(réf.  Etudes Britanniques Contemporaines n° 2. Montpellier: Presses universitaires de Montpellier, 1993)


Golding's Numinous Sea

NADIA D'AMELIO (Ecole d'Interprêtes Internationaux, Université de Mons.)

The second verse of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis runs as follows:

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. On the first day God said, "Let there be light," on the second He made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And on the third He gathered the waters under the heaven unto one place, and let the dry land appear; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas.(1)

In the same way, in one of the Greek cosmologies, the beginning of everything was when Eros issued from the egg of Night which floated upon Chaos.

The sea or the great waters are the symbol for the primordial undifferentiated flux, the substance which became created nature only by having form imposed upon or wedded to it. Golding's sea, like that of the Book of Genesis, is the very substance out of which the artist's creations emerge. Water may rightly be said to be the well that gives birth to Golding's narrative and poetic web of words. His works participate constantly in the hydric reality of nature while the writer listens to the call of earth and fire at isolated, privileged, even if recurring, moments. Originally as in Golding, the sea, in fact, is that state of barbaric vagueness and disorder out of which civilisation emerged and into which, unless saved


1. The Holy Bible or King James Version of 1611. Now reprinted with the Apocryphia. In 3 volumes. London: the Nonesuch Press, 1963, p. 15.


by the effort of gods and men, it is always liable to relapse. It is so little of a friendly symbol that the first thing which the author of the Book of Revelations notices in his vision of the new heaven and earth at the end of time is that "there was no more sea". The classical authors and Golding would have agreed with Marianne Moore:

It is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing; but you cannot stand in the middle of this. (2)

Golding's sea is no place to be if you can help it, and to try to cross it betrays a rashness bordering on hubris, at which a man's friends should be properly concerned.

The handling of the symbols of sea and storm by Shakespeare provides us with a bridge between what, for convenience, one may call the classic attitude and the romantic, and can be aptly used as a key reference to better unravel Golding's use of the symbols. In most of Shakespeare's plays, as Wilson Knight demonstrates, one finds on the one hand tempests, rough beasts, comets, diseases, malice, domestic and private vice, that is the world of conflict and disorder; on the other hand music, flowers, birds, precious stones and marriage, the world of reconciliation and order. In the earlier plays the stormy sea is more purely negative, a reflection of human conflict or the fatal mischance which provides evil with its opportunity, as in Othello. In the last plays, Pericles, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest, however, not only do the sea and the sea voyage play a much more important role, but also a different one. The sea becomes the place of purgatorial suffering: through separation and apparent loss, the characters disordered by passion are brought to their senses and the world of music and marriage is made possible. There is a close link with Golding and also an extremely important difference in the relation of the characters to the sea from that which the romantic period and our period exhibit, namely that the putting to sea, the wandering, is never voluntarily entered upon as a pleasure. It is a pain which must be accepted as a cure, the death that leads to rebirth in order that the abiding city may be built.

Golding's view of the sea, however, is distinctively twofold. Though he does share common ground with Shakespeare's classic conception of the stormy sea, he owes much to the romantic attitude the basic notes of which sound as follows. To leave the land and the city is the desire of every man of sensibility and honour. Moreover the sea is the situation and the voyage is the true condition of man. Correlatively, the sea is where the decisive events, the


2. MOORE, Marianne. The Complete Poems. London: Faber and Faber, 1967.


moments of eternal choice, of temptation, fall and redemption occur. The shore life is always trivial. Lastly, an abiding destination is unknown even if it may exist: a lasting relationship is not possible nor even to be desired. The sea is, essentially, a wilderness, like the desert, where there is no community, just or unjust, and no historical change for better or for worse. Therefore the individual character in either sea or desert is free from both the evils and the responsibilities of communal life, which proves to be the uttermost difficulty to be coped with in Golding's trilogy. Thus Byron writes of the ocean:

Man marks the earth with ruin his control
Stops with the shore. (3)

Of course, Golding's sea does not belong to despots. Yet upon its surface men can still exercise unjust laws, fight, tear one another to pieces, and be carried away with terrestrial horrors. But in the bosom of the waters, there is only independence. There man recognises no master's voice but God's voice only. There he is free to fall or to ascend. The sea, in fact, is characterised by the absence of limitations, the stopping of life. Mercator's North Poles and Equators, Tropics, Zones and Meridian Lines are merely conventional signs. But precisely because it is a free place, it is also a lonely place of alienation, and the individual who finds himself there, whether by choice or fate, must from time to time, rightly or wrongly, be visited by desperate longings for human company and social integration.

In Golding's novels the sea clearly is the Alpha of existence, the symbol of potentiality. Its first most obvious characteristic is its perpetual motion, the violence of wave as tempest. Its power may be destructive, but, unlike that of the desert, it is positive. Its second is the teeming life that lies hidden below the surface which, however dreadful, is greater than the visible. The sea, then, is the symbol of primitive potential power. The image of the happy island is closely knit with that of the sea. It is like the city in that it is an enclosed place of safety, an oasis, and like the sea-desert in that it is a solitary or private place from which the general public are excluded and where the writ of the law does not run. The primary idea with which the island image is associated is, therefore, innocence; it is the earthly paradise where there is no conflict between natural desire and moral duty. The image can assume two traditional meanings. Either it is the real earthly paradise, in which case it is a place of temporary refreshment for the exhausted hero, a foretaste of rewards to come or the final


3. BYRON, Lord. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, in The Works, complete in 5 volumes, 2nd ed. Leipzig: Tauchnitz,1866. Vol. 2.


goal and reward itself, or it is a magical garden, an illusion caused by black magic to tempt the hero to abandon his quest, and which, when the spell is broken, is seen to be really the desert of barren rock, or a place of horror like Calypso's island, Klingsor's garden, or the isle of Venus. Golding's view offers still another possibility. The Eldorado of Lord of the Flies turns out to be a reef in Pincher Martin, like Baudelaire's island of Cythera:

un terrain des plus maigres,
un désert rocailleux troublé par des cris aigres. (4)

The tempestuous liquid sea is dangerous enough but when it approaches the condition of the solid desert it is worse. The Ancient Mariner's punishment begins when the sea becomes a counterfeit desert:

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea. (5)

The images of the Just City, of the civilised landscape protected by the Madonna, which look at us from so many Italian paintings, and of the island of the blessed, are lacking in Golding's geography because, like the romantic writers, he does not believe in their


4. BAUDELAIRE, Charles. "Un voyage à Cythère." Les fleurs du mal. Paris: Garnier-Flammarion, 1991, p. 165.
5. COLERIDGE, S.T. "The Rime of theh Ancient Mariner" in The Portable Coleridge, ed. by I. A. Richards. Hammondsworth: Penguin Books, 1978, p. 80.


existence. What exists to him is the Trivial Unhappy Unjust City, the desert of the average from which the only escape is to the wild, lonely, but still vital sea.

The image of the shell as a symbolic object in Lord of the Flies is also related to the sea. To the desert knight of Wordsworth's dream hurrying to hide two treasures, a stone and a shell, the shell is, explicitly, Poetic Truth, the truth built by

passion which itself
Is highest reason in a soul sublime (6)

for it is "a god, yea many gods", has "voices more than all the winds" and is "a joy, a consolation and a hope". Golding's shell is related to powers preferable to aridity, yet more dangerous; the shell is consolation but what it says is a prophecy of destruction by the weltering flood. And, to refer to "The Ancient Mariner", only a sublime soul can ride the storm. Nevertheless, at the outset, the shell is a means through which the True City can be built. The boys become brothers through the recognition of a common truth in their several minds, and through the experience of a common hope and joy in their several hearts. But at the same time it can be dangerous to the city, be it because it can be ignored. The truth of feeling may overwhelm individual identity or, if discarded or perverted, social order in an anarchic deluge. The siren voice of the poetic shell can call men to the sea, the "double kingdom", to put off their human nature and be trolls. The prospect is as alluring to every man as it was to Faust:

Hier fass ich Fuss!Hier sind es Wirklichkeiten,
Von hier aus darf der Geist mit Geistern streiten.
Das Doppelreich, das grosse, sich bereiten.
So fern sie war, wie kann sie naeher sein!
Ich rette sie und sie ist doppelt mein... (7)

The ship acts as a symbol in the trilogy rich in meaning and possibilities. If thought of as isolated in the midst of the ocean, the ship can stand for mankind and human society moving through time and struggling with its destiny. If thought of as leaving the land for the ocean, it stands for a particular kind of man and society as contrasted with the average, land-


6. WORDSWORTH, W. "The Stone and the shell" in A Selection of Poems. London: Crow Classics, 1947.
7. GOETHE, J. W. Faust. Munchen: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1992, p. 230.


dwelling kind. A constant aesthetic problem for Golding is how to reconcile his desire to include everything, not to leave out anything important, with his desire for an aesthetic whole, that there shall be no irrelevances or loose ends. The picture has to be both complete and framed. The ship is one of the few possible devices, in this respect, because it is most emphatically a frame; no one can get off or on board once the ship is started yet it permits of a great deal of variety and interpretation. Indeed the people on board can show every variety of character as individuals and every age of man. Besides, there are a number of social grades: Captain, Mates, Midshipmen, Seamen, so that the role of authority in human society and of its dialectical relation to character can be portrayed. Golding's ship has a function to perform, to convey goods, to fight battles, and each member of the crew has a specialised function, which allows the exhibition of all the relations between the functions, given or chosen, and the character who willingly or unwillingly performs it; there can, of course, be passengers without a function. Above all, life on the ship the floating island exhibits the distinction and relation between society, i.e. human beings associated for an end, and community, i.e. human beings associated by the tie of a common concern or interest. Thus there are a number of antagonistic units within the common society, e.g. the officers versus the seamen, the ruler whose orders cannot be questioned and the ruled who feel like Melville:

I saw a Roman Jew of the Middle Ages confined to the Jewish quarter of the town and forbidden to stray beyond its limits. (8)

As a society which, once you are in you cannot get out of, whether you like it or not, whether you approve it or not, a ship can represent two states: the state of human being as decreed by God Mutiny then is a symbol of the original rebellion of Lucifer and of Adam, the refusal to accept finitude and dependence; or the Civitas terrena, created by self-love, inherited and repeated, yet where no man has totally lost his knowledge of and longing for the Civitas Dei and the Law of Love. From this arise absurd contradictions, like the priest disgracing his cloth and committing fellatio. Yet to be like Christ, to obey the Law of Love absolutely, is possible only for the saint, and even for him the consequence would be the same as for Christ: crucifixion. We are here sent back to Simon, the saint-figure in Lord of the Flies. But the rest of us cannot avoid disingenuous compliances.


8. MELVILLE, H. White Jacket or The Worls in a Man-of-War. Boston: The Saint Botolph Society, 1923, p. 71.


In the trilogy, the tyrannical, shadowy, secret waters drive Colley through their irresistible rush of creative and destructive powers which he didn't expect and which frighten him because he does not know where they are carrying him except that it is probably into a state of dread. The powers, however, are not necessarily evil. They only, as it turns out, drive him into temptation, for they give shape to the state of dread which Kierkegaard describes as the necessary precondition for the Fall:

Dread is a desire for what one fears, a sympathetic anticipation; dread is an alien power which takes hold of the individual, and yet one cannot extricate oneself from it, does not wish to, because one is afraid, but what one fears attracts one. Dread renders the individual powerless, and the first sin always happens in a moment of weakness; it therefore lacks any accountableness, but that want is the real snare. (9)

Golding's sea is primarily experienced as hypnotic, drawing the eye to note with unwavering, increasing intensity whatever is placed before it. Ian Gregor and Mark Kinkead-Weekes aptly contrast Defoe's achievement in Robinson Crusoe with Golding's in Pincher Martin, enhancing thus diverging kinds of realism. While Defoe's scene is dominated by the personal pronoun and passive voice, in Golding it is the beheld object that is subject of our attention. Whereas Defoe's stance makes way for the sweeping, quick narration of man's organisation of the world, Golding cuts down distance to maximise the strength and presence of crushing detail, actually "to build up narrative in the detail itself (10). The novel, as if born out of the waves, turns out to be a hypnotic growth of consciousness, starting off with an obsessive, physical awareness of the ambivalent powers of the sea. Let us compare two excerpts:

The Sea having hurried me along as before, landed me, or rather dash'd me against a Piece of Rock, and that with such Force, as it left me senseless, and indeed helpless, as to my own Deliverance; [...] seeing I should be cover'd again with the Water, I resolv'd to hold fast by a Piece of Rock. (11)


9. KIERKEGARD, S. The Concept of Dread in Selection from the writings of Kierkegard. Translated by Lee Hollander. New York: Doubleday, 1960, p. 50.
10. GREGOR, I. & KINKEAD-WEEKES, M. William Golding. A critical Study. London-Boston: Faber & Faber, 1984, p. 124.
11. DEFOE, D. Robinson Crusoe. Hammondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd., 1978, p. 65.


as contrasted with Golding's:

Water welled up among the pebbles.It stirred them slightly, paused, then sank away while the pebbles clicked and chirruped. It swilled down past his body and pulled gently at his stockinged feet. He watched the pebbles while the water came back and this time the last touch of the sea lopped into his open mouth. [...] Under the side of his face the pebbles nagged. (12)

The same hypnotic quality induces despair in Ralph's understanding mind as he turns to the ocean, dreaming of impossible rescue:

Here [...] the view was utterly different. The filmy enchantment of mirage could not endure the cold ocean water and the horizon was hard clipped blue. Ralph wandered down to the rocks. Down here, almost on a level with the sea, you could follow with your eye the ceaseless bulging passage of the deep sea waves. They were miles wide, apparently not breakers on the banked ridges of shallow water. They travelled the length of the island with an air of disregarding it and being set on other business; they were less a progress than a momentous rise and fall of the whole ocean. [...] Wave after wave, Ralph followed the rise and fall until something of the remoteness of the sea numbed his brain. Then gradually the almost infinite size of this water forced itself on his attention. This was the divider, the barrier. On the other side of the island, swathed at midday with mirage, defended by the shield of the quiet lagoon, one might dream of rescue; but here, faced by the brute obtuseness of the ocean, the miles of division, one was clamped down, one was helpless, one was condemned. (13)

Colley in Rites of Passage perceives the forbidding vastness of the sea together with its mysterious, magical possibilities. His romantic view comes to the fore all the better as it is sharply contrasted with the crew and Talbot's utilitarian experience of the sea and voyage. Colley almost echoes "The Ancient Mariner" when recording:


12. GOLDING, W. Pincher Martin. London: Faber & Faber, 1956, p. 25.
13. GOLDING, W. Lord of the Flies. London: Faber & Faber, 1984, p. 121-122.


We are motionless. The sea is polished. There is no sky but only a hot whiteness that descends like a curtain on every side, dropping, as it were, even below the horizon and so diminishing the circle of the ocean that is visible to us. The circle itself is of a light and luminescent blue. Now and then some sea creature will shatter the surface and silence by leaping through it. Yet even when nothing leaps there is a constant shuddering, random twitches and vibrations of the surface, as if the water were not only the home and haunt of all sea creatures but the skin of a living thing, a creature vaster than Leviathan. (14)

Rejoicing first in the oceanic paradise and its sunlight, a natural benediction, Colley soon reacts to the intimidating majesty, dangerous alienness of the waters and the strangeness of the ship's presence there:

It is night now. I cannot tell you how high against the stars her great masts seem, how huge yet airy her sails, nor how far down from her deck the night-glittering surface of the waters. I remained motionless by the rail for I know not how long. While I was yet there, the last disturbance left by the breeze passed away so that the glitter, that image of the starry heavens, gave place to a flatness and blackness, a nothing! All was mystery. (14b)

Bachelard's recognition of the essential ambivalence of substantial and dreamed water corroborates our thesis about Golding's twofold and paradoxical experience of the power of the sea, threatening and redemptive at once:

une matière que l'imagination ne peut faire vivre doublement ne peut jouer le rôle psychologique de matière originelle. Une matière qui n'est pas l'occasion d'une ambivalence psychologique ne peut trouver son double poétique qui permet des transpositions sans fin. (15)

Golding seems to consider the waters of the deep sea as a purely masculine element, primarily violent in its latent vengeful anger. The feminine quality attributed to water by poetic imagination, its deeply ingrained maternity seem alien to Golding's sensitivity. In his


14. GOLDING, W. Rites of Passage. London: Faber & Faber, 1982, p. 192.
15. BACHELARD, G. L'eau et les rêves. Paris: José Corti, 1989, p. 17.


work, the sea "unsexes" to take revenge on man, and by becoming harsh, it becomes masculine. As Bachelard puts it:

Voilà, sur un mode nouveau, la conquête d'une dualité inscrite dans l'élément, nouveau signe de la valeur originelle d'un élément de l'imagination matérielle ! (16)

Golding's sea waters primarily launch the characters into a new oniric experience, provided they are sensitive to the dynamics of dream. Talbot, the typical rationalist, cannot at first accept the vision of reflected light and waves as an oniric invitation. Typically it is Colley who feels it necessary for himself to examine the progress of the ship through water "so that (he) might exorcise those curious feelings of the strangeness of the world (17)." But what Colley finds in the deep waters is an invitation to Death. Water is, indeed, an invitation to die, to die a special death that allows us to join one of the elementary material refuges. Sea water seduces the beholder in a continuous way into a permanent suicide. Without consciously wishing to, and through the power of his genial dream, Golding finds again the heraclitean intuition that saw death as hydric becoming. Heraclitus imagined that, in sleeping already, the soul detached itself from the sources of living and universal fire and tended momentarily to transform itself into humidity. Thus to Heraclitus, death is water itself. Besides, when considering Simon's death in the ocean, one must notice that all decisive moments of the poetic narrative synthesise Beauty, Death and Water. This synthesis of Form, Fact and Substance may appear impossible to achieve to the philosopher. And yet it permeates the fictional event. Water must be admired, feared, and retained. In this passage, Golding has united in a unique symbolic force the three causes commanding form, becoming and matter so that they have become inseparable. That is also why water is the matter of beautiful, truthful death. Water can die and retain beauty at once. Again Golding's sensitivity is akin to that of the greatest romantic poets like E.A. Poe in his creation of Simon's death in the ocean:

The water rose further and dressed Simon's coarse hair with brightness. The line of his cheek silvered and the turn of his shoulder became sculptured marble. [...] Softly, surrounded by a fringe of inquisitive bright creatures, itself a silver shape beneath the steadfast constellation, Simon's body moved towards the open sea. (18)


16. L'eau et les rêves, p. 121.
17. GOLDING, W. Rites of Passage. London: Faber & Faber, 1982, p. 196.
18. GOLDING, W. Lord of the Flies. London: Faber & Faber, 1984, p. 169-170.


There is a sign of death giving Golding's imaginary waters a strange, unforgettable character: it is their silence. Except in violent storms, cataclysmic weather, water tends to be or become silent.

Turning to Colley's case, the sea voyage identifies with death and death with a voyage. Colley's coffin turns out to be the last boat. It could also be seen as the first boat, as death could be seen as the first voyage. There is a mythological hypothesis suggesting that coffins were thrown into or confided to the sea or to torrents before man ever went to sea. Thus the urgent question that Bachelard raises: was death the first navigator? This links up directly with the image of Caron's boat. The image immediately recalls that of Sophy and Toni's boat on the stagnant waters of the pond at the back of their garden, the boat on which Sophy dreams herself sadistically killing the kidnapped young prince. Here Caron's complex is not reduced to a mere weakened symbol surviving classic literature. On the contrary, the theme is given consistency and vigour because it has the most powerful of unities: oniric unity. Moreover, it may be argued that every ship in Golding's fiction has Caron's complex in it, that it is related to the Boat of the Dead. Therefore far off ships can be apprehended as ghosts and missed, wrecked ships can "come back", drowned sailors almost "passeurs" can resuscitate, as it is the case in the trilogy. Golding's ship, like Caron's boat, is always about to sink overloaded with souls. The heaviness and slowness of death also recalls the figure of Caron. Golding has created the very strange image of Death fearing dying, of drowned souls fearing shipwreck. But his metaphor is not always complete or allows hope whereas Caron's boat fares to the Netherworld. Golding's waters of suffering and death sometimes reach reassuring coasts. The threat of dissolution abates. The substantial nihil of the ocean can assume shape and traits.

It is interesting to point out the relevance of combined water and night. Like the bottomless oceanic waters, night can be taken to be an immense being imposing itself on nature as a whole, partaking in none of the substantial matters to better veil them. Besides, night itself can be seized imaginatively as a material substance. This is the most frequent case in Golding where night penetrates water. The penetration is so deep and intimate that the pool of water keeps the nocturnal matter even in daylight. Thus Sammy in Free Fall can gain access to the power of the substantial darkness shed to the waters of his baptism as a young man. This is the only instance where water assumes a tangible sensuality in Golding's work. In Darkness Visible, the same dark powers are held in the pool of stagnant water of Matty's peculiar baptism. The dark pond is replete with monstrous insects adding up to the dangers of slimy matter. Matty's pond gives a centre to them where they can better converge. Let us


stress the complexity of the water's impurity which must not be rashly rationalised away as a negative character. No judgement should be projected on the soiled quality of the baptismal water. The unconscious, impure waters are accepted as the object of an active, internal symbolisation of substantial evil. Thus soiled waters can also purify the character plunging into them in search of rebirth. Water per se energises the characters and can, indeed, when it becomes violent, multiply its stimuli. The sea in Golding's work is primarily man's enemy. Pincher Martin offers an extreme case of violent war between water and man. Willpower cannot be better measured up than against the ineluctable power of the waves. Therefore the locus of Pincher's promethean struggle against God is very aptly chosen and speaks for itself. One cannot but be reminded, in a striking way, of Faust's claims when Pincher relentlessly tries to tame the waters of the universe.

At the opposite pole, in Rites of Passage, the sea enhances Colley's sense of fragility, of powerless suspension between life and death. The spectacle of the heavens above the waters at night also appeals to his poetic understanding of God, a different god, though, from the avenging one facing Pincher Martin on his rock of willpower. Golding again reveals his visual acuteness in the following description, leaving the reader, perhaps, to wonder about the musicality of the waters as well:

Our huge ship was motionless and her sails still hung down. On her right hand the red sun was setting and on her left the full moon was rising; the one directly across from the other. The two vast luminaries seemed to stare at each other and each to modify the other's light. On land this spectacle could never be so evident because of the interposition of hills or trees or houses, but here we see down from our motionless vessel on all sides to the very edge of the world. Here plainly to be seen were the very scales of God. (19)

Ironically, it is precisely under this silent light that Colley will be judged, as he conceives of it.

Strikingly, Golding's ocean shelters Leviathan in his first novel, Lord of the Flies, as in the last work, the sea trilogy. In them, Leviathan, Behemoth, a sea monster, asks for what is due to him. The elusive monster, however, has been created by God. It is in both novels a symbol of darkness, of the power of iniquity and unrestraint, thereby taking up the tradition leading from Isaiah to Milton, Saint Brendan and Beowulf, as F. Regard notes it. In Lord of the Flies, the


19. GOLDING, W. Rites of Passage. London: Faber & Faber, 1982, p. 233.


narrator alludes repeatedly to "that crooked serpent", "the dragon that is in that sea", "the long, grinding roar of the breakers on the reef". The ocean where Leviathan lies in darkness for ever assumes the function of a liquid, limitless mass, of the elusive, primal, undifferentiated matter threatening the symbolic fortress built up by the boys, enhancing its fragility. Whereas in the sea trilogy Leviathan's breath is to be felt on the deep waters restrictively, the monster in Lord of the Flies surges up everywhere in the shape of the "Beast", taking on the aspect of "something big and horrid moving in the trees", or of "a creature that bulged", a serpent or a dragon, ghosts or "a dark thing, a beast, some sort of animal." (20) The ocean nearly floods the island and hardly allows for the latter's coherence to break its flow.

In The Spire, the cathedral is pictured as a ship crewed by the masterbuilder, his workers, Goodie and the several priests gravitating around Dean Jocelin. The ambivalent power of the sea of hubris and catharsis has been petrified but the image of the Ship of Fools has been aptly retained. The building of the spire, the inhuman difficulties it entails, serve as one great synecdoche, much like the taming and killing of the white whale in Melville's Moby Dick. When, however, the pattern in the carpet is that of a fable, or better of a myth, Golding must turn again to the sea itself, to its overwhelming reality as well as to its archetypal richness, actually to its powerfully numinous quality.

To Golding, indeed, the sea is, finally, neither good nor evil but simply numinous, a declaration of the power and majesty of God which transcends any human standards of ethics. The island or the floating society of the ship places mankind or a particular kind of man and society in a microcosm. One of the reasons for the fascination Golding's novels exert on the reader is the constant interplay between both, allowing, in the end, the Numinous to occur.

 (réf.  Etudes Britanniques Contemporaines n° 2. Montpellier: Presses universitaires de Montpellier, 1993)