What do you consider to be the key message of 'The Spire', and how does Golding present this?

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What do you consider to be the key message of 'The Spire', and how does Golding present this?

Since Golding is writing about the human condition, there are a great many ‘messages’ that could be considered. However, a recurring theme that follows Jocelin is that of cost and sacrifice – most particularly, is it worh sacrificing lives in order to achieve something like the spire? The element of cost is one Jocelin keeps returning to, and it plays a large part in his realisations at the end. As a man of faith, sacrifice is clearly a large part of his life. If Jocelin was not the dean, or not a priest at all, he would be unlikely to have such undying faith and willingness to sacrifice for it. Jocelin is the sort of man who can easily become obsessed, and so sometimes the moral implications of what he does do not seem important. What I think Golding is attempting to show is that all elements of an action must be carefully considered before it is carried out. All possible consequences should be thought through and fully accepted.

From the very beginning, Golding mentions sacrifice, sometimes in more subtle ways than others. On the first page, a reference is made to ‘Abraham and Isaac’. At surface level, this story seems irrelevant – Jocelin is exultant, convinced he is finally able to do the will of God, and thr story of Abraham could be seen as a tragic one. Abraham is told by God that he must sacrifice his son, and because of his blind faith, he agrees. However, at the last moment an angel stopes him. Perhaps Jocelin looks up to Abraham, admires him for his strength of faith. Perhaps it demonstrates from the very beginning how far he is willing to go to build his spire ‘for God’. Or perhaps Golding is hinting at something more critical of religion. Is it possible that God was testing Abraham to see if he would refuse? Why would a loving God order such a barbaric and pointless death? It could be that Golding is showing here how religion can be misleading and convince people to do absurd and terrible things, just to prove something. This also links to the ‘faith vs reason’ conflict that occurs througout the novel. Jocelin’s faith drives him to neglect reason, to the cost of others.

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The earliest instance of sacrifice is in the way the Church services are halted. Jovelin tells himself very early on ‘I must go on as I have always done’. Soon, however, it becomes apparent that this is exactly what he isn’t doing. The services are moved to the Lady Chapel and Anselm complains that no candles have been lit. This could be symbolic of the loss of light in Jocelin’s mind – he is being led solely by faith, not by clear reason. However, Golding could also be showing the loss of faith itselve – the candles could be ...

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