In literature and film, juxtaposition is the arrangement of two opposing ideas, characters, objects, etc. side-by-side or in similar narratives for effect. Lost often uses juxtaposition to further develop the storyline or characters - it is applied variously to opposing emotions, abstract concepts, character traits/values, or images.


Season 1[]

  • Civilization/Wilderness - The opening shot of the very first episode, "Pilot, Part 1", shows Jack's eye, and then slowly pulls away, showing him lying in the middle of the jungle. The juxtaposition of Jack's civilized suit and the wilderness around it (ditto for the white running shoe) sets the tone and inherent conflict for the entire series. ("Pilot, Part 1")
  • Committed/Flighty - At the end of Kate and Jack's very first conversation (after the Count to five story), she comments that she would have "run for the door", as opposed to Jack, who didn't. This difference between the two characters becomes a major thematic device over the first season (and beyond). ("Pilot, Part 1")
  • Chaos/Calm - The end of Jack's flashback to the plane is chaotic and destructive, with people being hurled around the plane, and everyone terrified. The next shot is of a calm ocean, with a thoughtful and introspective Jack looking out over it. ("Pilot, Part 1")
  • Darkness/Frivolity - As Kate is pulling hiking boots off of a corpse, she turns to see Locke, who gives her the "orange peel smile". Kate's mood, like the other survivors, serves to highlight Locke's status as one apart from the survivors, or "special" in some way. ("Pilot, Part 1")
  • Turmoil/Serenity - As people run around trying to find shelter during the storm, Locke sits on the beach, and raises his arms in a sort of benediction, or praise. ("Pilot, Part 1")
  • Indifference/Feeling - Shannon ignores Boone's requests for help, preferring to sunbathe on the beach. Beside her is Claire, whose emotional attachment to her baby, and the fact that she "hasn't felt it move since yesterday", underlines the differences between the two. ("Pilot, Part 2")
  • East/West - Sawyer and Sayid fight, for the first of many times, mostly because of suspicion aroused due to racial stereotypes. ("Pilot, Part 2")
  • Freedom/Repression - Kate washes herself in the ocean, wearing next to nothing, and is interrupted by a fully-clothed Sun, who indicates that she is wanted up on the beach. Jin's domineering attitude towards his wife, combined with this juxtaposition, helps us to understand her sense of repression. ("Pilot, Part 2")
  • "Way of Life"/Clean Slate - Kate is offered the opportunity to "start over" by both Ray Mullen and Jack. While she runs away from Ray (to continue living the way she has been), she takes Jack up on the offer (and accepts a new life). ("Tabula Rasa")
  • Weakness/Strength - On the Island throughout this episode, Locke is shown as being confident and able, by tracking and hunting a boar. In his past, though, he is stuck in a state of helplessness, as he is bullied by his boss, in a false relationship, and blocked from going on the walkabout; this "impotence" is ultimately symbolised by his being in a wheelchair. ("Walkabout")
  • Rationality/Faith - Although this juxtaposition becomes a major theme later in the Jack/Locke rivalry, it is first introduced in the conversation between Jack and Rose, who believes that her husband is not dead, despite Jack's insistence that everyone in the tail section is gone. ("Walkabout")
  • Follower/Leader - All his life, Jack has been told by his father that he "doesn't have what it takes. On the Island, he discovers that he does have it in him to lead the survivors. ("White Rabbit")
  • Man/Nature - Not so much of any deep metaphor, but this episode (and the one previous to it) employs juxtaposition of images to highlight Christian Shephard presence on the Island as something unnatural. ("White Rabbit")
  • Love/Hate - Throughout the episode, there is a constant motif of love (in the actions of Sun, in order to protect Jin, as well as the actions of the two early in the flashback) versus hate (as demonstrated by Jin's actions, and Michael's feelings towards him). ("House of the Rising Sun")
  • Static/Changing - In his past, Charlie chose to give in the heroin and not move on with his life. By contrast, in the events of this episode, he kicks his drug habit and becomes a hero by saving Jack from the cave-in. ("The Moth")
  • Needed/Unwanted - When he was a part of Drive Shaft, Charlie thought he was needed, until Liam told him that with the band, Charlie is nothing. On the Island, after struggling in his search for identity and place, Charlie finds that he is needed to rescue Jack. ("The Moth")
  • Unfeeling/Sympathetic - In his flashbacks and on the Island, Sawyer cons Jessica/Kate out of $160,000/a kiss, which demonstrate his coldness to human feeling. However, he calls off the deal in the flashback, due to the child, and reveals to Kate that he was the one who wrote his letter. In both cases, our understanding of, and symapthy for, his actions are juxtaposed with our disgust for his methods. ("Confidence Man")
  • Lucky/Unlucky - Hurley and Walt play backgammon, where Walt is lucky to get the rolls he wanted each time and Hurley is unlucky, getting rolls that caused him to lose. ("All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues")
  • Help/Hindrance - Charlie's bid to save Claire from Ethan ended up hindering the survivors as it prevented them from getting their answers. ("Homecoming")
  • Anger/Brokenness - In flashback, Locke is shown very angry and hitting his car. The scene switches to Locke in the jungle, kneeling and crying at the Hatch, seemingly broken. This is a juxtaposition of anger and sadness. ("Deus Ex Machina")
  • Brokeness/Hope - Directly after the moment described above, a light comes on in the Hatch, reinvigorating Locke's hopes and faith in the Island (and his destiny).
  • Life/Death - Boone dies at the same time Claire gives birth to Aaron, showing a juxtaposition of life and death with a strong contrast between the two. ("Do No Harm")

Season 2[]


Jack and Locke both look down the Hatch with a juxtaposition of ideas about the nature of its discovery.

  • Belief/Denial - Jack, a man of science, demonstrates a denial of destiny and fate when opening the Hatch. Locke, a man of faith, embraces the concept of fate and destiny. ("Man of Science, Man of Faith")
  • Placing Blame - Michael continues to blame Sawyer for Walt's abduction, until later when he blames himself. ("Adrift")
  • Celebration/Fear - During Hurley's handouts, Sun stays away from the crowd who is celebrating. This shows a juxtaposition of celebration and fear, for Sun is still uncertain about her husband's fate. ("Everybody Hates Hugo")
  • Together/Apart - Jin and Sun are seen finding each other for the first time in flashback, during a point on the Island when they are an Island apart. ("...And Found")
  • Believing - After her step-mother financially abandons Shannon, Boone tries to help her by giving her money. She refuses, because she knows that Boone does not really believe in her. In the next scene, Sayid is trying to help Shannon, and she says "I need you to believe in me." Sayid says he does believe in her. ("Abandoned")
  • Grief/Joy - During the merging of the tribes, the camp embraces their neighbors warmly. Meanwhile, Sayid carries Shannon's dead body back to be buried. ("Collision")
  • Fire/Water - The title of Charlie's fourth centered-episode is "Fire + Water". ("Fire + Water")
  • Torturer - Sayid is seen as both a young man who claims he will never torture and as an older man torturing yet again. ("One of Them")
  • Leave or Not - Bernard is desperately wanting to leave the Island. Rose does not want to leave the Island at all. ("S.O.S.")

Season 3[]

  • Crippled/Healed - Ben, crippled in a wheelchair, is contrasted heavily by Locke, who was healed by the Island. Locke expounds upon this juxtaposition by stating that "[Ben] is in a wheelchair, and [He] is not". ("The Man from Tallahassee")
  • Broken/Fixed - Hurley is seen in a flashback helping his dad fix a car which he is unable to do, yet on the Island he encounters the DHARMA van and manages to fix it. ("Tricia Tanaka Is Dead")

Season 4[]

  • Trust/Distrust - On the Island Sayid says that he will never affiliate himself with Ben, only to be doing so in the future. ("The Economist")
  • Lack of Maternal Skills/Being A Mother - On the Island, Kate is obviously uncomfortable when asked to hold Aaron by Claire, only for her to be raising the very same child in the future. ("Eggtown")

Season 5[]

  • Conman/ DHRAMA Head of Security - Sawyer is a conman before coming to the island, however he becomes DHRAMA's head of security ("LaFleur").
  • Not Telling/Telling - Before she dies, Charlotte Lewis confides in Daniel Faraday that a crazy man told her to leave he island in her childhood, and that she thought that the man was Daniel. Daniel, emotionally crushed by her tragic death, repeats over and over right afterwards that he won't tell her. In The Variable, Daniel eventually has no choice but to tell the young, 1977 Charlotte to leave the island with her mother. ("This Place Is Death") ("LaFleur") ("The Variable")
  • Good/Evil - Jacob and The Man In Black, two opposing forces, sit side by side on the beach. Their conversation starts out friendly and soon changes to The Man In Black's desire to kill Jacob. ("The Incident, Part 1")

Season 6[]

  • Crash/Landing - In season 6 we are shown a world where 815 never crashed, the lives of each character is vastly different in each timeline, and the flash-sideways have provided juxtaposition of just how different each character's world is.
  • Good Luck/Bad Luck - In the original timeline, Hurley winning the lottery brings him nothing but bad luck; yet in the sideways, he is blessed with seemingly endless fortune. ("Everybody Loves Hugo")
  • Voluntary descent/Involuntary descent - In a flash-sideways, Jack sits on a pew. On the island, he collapses in the grove. ("The End")
  • Kill/Be Killed - The Man in Black tells Sawyer he doesn't want to be killed to justify his massacre of the Temple, but it's the price he's forced to pay for wanting to leave the island when Kate shoots him and Jack kicks him off the cliff. ("Recon")  ("The End")


  • Juxtaposition can be seen between the survivors flashbacks and their present lives on the Island. This sometimes means juxtaposing comfort with terror or in some cases age with time.
    • Jack appears quite a bit older in a flash forward as he looks tired and weary; the scene then cuts to Jack looking fresh faced and alert on the Island. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 2")
  • Juxtaposition is also seen between the two camps of the Losties and the Others. This is made even clearer when The Barracks is introduced. The survivors suffer in the dark ages, while the Others live with most modern technology. This juxtaposition is what prompts Locke to accuse the Others of being hyprocrites.
  • It was also used to show the lifestyle difference between the tail section survivors and the midsection survivors to show how, even though both situations are as frightening, the tailies found life much harder as they did not have a doctor or any medical supplies. ("The Other 48 Days")
  • There is a strong juxtaposition concerning language barriers. In Season 1, nobody on the Island knows that Sun speaks English as well as Korean. In Season 4, nobody knows that Charlotte speaks Korean as well as English.

Recurring themes[]

Black and white[]

Main article: Black and white

One of the main uses of juxtaposition in Lost is "Black and White", usually stemming from the visual representation of an object or person, generally used to present two people/objects as opposites/a dulality. Below are some of the more prominent occurrences.

  • The game of backgammon played by Locke and Walt, in which Locke says that one player is "light" and one is "dark", uses contrast to form a bond between himself and Walt. This also hints at the contrst between the Islands inhabitants: the survivors and the Others. The survivors - who are seen as good people which is represented by the white - contrast with the Others - seen as evil represented by black. ("Pilot, Part 2")
  • A black stone and a white stone are found with Adam and Eve. ("House of the Rising Sun")
  • Claire had a vision in which Locke had one white eye and one black, highlighting his character's duality. ("Raised by Another")
  • In Jin's flashback, he (in a black suit) was ordered to drive Mr. Paik's thug, dressed in a white suit, to the home of Byung Han. This helps to underline their differing actions later in the scene. ("...In Translation")
  • Sawyer's glasses were made from a white frame and a black frame fused together. ("Deus Ex Machina")
  • The Swan's mural depicts a man with a white face, and a man with a black face; the Swan's countdown timer has some digits that are white on black, and others that are black on white. ("Man of Science, Man of Faith") ("Adrift")
  • At the end of this episode, there is a huge physical space between Jack (wearing white) and Ana Lucia (wearing black). The juxtaposition between the actions of these two people, and indeed the ways of life of the Losties vs. the Tailies are entirely incapsulated in this image. ("Collision")
  • In "White Rabbit", Locke told Jack he saw the Monster as a white light whereas Eko saw the Monster as black smoke in ("The 23rd Psalm"). This juxtaposition of black and white highlights Locke and Eko's different viewpoints of the Monster.
  • Bernard uses black rocks (on the white sand) in order to build his sign. ("S.O.S.")
  • The game of chess played on Mikhail's computer in the communications station by Locke shows the black and white pieces, this could represent the contrast between Mikhail and Locke. ("Enter 77")
  • Claire dresses entirely in black through most of the flashbacks in "Par Avion". Her hair is black, in contrast to her blonde hair on the Island. Claire has a white cast on her left arm and black bangles on her right arm during flashbacks in "Par Avion". All of these images are used to underline the major differences between Claire's conduct when she was younger versus her actions on the Island. ("Par Avion")
  • When Locke takes a plate of chicken from the refrigerator in Ben's home, Ben informs him that he has already eaten the dark meat, leaving Locke with the light meat, once again underlining the differences between them. ("The Man from Tallahassee")

See also[]