In this quote, the branches are being personified as Eric. This part of the book is when Eric sees the "beast" or realizes the dead dude in the parachute. Golding used personification here to really show the intensity of the moment. key words in this quote are flames and mastering. The flames represent the fear going through Eric at this time. This works perfectly in this situation because flames are harmful, aggressive, and lethal; all adjectives that people try to avoid because it scares them. Mastering also works perfect in this situation. Just image a plethora of bright orange flame completely engulfing a bundle of branches. The dictionary definition of mastering is to gain control of or overcome. That is exactly what fear does to Eric. Have you ever been mastered by fear? When your heat skips a couple of beats and you feel all around suddenly cold. Feeling as though you've just been revived from dead. Golding uses that personification for imagery. It really gave me that exact image of being completely mastered by fear.
This image represents the quote how I see it. With the branches being Eric and the flames being fear you can clearly see that the branches are completely engulfed, or mastered, by the flames. Another reason I like this photo is because of the different colored flames. To me this represents all the different thoughts and feelings going through him when he sees the "beast".