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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.65, No.1, 3 ~ 19, 2019
From Whizzoh to Bollocks: The Exclamatory Language of Moral Collapse in Lord of the Flies
Kenneth Eckert
William Golding’s 1954 novel Lord of the Flies has been dissected for its symbolic objects and gestures―such as the conch, Piggy’s glasses, the fire, and Jack’s mask―as a means of reading the novel’s allegorical and religious depiction of human evil. The conch itself has productive associations with speech and parliaments, and Golding’s range of language registers in description and dialogue has also been discussed. Yet one minor but suggestive aspect as yet overlooked is the boys’ exclamatory interjections and profanities, which are not random but form a structurally intelligent thematic continuum. The exclamations categorically progress from playfully defiant onomatopoeic sounds and humorous body-oriented expressions, to angrier animal comparisons and humiliating references to sexual acts, finishing with complex abstractions such as religious blasphemies. These spontaneous utterances provide conversational realism but also meaningfully mirror and index the ongoing moral maturation and corruption of the characters in their rising offensiveness, lexical power and aggressiveness, and instrumental uses as tools of violence and dominance.
Key Words
Lord of the Flies, William Golding, apocalyptic literature, profanity, interjections
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