4 September 2012