Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 40

BRIEF SUMMARY When Lord of the Flies opens, a plane carrying a group of British boys ages 6 to 12 has crashed

on a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean. Oops. (Also, apparently the world is at war. This matters.) With no adults around, the boys are left to fend for and govern themselves. Things start out okay. The boys use a conch shell as a talking stick, and Ralph, one of the older boys, becomes "chief." And then trouble begins. They're afraid of a "beast" somewhere on the island, and then they decide to build a signal fire using the glasses of a boy named Piggy (who is a portly fellow, and also the most loyal friend to Ralph). But Jack, jealous of Ralph's power, decides the boys should devote their energies to hunting food (namely pigs) instead of maintaining the fire. The longer they're on the island, the more savage he becomes. Meanwhile our other key player, a wise and philosophical boy named Simon, works with Ralph to build shelters. Eventually these latent conflicts become not so latent, and the boys who are supposed to be tending the fire skip out on their duties to kill a pig. The blood and gore of the hunt is all very exciting until they realize that, while they were out being bloodthirsty boys, the fire went out and a ship passed by without noticing them. Jack has also managed to punch Piggy in the face and break one lens of his glasses. Not good. Right about this time a dead man attached to a parachute blows in Mary-Poppins-style to the island. The mysterious parachuting creature is mistaken for the beast, and the boys begin a massive hunt to kill it. Only Simon (and, let's face it, the audience) is skeptical, believing instead they're really just afraid of themselves. He goes off into the woods to contemplate the situation while Jack and Ralph ascend the mountain and find the beastbut don't stick around long enough to see that it is in fact only a dead man. Back in the group, Jack decides Ralph shouldn't be chief anymore. He secedes and invites whoever wants to come with him and kill things (like more pigs, and maybe some people if they feel like it). Most of the older kids go with him, and Simon, hiding, watches Jack and Co. hunt a pig. This time, they slaughter a fat mother pig (in a scene described somewhat as a rape), cut off her head, and jam it onto a stick in the ground. Nice. Simon stares at the head, which he calls "the Lord of the Flies" as it tells him (he's hallucinating, by the way) that it is the beast and that it is part of him (Simon). Simon passes out, gets a bloody nose, and wakes up covered in sweat, blood, and other generally disgusting things. Despite all this, he decides to continue up the mountain to face the beast, i.e. dead guy. Then he vomits and staggers down the mountain. By now, Ralph and Piggy (both rather ravenous) are attending (with all the other boys) a big feast/party that Jack (decorated like an idol) is throwing. It's all a frenzied reenactment of the pig hunt until Simon, still bloody, sweaty, and covered in puke, stumbles down into the center of the crazed boys. He tries to tell them about the beast, but he is unrecognizable and the boys jab at him with their spears until he's dead. Oops. Simon's body is washed out to sea that night, and the wind

carries off the body of the dead parachuting man, while Ralph and Piggy convince themselves they didn't take part in murdering Simon. It's all downhill from here. Jack's crew attacks Ralph and Piggy and steals Piggy's eyeglasses to make fire on their own. When Ralph and Piggy decide to calmly talk it out with the "savages," Roger pushes a huge boulder off a cliff, killing Piggy. Ralph ends up running for his life, finds out that there's a head-on-stick future planned for him, and at last makes it to the shore of the island where he runs into an officer of the British Navy. The boys are rescued from their mock war, but we're left with the image of the Navy's "trim cruiser" from the real war of the adults.

Lord of the Flies Chapter 1 Summary The Sound of the Shell

When our story begins, "the fair boy" makes his way out of a jungle and toward a lagoon. A red and yellow bird flashes upward with a witch-like cry (eerie, isn't it?) just as another youngster, "the fat boy" who is wearing "thick spectacles" follows behind. The two boys meet and discuss the fact that, holy smokes, their plane has crashed. The fat boy wonders where the man with the megaphone is, which we should all keep in mind for the next few paragraphs. Also, there are no grown-ups. Also, they can't find the plane or the pilot. The fair boy concludes that both must have been dragged out to sea by a storm. He makes the dire statement that "There must have been some kids still in it," "it" being the plane that went out to sea. The fat boy (seriously, that's what he's called) asks the fair boy (again, that's what he's called) what his name is. It's Ralph. Ralph has no interesting in learning the fat boy's name. But, the pair assumes others have survived and are around here somewhere, maybe hiding in the copious foliage or something. The fat boy lags behind Ralph because of his "ass-mar," which is probably "asthma." Also, the fat boy has to poo. (English major-y people called this kind of thing "realism.") Ralph races ahead to the water, and we get a detailed description of the shore, the palm trees, the coarse grass, and the decaying coconuts. This is all in contrast to "the darkness of the forest." Ralph decides the thing to do is have a swim. So he gets naked. Many more naked boys to come, by the way, so be prepared. While we're busy getting a description of Ralph, the fat boy shows up and joins in the nude swimming fun. The water is "warmer than [their] blood [. . .] like swimming in a huge bath." (So, a delightful hot tub, if you ignore the blood imagery.) We get a nice description of Ralph; he is twelve and has the build of maybe being a boxer someday when he's older, but you can also plainly see that there is "no devil" in him. Lastly, he has "bright, excited eyes." The fat boy admits to Ralph that most people call him "Piggy," and asks Ralph not to tell anyone. Ralph is not the nicest guy to Piggy ("They call you PIGGY!?" sort of thing), but we're holding out judgment on him since he is, after all, a twelve-year-old boy. Ralph claims that his father, who is in the Navy, is going to come rescue them. Piggy, however, says the pilot told them (before the crash) that an atomic bomb had gone off and everyone was dead.

This, combined with the earlier megaphone comment, suggests that perhaps the boys were being evacuated, maybe even from some kind of war zone, when the plane crashed. Anyway, Piggy asserts that they're probably going to have to "stay here till [they] die." On this cheerful note, they decide to put their clothes back on. In doing so, they find a large white conch shell, which Piggy remembers is a faux, MacGyver-style megaphone. Ralph makes several efforts before an amazing sound comes out of the shell, "a deep, harsh boom." As you might expect, man has ruined the peaceful stillness of the virgin island. Amidst the squawking birds and scurrying furry things, the other boys come out of the woodwork. Some are small. Many are naked. While Ralph continues to revel in the "violent pleasure" of blowing the conch, Piggy goes to great lengths to ask and learn everyone's name, among them a young child named Johnny and a pair of twins named Sam and Eric. Ralph sees a dark, fumbling creature, but concludes that it is only a group of boys wearing black choir robes. There is a redheaded boy at the head of the pack "controlling them." The boy commands them all to stand in a line. We're thinking it must be rather uncomfortable in the sun to be wearing heavy, black cloaks, and our suspicions are confirmed when one of the boys faints, face-first, in the sand. The boys ask the redheaded leader (Merridew) "But can't we, Merridew" which we think means "Please let us take off these absurd cloaks." Merridew ignores the boy who's fainted. Piggy doesn't ask names of this group, since they're kind of scary. But he does remind everyone that names are oh-so-important. About this time, Ralph tells everyone that Piggy's name is Piggy. Nice. And now we meet the rest of the cast. We've got Maurice, who smiles a lot; Jack Merridew, the tyrant you already met and the largest of the choir boys; Roger, who is "slight" and "furtive" and has an "inner intensity of avoidance and secrecy"; Simon, who has recovered from his fainting spell; and then Bill, Robert, Harold, and Henry. Guess which one is evil incarnate. Jack says they should work out the getting rescued part. Ralph's response is "Shut up." He decides they need a chief. Jack declares that, most sensibly, he should be chief because he's the head boy of the choir and can sing a C sharp, which everyone knows will come in handy later when negotiating with foreign peoples. Because they are good British boys who know how to follow parliamentary procedure, they decide to vote. Amazingly, they pull this off without the aid of an electoral college, and Ralph becomes chief (although the choir boys did vote for Jack out of obligation). Interestingly, Piggy hesitated to vote for Ralph, probably because Ralph screwed him over with the whole name thing. "But why was Ralph elected?" you ask. Actually, Golding tells us. He says Ralph has a stillness, is attractive, and most importantly has the conch. Ralph feels bad and gives Jack a consolation prize. No, not a useless vice presidency, but rather control over the choirboys. Jack decides his group (the choir-boys) will act as the hunters. Apparently, he's powerhungry AND bloodthirsty. Ralph, Jack and Simon go off to explore the uninhabited island for the purpose of discovering if it is, in fact, uninhabited. Piggy offers to go, but Jack tells him he's not suited for a job like this (with all the walking and such). Piggy protests, but Ralph sends him back to take names. They do find tracks and wonder aloud what made them. Ralph asks "Men?" and Jack answers "Animals." Hmm! Like all good exploring banter, their dialogue is filled with such British wonders as "wacco," "wizard" and "sucks to you!"

The boys find a large rock poised near the edge of the cliff and do the only thing that preteen boys could be expected to do in such a circumstance: push it over the edge. It falls "like a bomb." They finally climb to the top of this big mountain they've found and look all around at the island. Ralph says "This belongs to us." They make some cartographic observations of the land, noting the large coral reef and the gash in the trees where their plane hit. On their way back to the lagoon, they find a small pig, tangled in the creepers. Jack raises his knife to kill it, but can't quite bring himself to, and the pig escapes. Jack makes lots of excuses, but he thinks, "Next time there [will] be no mercy."

Lord of the Flies Chapter 2 Summary Fire on the Mountain

Ralph blows the conch and calls another meeting. By now, thank goodness, the choir boys have removed their cloaks. Using his authority as the newly elected chief, Ralph tells the boys that they need to get organized. Apparently that means rules. Now all boys have to raise their hand to talk. Oh, and no one can speak unless they're holding the conch shell. The boys are excited about having rules, but mostly so that they can punish those who break them. This notion elicits cries of "Whee-oh!" "Wacco!" "Bong!" and "Doink!" Piggy takes the conch to raise a few points: (1) they might never get off this island and (2) assuming they don't, they should figure out how to go about the process of not dying. Ralph agrees with the whole "we might be here until eternity" thing, but he declares quite clearly that "this is a good island." Go ahead and sticky-note this page. (But in case you forget to sticky-note it, you have another chance several paragraphs later when he again says "It's a good island.") One small boy with a mulberry-colored birthmark, the reason for which will be shortly explained, requests the conch and everyone laughs until Piggy demands he be allowed to speak. The kid is too scared to talk in front of everyone, so Piggy acts as translator: He's afraid of a mysterious snake-thing in the jungle. He describes it as a "beastie" and says it comes only in the dark. (So apparently the boys must have been on the island for at least one night before they found each other and began to organize.) The other boys snicker and decide that the beastie is just the ropey-looking creepers that hang in the trees. Jack says of course there isn't a beast, but just in case they're all going to go hunt for it anyway. Ralph is forced to concede, but he insists on making a signal fire so when his father comes to rescue them on a ship, the men on board will see the smoke and know where to find them. Also, burning things is fun. Everyone tears off, and Piggy remarks that they're all acting "like a bunch of kids." Because they are a bunch of kids. Everyone excitedly piles up the wood before realizing they have no way of starting the fire. Jack very helpfully mumbles something about rubbing two sticks together (Eagle Scout Lesson #2, if you've been counting.) They use Piggy's glasses to start the fire after many hurrahs and much gathering of wood.

Piggy is not happy about the use of his glasses for this purpose. What we mean is: "[Piggy's] voice rose to a shriek of terror as Jack snatched the glasses off his face." Ralph says that they need to choose certain, responsible people to keep the fire going at all timesin case a ship passes by. Jack declares: "We're English, and the English are best at everything." Piggy, rather blind without his glasses, grabs the conch from Ralph and complains about how no one pays attention to his ideas. While the boys argue, the fire spreadslike wildfire. As the smoke drifts through the air, Piggy rants about all these things they should have done, like build shelters and show him some respect. Then, most likely because of the smoke, his asthma flares up and he can't breathe. Yet, it seems he has enough breath to point out that the small children, a.k.a. "the littluns," seem to be missing, especially that one who complained about "the beastie" and had a mulberry-colored birthmark, the better to distinguish him by when he's gone. He seems to be the most missing of all.

Lord of the Flies Chapter 3 Summary Huts on the Beach

Time passes. When Chapter 3 opens, we see Jack, his bare back a "mass of dark freckles and peeling sunburn." He's naked (what do you know) except for a pair of tattered shorts. Slang alert: in British English, "shorts" means "underwear." So, he's wandering around in his boxer briefs. Jack has become obsessed with killing a pig. Obsessed to the point of tracking down pig droppings. Based on his sniffing the air all the time, it seems that Jack is now a lot like an animal himself, or at the least a primitive ("primitive") kind of man. Jack fails to catch a pig, yet again. He tries to take it out on someone else, meaning Ralph and Simon, who are trying to build shelters out of leaves. It's not going so well, as you might have expected. So Ralph and Jack do what they always do together: argue. Jack thinks it's more important to kill things, while Ralph thinks it's more important to not die of exposure. (This is kind of like playing Civilization, where you can win either by killing everyone else, or by being the first civilization to become so scientifically advanced that you make it to space.) Ralph points out that everyone is still scared of the beastie, "As if it wasn't a good island." (But didn't Piggy say it was a "good island"? Twice?) Jack, too, admits he gets a little scared when he's in the jungle alone. Despite all this, Ralph is still mostly concerned with the fire. Oh hey, says Jack. Maybe they could paint their faces! Wait, what? See, if they had painted faces, they could sneak up on the pigs while they're sleeping. Oookay. Piggy lies on his stomach and stares at the water. But he does point out that Simon is the one helpful guy, whenever he's not missing, which he tends to be quite frequently. Camera swivel: now we're looking at Simon as he walks into the forest "with an air of purpose." We're told that his "bright eyes" made Ralph think he was "delightfully gay and wicked," when he's not at all. He is also tan, barefoot, and has "a coarse mop of black hair." The littluns follow after him, and he helps them pick fruit too tall for them to reach before heading deeper into the jungle by himself.

Simon comes to a place where "the creepers had woven a great mat that hung at the side of an open space in the jungle." He crawls inside this space (we cannot imagine why) and chills out there while evening approaches, musing non-specifically.

Lord of the Flies Chapter 4 Summary Painted Faces and Long Hair

More unspecified time has passed. The boys have developed a sort of rhythm in their lives that involves the littluns playing together, the biguns (Jack and the choir boys) still hunting pigs, and the other boys (Ralph, Simon, and Piggy) trying to build shelters and keep the signal fire going. BTW, there are sharks in the water beyond the reef. One littlun named Percival cries all the time and everyone thinks he's a little crazy. The biguns and littluns have become rather separate groups, although Simon, Maurice, and Robert are walking a fine line because of their size (in general, though, it seems they are considered biguns). Being a littlun is terrible, since no one really takes care of them. They've built and decorated sandcastles near the little river, which has become their play and general dwelling area. We see Henry, the biggest of the littluns, hanging out with the smallest (Percival and Johnny). The children are "at peace" until Roger and Maurice come along and step on their sandcastles, with Roger in the lead and Maurice feeling a little guilty. Once again, can you guess which one will end up being evil incarnate? Roger follows Henry as he wanders off to an overlook; below, Ralph, Simon, Piggy, and Maurice are splashing in the pool (the small and naturally-occurring kind, not the cabana kind). Roger throws stones at Henry. Well, kind of. He misses on purpose because he still has some semblance of decency left, at least for the time being. Jack calls to Roger; he's with Sam, Eric, and Bill and still on this pig-hunting kick. Jack refers to the twins as "Samneric." After going through with the face painting plan, using white and red clay and a stick of charcoal, Jack looks at his reflection in a coconut shell full of water and is stoked to see an "awesome stranger" looking back at him. He begins to dance, and it seems that the mask is a "thing on its own, behind which Jack hid." When he orders the boys to come with him, they obey "the mask," not Jack. Creepy stuff. Meanwhile, back at the lagoon, Ralph, Simon and Piggy are still swimming with Maurice. Piggy suggests that they should make a sundial, but, as has become general habit, no one takes his suggestions seriously. Suddenly, Ralph spots a ship. Much excitement follows. Is the signal fire still lit? Ralph dashes up the mountain to see, "doing desperate violence to his naked body among the rasping creepers so that blood was sliding over him." (Yesstill naked.) But before he goes, Simon seems to know what's up. He "crie[s] out as though he [has] hurt himself" and tries to touch Ralph's face. Interesting! As you might have guessed, the signal fire has gone out. By the time they stop panicking, the ship has disappeared. So, where are the (former) choir boys who were supposed to be tending the fire?

Everyone looks down from the mountain and sees a procession of choir boys who have finally ditched the black robes and joined in the public nudity. But, they're still ominously wearing their black caps. They are also, equally ominously, led by Jack, carrying a dead pig on a stake, and chanting: "Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood." Jack and his posse tell the tale of how they killed the pig. Ralph stares at them, expressionless, and finally says, "You let the fire go out." Jack and Co. experience that "oops" feeling, accompanied by a side of intense guilt. Piggy rails on them for being irresponsible, so naturally Jack punches Piggy in the face. Simon finds the glasses and reveals that a lens is broken, which leaves Piggy with vision in just one eye. Oops. Finally, Jack breaks down and apologizes. Standing still and stoic, Ralph simply commands them to rebuild the fire. Huzzah: he reasserts his chieftainship, the choir boys rebuild the fire away while Ralph just stands there and glares at them until he finally comes with what's left of Piggy's glasses to light the fire. Piggy is obviously not comfortable with his only means to sight being used this way; he snatches the "specs" back immediately, as the boys begin to roast the pig they killed, ripping off hunks of meat and devouring it like wolves. In his attempt to be indignant and above everyone, Ralph tries to not eat any of the meat Jack is roasting. That lasts about two seconds once the smell reaches his nose; remember, they've been eating nothing but fruit and plants since they got to the island. No one hands Piggy any meat, and when Jack gives him a hard time about his not helping with the hunt, Simon gives his own food to Piggy. Jack is furious, and yells at Simon to "Eat! Damn you!" He basically realizes he has no power over the boys unless they eat the meat he got for them all. The hunters describe their kill again in gory detail, and continue their chant of "Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in." Awesome. The boys are becoming violent barbarians and fast. Ralph decides to call another meetingbecause that seems like it's going to workand walks down the mountain.

Lord of the Flies Chapter 5 Summary

Ralph sounds the conch shell and the boys gather for a meeting. A serious meeting. We get a description of the meeting place: we know it's on a sort of platform, and now we're told it's shaped like a triangle. Ralph, as the chief, sits on a huge log, which lies parallel to the beach below. To his right is another not-so-chiefly log, and on the left four smaller logs, all of which make for seats for the boys. Ralph gets rather philosophical here before the big meeting, pondering such relevant matters as, "If faces [are] different when lit from above or belowwhat [is] a face? What [is] anything?" It seems the wilderness has made Ralph question the very foundations of his knowledge. If this seems weird to you, we suggest you live on an uninhabited island for a month or two. After all this pondering, Ralph gets around to blowing the conch. He reminds the boys of some rules: (1) (as you might have guessed) KEEP THE SIGNAL FIRE GOING, (2) don't build any other fires, and (3) do their toilet business by the rocks near the bathing pool instead of all over the island, as they have been doing (the boys snigger and laugh at this last item). When he sets down the conch, Jack grabs it up and tells all the little children to stop acting like children. He says there is no beast (he's been all over the island), and if they're afraid they should suck it up.

There's this great moment where someone asks what a beast would eat, someone else says "pig," and yet another someone said "We eat pig." Piggy, in a moment of astounding and unprecedented perception, states that there is no beast, and no fear, eitherunless they get frightened of people. So there's nothing to fear but themselves. We're thinking particularly Jack. One of the littluns (Phil) tries to declare that the beast comes out at night. When they tell him it was a dream, he says quite adamantly no, he was dreaming that the creepers were snakes, and then after he woke up he saw something big moving in the dark. Ralph insists it was a dream, until Simon admits he was the one mucking about in the dark. Simon grabs the conch and explains that sometimes he likes to go hang out in this "place" in the jungle. They keep talking about "getting taken short," which is refined British for "needing to poo." Supposedly, this is why Simon was out, but we all know that's not true. Another littlun comes forward, and again Piggy has to hold the conch for him and coax some words out of him. This little guy is none other than Percival. Percival gets a little nutty; he yammers off his street address, he cries, then he yawns, then he staggers, and finally he just lies down in the grass and goes to sleep, but not before telling Jack that the beast "comes out of the sea." Simon makes a comment on "mankind's essential illness" and states that the beast is "only us." Is it just us, or is Simon basically the smartest 12-year-old ever? Simon tries to further his point by asking, "what's the dirtiest thing there is?" Jack's answer, "one crude expressive syllable" (yes, you know what it is) causes the other boys to scream with delight (remember, essentially, these are proper, well-educated British boysswearing was a big thrill for them). As the boys laugh, Simon gives up on his effort to make them think about themselves and sits down in defeat. Maybe the beast is a ghost? Someone yells at Piggy to "shut up, you fat slug!" and the whole meeting begins to disintegrate. Ralph shouts that the rules are the only thing they've got holding them together, but Jack is louder and leads a pack of boys off to search for the beast and hunt him down. Piggy, Ralph and Simon are left in despair. Piggy wants to blow the conch, but Ralph makes the third amazing comment of the chapter, stating that, if he blows it now and no one comes back, the conch will have lost its power completely. And then, they will all "be like animals." He wants to give up being chief, but Piggy asks desperately what would happen then. Simon tries to convince Ralph to go on with his duties. There's some talk of how, if only the grown-ups were there, they'd know what to do. They would have rules and they would meet and discuss. Apparently, the boys have never seen the British parliament in action. Anyway, they really wish they had a "sign" from the adults. As the boys stand there in the darkness, a thin wail arises. It's one of the littluns, Percival, crying out from his spot on the grass.

Lord of the Flies Chapter 6 Summary Beast from Air

As if that weren't scary enough, Chapter 6 opens with a "sign" from the adults: it's a parachuting dead body drifting down to the ground from a battle being fought by airplanes above the island. Sam and Eric are tending the signal fire when they see the freaky-looking body. Screaming and running away follows. Ralph is dreaming of home when the twins wake him up screaming that they saw the beast and that it was furry, had wings, teeth, and claws, there was something moving behind its head, and it followed them by "slinking behind the trees." By now, other boys have gathered around to listen, including our favorite troublemaker, Jack. Naturally Jack wants to hunt the thing down. Jack, Ralph, and an assortment of biguns head off to do so. When Piggy asks who's going to look after the littluns while everyone else is off hunting for the beast, Jack says, "Sucks to the littluns." On that charming note, they let the hunt begin. They decide to head for the tail end of the island, where the rocks make a sort of bridge that they call "the castle." Simon is doubtful that there's really a beast. He imagines "a picture of a human, at once heroic and sick." When they get to the rocks, Ralph declares that, since he's the chief, he'll look for the beast. Several heart-pounding moments later, he sees that Jack has followed him. Not surprisingly, there is no beast inside. They have some fun exploring. And then they decide to climb to the top of the mountain to look for this beast thing. The other boys start swarming into the rocks, having a grand old time, until Ralph realizes the signal fire has gone out again. With much grumbling and muttering, the boys follow Jack and Ralph to the top of the mountain.

Lord of the Flies Chapter 7 Summary Shadows and Tall Trees

The boys stop to rest and eat some fruit theyve found. Almost immediately, some of the boys steal off to do their business. Ralph, by now quite dirty, wishes that he could take a bath. Oh, and cut his hair (still). But then he looks around at the other boys and realizes that hes become used to the conditions of filthiness it has become normal. He sighs, knowing that this isnt really a good thing. Ralph stares out at the ocean hes now on the other side of the island, no longer shielded by the lagoon. This, of course, is hugely meaningful to him. Right about this time, Ralph realizes Simon is speaking right into his ear. Simon actually does say, Youll get back all right. Ralph thinks Simon is batty and says so yet he is still somehow comforted. Simon seems to have some knowledge of things that the other boys dont. For a moment, they even smile at each other. But before you start feeling all comforted, notice that Simon says youll get back all right. Roger calls out that hes found some fresh (steaming) pig poo. The boys start on up the mountain again as Ralph thinks fondly of home: his bedroom, books, his mother and father and good-humored and friendly feelings. Right about now, a huge boar (thats a male pig with tusks) comes crashing out of the bushes. Ralph flings his spear, which sticks in the boars snout for about a second before falling out.

Ralph proudly shouts that he hit the boar, and then decides that maybe hunting is a good thing after all. Jack takes off after the boar, which eventually gets away, but not before wounding Jacks arm. And yet the excitement doesnt end there; the boys reenact the scene with some poor boy (Robert) voluntarily playing the boar. Things get a little out of hand as the boys play at jabbing Robert with their spears. They start the chant again: Kill the pig! Cut his throat, etc., etc. Ralph cant help joining in (!) as they finish the game with Robert screaming in true terror as they pin him down. When its all over, Robert isnt really hurt and Ralph says it was just a game, but even he knows that he is shamelessly lying to himself. Everyone (except Robert, we assume) wishes they could do it again. Jack playfully suggests they could use a littlun. By this time, the sun is starting to go down; the boys discuss whether to go on up on the mountain and risk facing the beast in the dark, or whether to go back to Piggy, who was left behind with the littluns. Finally, Simon goes off through the jungle to tell Piggy that they wont be back until after dark. The rest of the boys head fearfully up the darkening mountain. As the group chickens out one by one, only Ralph, Jack, and Roger are left. Jack goes ahead and sees the beast (the parachute man) bowing and lifting in the wind. He cant tell what it is and runs back to the other two. Then, bravely, the trio goes together to investigate. Ralph is so afraid he thinks he might pass out. They finally get a look at what they think is a giant ape sitting there, asleep, with his head between his knees. As the wind roars through the trees, the creature lifts his head, holding toward them the ruin of a face. For the second time, much running and screaming follows.

Lord of the Flies Chapter 8 Summary Gift for the Darkness

Cut to the next morning. The boys tell Piggy about the beast. Ralph pushes back his mop of hair (Ralph's hair seems to have taken on a life of its own) and says they're beaten; if everyone is too scared to go to the top of the mountain, they can't keep the signal fire going. Jack, trying to take control of the situation, calls an assembly by blowing the conch. He tells the group about the beast and then argues that Ralph shouldn't be chief because (1) he likes Piggy, (2) he doesn't hunt, and (3) he was scared on the mountain. When no one is willing to impeach Ralph, Jack storms off. Ralph is just going to have to catch his own pigs from now on. BUT, before his grand exit, Jack invites anyone who wants to come with him. No one knows quite what to do, but Ralph says Jack will come back once it gets dark. Piggy is not happy with this beast situation, since he can no longer convince himself it's all been imagined. Meanwhile, Simon says that they should go up the mountain and face the beast, because it's not like they have anything else to do. No one agrees with Simon.

Piggy finally comes up with the brilliant idea to build a new signal fire down by the beach instead of depending on the one up on the mountain. The boys do so. Piggy wants to run experiments to see which of the green leaves make the most smoke when they burn. After they get it going, Piggy and Ralph look around and realize that many of the biguns Maurice, Bill, and Roger and Roberthave disappeared. The only ones left besides Piggy and Ralph are "Samneric" and Simon. No, wait, Simon seems to be gone, too. They wonder if that crazy loon has climbed up the mountain by himself. Cut to Simon. He's in his little meditation spot in the jungle, to sit behind the great woven mat of creepers. Meanwhile, far off along the beach, Jack and his band of brothersmake pig-killing plans. They decide that if they leave part of the pig for the beast, the beast won't bother themyou know, like an offering. Conveniently, they find a bunch of sleeping pigs. They set their sights on the biggest, fattest, mother pig, who is adorably nursing a row of piglets. What follows is a bloody and horrific scene in which the boys drive their knives into this screaming pig. The boys stare at the dead mother pig. What now? They laugh and rub her blood over their facesobviously. "Right up her ass," says one of the boys (referring to where he put his spear) and they act out the whole thing all over again. Oops. In order to cook the pig, they're going to need firewhich they'll steal from Ralph's group later on. Jack tells Roger to "sharpen a stick at both ends." Then he bends over the pig with his knife and cuts off her head. They ram a pointed stick into the crack of a rock and jam the pig's severed head onto the other end. They leave the head as a gift for the beast and carry off the remains of the pig. Now get ready for some heavy, thought-provoking, killer lines in the next ten pages or so. We suggest you go read those ten pages and then come back here when you're done. (Or get immersed and don't come back until you finish the book.) Simon is hiding behind his mat of creepers, where, unbeknownst to the other boys, he has been watching them slaughter the pig. He now stares at the head's half-closed eyes, which assure him that "everything [is] a bad business." Simon respondsout loudthat he already knows that. We start off the scene with the head "seeming" to say things to Simon. Simon stares at the black blob of bloody guts that the boys have piled on the ground. It's covered with buzzing flies. The flies start gathering on Simon's hot, sweaty face, but he does nothing. As the flies crawl over him, Simon stares at the impaled head, the "Lord of the Flies." He watches it "grinning" back at him, and we're going to go out on a limb and say that he might be hallucinating just a little bit. Okay, we're getting pretty nervous for Simon. But now we return to Piggy and Ralph, who are lying on the sand, gazing at the fire. Samneric have wandered off. Simon is gone. They realize it is going to rain and don't know how to keep a fire going, especially with so few people now. Ralph asks Piggy what makes things "break up as they do." Piggy thinks it's Jack, and he's also honored that Ralph is talking to him like an equal. The two of them lie there contemplating how not to die and hopefully get off the island, too, when "demoniac figures with faces of white and red and green [rush] out howling."

Oh, wait, it's only Jack, Maurice, and Robert with painted faces. They run up to the fire and grab some of the burning sticks. It's pig roast time! Jack invites everyone to come eat. Two of the "savages" say, "The chief has spoken" (sounds like Jack is declaring himself the new chief), and then they all run off again. Hm, says Ralph. Looks like they're having fun, and wouldn't it be nice to join them But then he reminds everyone that they must tend the fire, becausebecause Uh, rescue? says Piggy. It seems like Ralph might be starting to lose it here. Samneric and Bill speak up. As much as they like Ralph and all, they would really prefer eating some food to starving to death. They all head off to the feast. Maybe Ralph's gang could hunt their own pig? No one seems interested, and he accepts momentary defeat. We're back to Simon again. The Lord of the Flies now tells Simon, with dialogue quotes and everything, that he's an "ignorant, silly little boy." The Lord of the Flies asks if Simon is afraid of him, and Simon shakes. The poor guy is having a hard time. His tongue is swollen (might have something to do with how thirsty he felt earlier), and he's now clearly hallucinating that he's having a conversation with the impaled pig's head The pig's head says there's no one there to help poor Simon. "Only me," the pig's head says. "And I'm the Beast." The Lord of the Flies rolls his eyes at the notion that the beast was something that you could hunt and kill. He says that he's part of Simon, that he's close, and that he's the reason "why things are what they are" (the answer to Ralph's question of several paragraphs ago). Simon feels that "one of his times is coming on," like maybe he's about to have a seizure. The pig threatens that "we are going to have fun on this island," and that everyoneand here he lists off the names of the boysare going to "do" Simon. We're getting a really bad feeling about this.

As the Lord of the Flies continues to talk, Simon feels that he's falling into a "vast mouth." He faints.

Lord of the Flies Chapter 9 Summary A View to a Death

Now it's evening. The unconscious Simon gets a bloody nose. When he wakes, The Lord of the Flies is still hanging on his stick "like a black ball." Simon wakes and asks (as he did before): "What else is there to do?" We know what that means. Covered in dried blood, Simon staggers out of his hiding place and begins making his way up the mountain, still intending to face the beast like a man. Or, like a young boy who just happens to be very brave and wise. When he gets to the top, he of course sees that the beast is just a dead body on a parachute, all tangled up in the rocks. Simon pukes (the dead body is a rather hideous and smelly sight) and then frees the parachute line from the rocks. He staggers downward to tell everyone that the "beast" is harmless, almost collapsing with each step. Meanwhile, Ralph and Piggy join everyone at Jack's party, "to make sure nothing happens."

When they get to the party, they see that everyone is having a grand old time. Jack is sitting on a great log, "painted and garlanded" like an idol. He graciously offers Piggy and Ralph some food, which they take, and then bosses everyone to get him a drink and tell him he's the fairest one of all and so forth. After everyone eats, Jack demands to know who is going to join his tribe. His seriousness and bossiness is a real downer, and the party stops feeling like a party. In response, Ralph says he's the chief, but his voice trembles as he speaks and no one really believes him. There's some rather ominous thunder. Ralph offers to blow the conch and call an assembly, but Jack says no one will hear it. Everyone knows Jack is right about this. Piggy suggests quietly to Ralph that this would probably be a good time for them to get the heck out of there. Lightning flashes and they all decide to (what else) reenact the pig's death scene for the umpteenth time. Only this time, instead of chanting about the pig, they shout: "Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!" As they dance wildly, something crawls toward them from the forest and stumbles into the circle of boys. It is Simon, who cries out something about a "dead man on a hill." The boys, who are in some kind of a fury of wild chanting and blood lust, aren't really in a listening kind of mood. In fact, they decide that Simon is the beast. Pouncing on him, they scream, strike, bite, and tear. "There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws." Rain pours down, suddenly, and the boys straggle away, leaving the pitiful heap that is Simon lying in the dirt, his blood "staining the sand." As the wind blows, it picks up the other "beast" (the dead man in the parachute) and carries him out to seathe boys "rush screaming into the darkness." In case you can't tell, this is an amazing paragraphyou should take a look at it. Eventually the rain stops, and as the water rises under the moon, "Simon's dead body [moves] out toward the open sea." Yep, they've actually killed himeven Ralph and Piggy helped.

Lord of the Flies Chapter 10 Summary The Shell and the Glasses

Piggy and Ralph try to keep the fire going and talk about what happened. (We're thinking they must have realized it was Simon sometime in between "Kill that thing!" and waking up the next morning.) Ralph shouts that it was murder and Piggy shrieks that it was not, it was just an accident. Samneric show up, and all four of them try to convince each other that they didn't really participate like the others had. The four of them continue to rationalize until they've decided that they never even attended the dance, that they had left early before anything bad happened. Denial: not just a river in Egypt. Now we're with Roger, who is climbing up Castle Rock. Someone calls for him to halt, and Roger isn't surprised as he thinks of people hiding from "the horrors" of the previous night. It's Robert; he and Roger talk about how Jack is a real chief. They look at a log that's been jammed under a huge rock. When Robert leans on the protruding end of the log, the rock groans. Roger thinks this is super-nifty.

They then discuss the fact that Jack has tied up Wilfred (a character we haven't seen until now) and is going to beat him up for some reason. When they get back to the cave, Jack is sitting, naked from the waist up with his face painted in white and red. Wilfred, untied but "newly beaten," is crying. Jackexcuse us, "the chief"announces that they'll hunt again tomorrow. He explains away the whole last-night's-murder thing by saying that the beast came disguised, and may come again. Oh, and they're still going to have to steal fire to roast the meat. Back at the shelter on the beach, Piggy yammers on about building a radio. Sam and Eric wonder if they'll be captured by "The Reds," but think that would be better than you-know-who. Ralph gets a little nutty. He can't remember why he wants to make a fire, he gives up on it for the night, and then he's dancing around as he thinks of a bus station and how wonderful it would be to go home. He is interrupted by shouts as Sam and Eric start fighting with each other. They've never acted like this before, and Piggy whispers desperately to Ralph that they've got to get out of this somehow before they go "barmy," or "bomb happy," as he puts it. Ralph pushes the "damp tendrils of hair out of his eyes" (there's that hair again) and suggests sarcastically to Piggy that he write a letter to his auntie to come rescue them. Well, sure, says Piggybut he has no envelope and no stamp. Nighttime. There's definitely something moving outsideit must be the beast. (Um, that didn't work out so well last time, guys. Just sayin'.) Ralph and Piggy cling desperately to each other inside the shelter. Ralph, in a not-so-noble moment, prays that the beast will prefer littluns to him. Tension builds until something crashes into their shelter and pounces on them, beating them viciously. The shelter collapses. After the attackers leave, Samneric come in to see if they are all right. They aren't.

Lord of the Flies Chapter 11 Summary Castle Rock

Piggy wants to go to Jack and the others and insist that they give his glasses back, because it's the right and reasonable thing to do. Ralph thinks this is going to work just about as well as we do, but he agrees to try. The pair decides to bring the conch shell with them to give an impression of authority, and maybe clean themselves up a little, too. Ralph and Piggy argue a little about the smoking fire, and then they set off along the beach with Sam and Ericleading Piggy, who's practically blind now. When they get there, the boys in Jack's group are "painted out of recognition." Ralph announces that he's calling an assembly and wishes he'd had the bright idea to tie his hair back like the "savages." Roger throws a small stone at Sam and Eric, and then Jack and Ralph argue about Piggy's glasses. Piggy screams, afraid to be left by himself when he can't see. This is going well. Not. "'You pinched Piggy's specs,' said Ralph, breathlessly. 'You've got to give them back.'" Jack is not convinced. Once Ralph calls Jack a dirty thief, the boys begin to fight, swinging at each other with their spears.

But Golding is careful to tell us that they use their spears "as sabers," not jabbing at each other with the "lethal points," possibly because everyone is still a little bit traumatized over Simon's death. Piggy tries to defuse the sitch by telling Ralph to remember what they came forthe fire, the specs. And then Ralph says something interesting: he tells Jack, "You aren't playing the game" and then he cuts himself off. He sure isn't. Jack's next move is to tell the savages to tie up Sam and Eric. There is some hesitation as everyone in the crowd thinks (roughly speaking): "Seriously?" Seriously. The twins get tied up and Jack revels in his ability to boss the others around. As the fighting between Jack and Ralph worsens, Piggy yells at them to let him speak and holds up the conch. Surprisingly, everyone quiets down. Piggy tries to reason with them, telling them to cut out all this painted savage nonsense. He suggests that law and rescue are better than hunting and breaking things up. Jack's tribe isn't convinced. Remember that lever catapult from Chapter 6? High above them on the cliff, Roger leans on the lever "with a sense of delirious abandonment." Piggy is still holding the conch when the boulder strikes him. The conch shatters into thousands of pieces, and Piggy falls forty feet toward the sea. He lands on the rocks below, the contents of his skull oozing out. We are told that his body twitches a bit, "like a pig's after it has been killed." The boys watch in horror as the waves suck Piggy's body into the sea. Apparently, this is the sign Jack needed: he screams that he really is chief now because the conch is gone, and then throws his spear at Ralph. Jabbed in the ribs, Ralph turns and runs, with the savages (ineffectively) hurling spears after them. Jack returns to home base, standing with Roger in front of Sam and Eric and demanding they join his tribe. There's an interesting Jack-Roger moment here; Roger edges past Jack, "only just avoiding pushing him with his shoulder." Jack shouts and pokes at the twins, but we end the chapter with Roger advancing towards them menacingly"wielding a nameless authority."

Lord of the Flies Chapter 12 Summary Cry of the Hunters

Ralph is completely alone nowno Piggy, no Simon, no Samneric. He hides in the thick underbrush, wondering what to do about the rather serious wound on his ribs. He can't wash himself without risking capture, so he just lies there, trying to think. At one point, peering out from his hiding spot, he sees a painted faceBill. But no; this wasn't Bill. It was a savage who had nothing to do with Bill. Finally, as the sunlight starts to fade, he sneaks over to the edge of the thicket so he can see what Jack and his group are doing. The smoke is rising and he can smell the pig they are roasting. Ralph is hungry. He tries to convince himself that they will leave him alone, that everything was an accident and that "they're not as bad as that." It doesn't work. He makes his way back to the beach and on the way comes to a clearing in the forest. Yes, it is the same clearing we saw before, the one with the Lord of the Flies, now checking out Ralph "like one who knows all the answers and won't tell."

Ralph smashes the skull with his fists, bruising his knuckles in the process, but even afterwards still thinks the head is grinning (its smile is just wider now that it's been split open). He grabs the spear on which the head had been impaled and makes off. As night falls, Ralph goes back to Castle Rock to stare at the savages and Jack. He is completely isolated and lonely. He wonders if he can't just wander into the fort, as though it were a game, say "I've got pax" and laugh about it. After all, aren't these the same boys who said "Sir" and wore caps? Not so much. The tribeincluding Sam and Ericis dancing and chanting, "Kill the beast. Cut his throat! Spill his blood!" Ralph is at the end of his ropePiggy is dead, Samneric are savages. There is no signal fire. The conch is smashed to powder. The whole situation sucks unbelievably. Eventually, Ralph sneaks down and calls out softly to Sam and Eric. They come over, but they don't want tothey tell Ralph to go away. Ralph begins to say "If it were light" and the narration tells us that, if it were light, the boys would burn in shame. Sam and Eric say "they hurt us," and reveal that Jack is planning to hunt him (Ralph) tomorrow, starting early in the morning. And by hunt, they mean kill. Ralph begs them to come with him, but they are obviously too scared: Roger and the chief are both terrors, but Roger But Roger what? We don't find out, but we're guessing it's pretty bad. Also bad: Jack has sharpened a stick on both ends. Weird. Hearing footsteps approaching, Samneric quickly hand Ralph a hunk of meat and then run off. Ralph eats and falls asleep in the thicket near the camp, still wondering what this sharpened stick business means. (Do you get it? It means Ralph is going to get a little Lord of the Flies treatment himself.) When he wakes up, he realizes that Jack is just feet away, right outside the thicket where he's hiding. Ralph gets ready to fight, and sees the boys throwing great rocks ( la the killing-Piggy method) toward the dense thicket he's hiding in. The red rocks go past him and roll towards the sea. That doesn't work, so the boys try to smoke him out with a fire. Ralph worms his way back through the thicket (away from the smoke) and toward the forest. A small savage is waiting for him as he emerges, but the poor little guy is rubbing the smoke out of his eyes. No time for sympathy! Ralph stabs the little boy and runs away. Now what? Climb a tree? Just keep running? Sit down and cry? Piggy was the brains of this operation. Finally, Ralph decides to hide again, lunging into the deepest tangle of creepers he can find. As he lies there, he realizes the fire that the savages set to smoke him out has spread, once again much like wildfire. While under the vines, Ralph suddenly sees the legs of a savage moving toward him. The savage is holding a stick that is sharpened on both ends. Dun dun dun. Ralph tells himself not to scream and tries to hold stillwhen the savage's face peers underneath the vines. Ralph screams and plunges out, snarling and bloody. He swings at the savage until the guy falls, but there are others coming. He runs away as a spear flies past him. What follows is one of the best, heart-pounding chase scenes ever, as Ralph runs desperately through the forest, trying to evade the savages. He hears them all crashing through the underbrush as they give chase.

Ralph stumbles over a root and falls, just as he sees one of their shelters burst into flame. As he rolls down the hill, he realizes he's close to the water's edge. Well, this is it. Ralph covers himself with his arms and cries for mercy. When he finally opens his eyes and staggers to his feet, he's staring up at a white-topped cap with a gold anchor on the brim. Whoa! A naval officer! They're both pretty surprised to see each other. Behind him, Ralph can see a ship in the water, its "bows hauled up and held by two ratings." And, in the "stern-sheets another rating [holds] a sub-machine gun." The officer says "hello" and Ralph suddenly realizes how filthy he is. Any adults on the island? Nope. Just a semicircle of boys, their bodies "streaked with colored clay, sharp sticks in their hands." The officer assumes they've been playing a game and asks jokingly if anyone was killed. Ralph answers, "Only two" and makes it clear the bodies are gone. The officer finally catches on that he is serious and whistles softly. The whole island is "shuddering with flame," and other boys appear, coming out of the jungle, brown and with distended bellies. Little Percival comes runninghe tries to start his incantation (name and address, which comforted him so much before) but he can't remember it. The officer asks who's boss and Ralph says loudly, "I am." Jack starts to protest but thinks better of it. Remember how he was described as a freaky, painted idol? Now he's just "a little boy who wore the remains of a [] black cap on his red hair." Irony alert: instead of Ralph's precious signal fire, it is the smoke that Jack createdin an attempt to kill Ralphthat the rescuers saw. The adult gives them a little lecture, saying that a group of British boys should have put up a better show than this. Ralph tries to explain that it was good at first, and the officer nods, adding that it was "like the Coral Island," another book about boys stranded on an island. Now that he's finished running for his life, Ralph has time to think about what's happened. He begins to cry, sobbing for the first time about "the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy." The officer is a little embarrassed and turns away to give the boys time to pull themselves together, letting his eyes rest on the "trim cruiser in the distance." Oh, and that trim cruiser? It's involved in an equally violent and bloody warso maybe that officer shouldn't be giving anyone any lectures.

Lord of the Flies Theme of Primitivity

If well-brought-up British boys become violent savages when left without supervision, maybe people really are just violent savages, covered up in clothes and caps. Or maybe just some people are violent savages (*coughRogercough*). Either way, Lord of the Flies asks us whether that primitivism is inferioror if it's our natural and rightful state, and if it's not a little more honest than the clean, "trim" British navy, pretending to be all noble while fighting its own gruesome battles. It sounds like there's a little bit of the beast in all of us. Oh, and did you notice that "savage" is associated with coconuts and pig-killingi.e., the life of a Pacific Islander? Golding is a man of his time, which means he's pretty casual about the racism that elevates Anglo "civilized" superiority. Sure, he questions whether Westerners are really all that civilized, but he doesn't question whether "savages" are really all that savage. Just something to keep in mind.

Questions About Primitivity

1. How does Piggy justify or explain Simon's death? Does he end up convincing himself that he's not really responsible for it? 2. What is the most primitive, savage act committed in Lord of the Flies? What makes it so primitive or savage? (And doesn't it say something about the novel that this is a tough choice?) 3. Whose fault is it that Simon and Piggy are killed? Is there a difference here between being at fault and being responsible for it? 4. Who is the most savage character on the island? (Besides Roger.) Who is the most "civilized"? How do we know the difference? 5. Does Golding ever question what it means to be "civilized" and "savage," or is he pretty comfortable with the categories?

Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devils advocate. By having Ralph and Piggy help kill Simon, Golding suggests that we all have something primitive in us. In Lord of the Flies, "primitive" and "savage" are always associated with negative characteristics, and "civilization" and "Britain" are always associated with positive characteristics.

Lord of the Flies Theme of Civilization

If some adult has ever snapped at you to be "civilized," then you probably know that "civilized" ends up referring to all kinds of arbitrary things: get your elbows off the table; say "please" and "thank you"; don't chew with your mouth open; don't flick spitballs at your sister. You know. Being "civilized" usually means not doing what comes naturally. At least, that's how Lord of the Flies seems to see it. What comes naturally is running around slaughtering pigs in war paint; and what's civilized is having names, addresses, meetings, and elected leaders. But those arbitrary markings of civilization might be the only things that make life worth living.

Questions About Civilization

1. Are Ralph and Piggy the only defenders of civilization on the island? What does "civilization" mean to them? 2. Does Ralph end up giving up on civilization by the end? 3. What are the differences between "savagery" and civilization? And is "savagery" actually the opposite of civilization? If not, then what is?

Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devils advocate.

In Lord of the Flies, civilization is arbitrary but necessary; it's the only thing keeping us all from killing each other. Golding suggests that civilization is ultimately doomed to fail, because the beast in all of us will eventually break free.

Lord of the Flies Theme of Innocence

The boys of Lord of the Flies are stranded on the island at just the right age (between six and twelve, roughly) to drop the idealism of youth and face the real world. How convenient. And what better place to do so than an uninhabited island free of rules, restrictions, and adults? Their real world is less the soul-killing drudgery of a 9-5 job, property taxes, and a baby who won't sleep through the night than the savagery of untamed human naturebut it's a loss of innocence all the same, when we (and the kids) realize that there's nothing innocent about childhood, after all. The novel ends with its main character, Ralph, weeping for "the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart."

Questions About Innocence

1. At what point in the novel does Ralph start thinking that mankind is inherently evil? Do other characters come to the same conclusion? 2. Are the terms "mankind" and "man's heart" used interchangeably in this novel? What might be the difference between the two terms? 3. When Ralph talks about the "darkness of man's heart," is this a cop-out? Do you think it's easier for Ralph to think man is inherently evil than realize that all the boys, including Ralph, have chosen to be violent and hurtful? 4. Is Golding suggesting that children aren't actually innocent?

Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devils advocate. In Lord of the Flies, Simon is the only truly innocent characterwhich is why he's mercilessly slaughtered. The children become savage and animalistic over the course of the novel, but they're not actually evil. In fact, the more animalistic they become, the more innocent they are: like animals, they simply don't know better.

Lord of the Flies Theme of Rules and Order

Be honest. If you woke up tomorrow and every adult on the planet had vanished, what would you do? (For the adults out there: what if you woke up and every police officer and credit rating bureau on the planet had vanished?) Would you dutifully get out of bed, brush your teeth, and head to school to try to organize the remaining kids into a democratic society? Or would you turn on the TV, break out the Hot Cheetos, and have a Halo marathon (assuming the power grid was still working)?

Yeah, we thought so. Cheetle isn't exactly war paint, but Golding's point holds: humans are basically corrupt and inherently evil. Rules and order keep people from their true, violent natures. Lord of the Flies tells us that, as soon as you put people outside of a system with punishments and consequences, they'll get busy destroying themselves. Rules may seem pointless, but they're the only things keeping us alive.

Questions About Rules and Order

1. Ralph's attempted system of law lasts about five minutes before breaking down. Does Jack take over with anarchy, or with his own system of laws? Is anarchy really just another system, no different than any other arbitrary set of values? 2. What makes the system of laws disintegrate on the island? Whose fault is it? 3. Sam and Eric teeter between Ralph's orderly camp and Jack's rebellious one. Are they good, lawabiding guys, or do they just end up being bad guys? 4. Are there any "good guys" on the island? Or are there really any "bad guys?" Is there such thing as good vs. bad at all? Or are there just humans, and that's how we are, and we should all stop passing judgment?

Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devils advocate. In Lord of the Flies, rules and order are only as powerful as people agree they are. Golding suggests that rules and order are the only thing keeping civilization from breaking down.

Lord of the Flies Theme of Fear

In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, new president of the United States, said that the "only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Okay, it's a little more eloquent than Piggy's "I know there isn't no fear," but the point is basically the same: the most dangerous thing on this planet is probably fear, especially fear of the unknown. (Need us to be a little more literal? The Cold War was a war of fear: each side was so afraid of the other starting nuclear war that they built up their nuclear capacity, until the entire world could have been blown away if someone's trigger finger had just jerked.) The boys in Lord of the Flies might be afraid of the beast, but that fear turns out to be more dangerous than any beast could possibly be. What they don't know is that they should really be afraid of each otherand of themselves.

Questions About Fear

1. What is "the unknown" in Lord of the Flies? Are there any "knowns" that the boys fearlike starving, or never being rescued? 2. What is Simon afraid of? 3. What do the littluns really fear when they talk about the beast? At what point in the novel do the boys fully accept the reality of the beast, and what is the catalyst?

Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devils advocate. Golding suggests that fearof either the known or the unknownis the most destructive human emotion. In Lord of the Flies, fear becomes paralyzing and unbeatable when the boys realize that there's nothing to be afraid of except fear.

Lord of the Flies Theme of Power

Congratulations! You've just been elected student body president. What's your first movegetting the mystery meat out of the school lunches, or staking your claim to the best parking spot? In Lord of the Flies, we learn that absolute power corrupts absolutelybut limited power might end up making leaders better. This is the difference between Ralph, who gets more mature in his role as chief, and Jack, who getssavage. Let's make this really basic: if Ralph represents a democratic society ruled by power for the sake of law and order, then Jack represents an autocratic society governed by power for the sake of power. In Lord of the Flies, the desire for power breaks the boys' fragile civilization, causes strife and competition, and ends up destroying the pristine jungle.

Questions About Power

1. Why do the boys follow Jack's lead more readily than they do Ralph's? How are Jack's power tactics different than Ralph's? 2. What's the point of having power on a deserted island, anyway? For Ralph? For Jack? For Roger? 3. Ralph seems to realize that with great power comes great responsibility. Does this mean that Jack, by not taking real responsibility, isn't actually chief?

Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devils advocate. Lord of the Flies suggests that brute force is the worst type of power. In Lord of the Flies, the desire for power disintegrates the boys' group.

Lord of the Flies Theme of Identity

Halloween is a lot tamer than it was when people dressed up to scare away ghosts, but the idea is the same: disguising yourself lets you get away with things that you can't do in your Levis and American Apparel hoody. The boys in Lord of the Flies aren't dressing up as sexy Freddy Krueger, but they're still disguising themselves. They begin painting their faces with clay so the pigs won't see them, but the paint quickly becomes a way for them to feel better about their atrocious acts. With the

paint on, they no longer have names or identities of their own; they're nameless creatures that kill and murder without consequence. Without a "self" to control, there's no need to control themselves.

Questions About Identity

1. What does the face-painting have to do with the boys becoming more violent? Does it happen before or after the boys start to become more "savage" and "primitive"? 2. Are the boys reverting to their true identities on the island, or leaving their true identities behind as they become more primitive? 3. How does Simon identify the pig's head? What does he mean when he thinks that the head is "the Lord of the Flies?" Does he even know?

Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devils advocate. Without the masks that Jack and his hunters painted on their faces, Jack would have never attained his position of power on the island. Ralph combats his fear by dehumanizing the boys in his mind.

Lord of the Flies Theme of Religion

Lord of the Flies can be read, at least in part, as a religious allegory. It features the character Simon as a Christ-figure who is killed by the other boys. Following this train of thought, the island can be seen as the Garden of Eden, before it was corrupted by mankind and his evil activities (as represented by the beast) (the snake-thing). On a less complex level, there are many generally religious or superstitious images in the novel: Jack as the god, garlanded and sitting on a log as he presides over his feast, the name the Lord of the Flies, the rituals that the boys engage in as they replay the pig hunts over and over, and the sacrifice that they leave for the beast. The pig head, impaled on a stake, seems to be a kind of god itself. Scholars disagree as to whether the novel argues for Christianity and civilization, in opposition to primitive rituals, or whether Lord of the Flies criticizes any kind of religion, organized or no.

Questions About Religion

1. If Simon can be seen as a Christ-figure in Lord of the Flies, what Biblical characters might Ralph and Jack be compared to? 2. What is the difference between religion and superstition in Lord of the Flies? 3. Is Simon aware of all the religious symbolism that we claim hes associated with?

Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devils advocate.

The pig hunts that the boys perform in Lord of the Flies are presented as religious ritual; in this way, Golding critiques organized religion.

Lord of the Flies Theme of Wisdom and Knowledge

Knowledge in Lord of the Flies is more about awareness and wisdom than anything else. There are certain important truths that some characters are privy to and others are not. The characters that are in the know seem to have possession of these truths innately, as though by some spiritual means. The boys left in the dark are simply at odds with their more savvy counterparts; they fail to understand these wiser children (like Simon) and instead of trying to learn from them, violently lash out at them. It seems, then, that the wisest boys are sacrificed, made martyrs for the very key knowledge they possess. The irony is that, by killing these knowing boys, the nave characters are keeping themselves in the dark.

Questions About Wisdom and Knowledge

1. Whos the most intelligent boy on the island? Who is the wisest? Whats the difference? 2. How do the boys feel about Simon? Are they fearful? Confused? Intimidated? 3. What do the boys learn during their island getaway?

Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devils advocate. In Lord of the Flies, ignorance always brings destruction. In Lord of the Flies, knowledge always brings destruction.

Lord of the Flies Theme of Youth

The island is strictly pre-teen, with no messy hormones to make things even worse. Maybe some of the boys have peach fuzzwe bet Jack doesbut in general, these are little boys playing little boy games. Only the games aren't so innocent. Lord of the Flies asks a crucial question: are kids really innocent, or do even six-year-olds have the beast inside? On the one hand, it's hard to saywe only get to know the biguns, so it's possible that the six-year-olds are still innocent. On the other hand, everyone eats the pig, and everyone helps kill Simon. It's not looking good for human nature.

Questions About Youth

1. Are the children innocent? Are they corrupted by the island and their situation, or do they bring their own darkness? 2. Has Ralph grown up by the end of the novel? Or does weeping show that he's still a child? 3. Which characters act the most like adults? What does "adulthood" seem to mean?

Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devils advocate. In Lord of the Flies, children are just as savage and bestial as adults. Golding suggests that very young children are still innocent, until society and civilization corrupt them.

Lord of the Flies Theme Quotes

Primitivity Quotes
The ground was hardened by an accustomed tread and as Jack rose to his full height he heard something moving on it. He swung back his right arm and hurled the spear with all his strength. (3.5)

Civilization Quotes
Ralph and Jack looked at each other while society paused about them. The shameful knowledge grew in them and they did not know how to begin confession.Ralph spoke first, crimson in the face."Will y...

Innocence Quotes
"You got your small fire all right." [] the boys were falling still and silent, feeling the beginnings of awe at the power set free below them. (2.210)

Rules and Order Quotes

Wheres the man with the megaphone? The fair boy shook his head. This is an island. At least I think its an island. Thats a reef out in the sea. Perhaps the...

Fear Quotes
The ground beneath them was a bank covered with sparse grass, torn everywhere by the upheavals of fallen trees, scattered with decaying coconuts and palm saplings. Behind this was the darkness of t...

Power Quotes

"Shut up," said Ralph absently. He lifted the conch. "Seems to me we ought to have a chief to decide things.""A chief! A chief!""I ought to be chief," said Jack with simple arrogance, "because I'm...

Identity Quotes
"I don't care what they call me," he said confidentially, "so long as they don't call me what they used to call me in school." Ralph was faintly interested. "What was that?" The fat boy glanced ove...

Religion Quotes
He [Jack] began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling. (4.33)

Wisdom and Knowledge Quotes

[Ralph] [] looked at the water with bright, excited eyes. (1.54)

Youth Quotes
"Where's the man with the megaphone?"The fair boy shook his head."This is an island. At least I think it's an island. That's a reef out in the sea. Perhaps there aren't any grownups anywhere." (1.9...

Character Analysis Ralph is like the school president, football quarterback, and prom king all rolled into one, 12-year-old package. (We're thinking a youngLeonardo Dicaprio.) He's the first lost boy we meet, and he's definitelythe bestafter all, he's elected chief. But what makes him chief-worthy?

Golden Boy
Mostly, his all-Americanwe mean, all-Britishgood looks. He's "fair" (1.1) and "attractive." More than that, he has the conch. And he can blow it. Because the conch symbolizes power and order (see "Symbols" for more about that), Ralph gets a head start in the island power structure. But he also knows what that power's for. Instead of getting caught up in the hunting bloodlust, he proposes something practical, sensible, andwe'll say itBritish: start a fire, and then watch it to make sure it doesn't go out. He's got nerve, too. When someone has to go look for the "beast," Ralph appoints himself. When he's scared, he "[binds] himself together with his will" (7.246),

meaning that he's able to force himself to do something he really, really doesn't want to do for the good of the group.

Maybe He's Born With It

So, here's our question: is Ralph innately a good leader, or is he only a good leader as long as everyone agrees to live by "civilized" rules? Unfortunately for Ralph, it looks like his power depends on civilization. Check out how he approaches his office: "He lifted the conch. 'Seems to me we ought to have a chief to decide things' (1.228). A chief, to Ralph, is a sort of first-among-equals deal, someone who's elected to keep things in order. As he thinks, "if you [are] a chief, you [have] to think, you [have] to be wise [] you [have] to grab at a decision" (5.10). See that word "decide" used twice? For Ralph, chiefdom is aboutleading people. It's not about personal power or triumph; it's about making sure the group is taken care of, which means making sure the little ones get looked after, keeping people from pooping where they eat (literally), and getting that darn fire lit. But is Ralph innately good? Maybe. He doesn't throw rocks at any little boys; he doesn't paint his face all crazy, and he insists that "this is a good island" (2). At the same time, our little golden boy isn't exactly innocent.

Decline and Fall

One of Ralph's first actions is taking off his clothes. Believe us when we say that stripping is never a good sign: it's the first step to becoming a lawless savage. Here's how it goes down: He [Ralph] jumped down from the terrace. The sand was thick over his black shoes and the heat hit him. He became conscious of the weight of clothes, kicked his shoes off fiercely and ripped off each stocking with its elastic garter in a single movement. Then he leapt back on the terrace, pulled off his shirt, and stood there among the skull-like coconuts with green shadows from the palms and forest sliding over his skin. He undid the snake-clasp of his belt, lugged off his shorts and pants, and stood there naked, looking at the dazzling beach and the water. (1.53) Sure, this is probably a more sensible way to run around a deserted island than in black shoes and garters. But it's also a sign that, underneath his school uniform, Ralph is just as much a little savage as any of the other boys. We get a hint of this even earlier, when he "shriek[s] with laughter" about Piggy's name (1): Ralph may be a good kid, but he's still a kid. And when it comes to hunting, Ralph starts to seem even more sinister. The first time he wounds a pig, he talks "excitedly" and thinks that maybe "hunting was good after all" (7). And then, when the party at Jack's starts to heat up, they find themselves "eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society" (9)which pretty soon turns into the brutal murder of Simon. No matter how much Ralph tries to convince himself that "we left early" (10), it's not true: he helped kill Simon. The beast lives in him, too.

Come to think of it, that just might be what saves him. At the end, he's all animal: he "launched himself like a cat; stabbed, snarling, with the spear, and the savage doubled up" (12.165), keeping himself alive long enough to roll away from Jack's band and end up at the feet of the naval officer safe. For now.

We don't know what Ralph is going to be like now that he's back home, but we get the feeling he might be different. All that British order that he relied on? Now he knows that it's nothing more than a thin coating of civilization. Give him a sharpened stick and a pig carcass, and he's going to be ripping at the flesh with everyone else. His first big philosophical moment comes during a late afternoon assembly, when the light makes everything look different. To Ralph, that means they are different: "If faces [are] different when lit from above or belowwhat is a face? What is anything?" (5.9) To translate: the island makes people lose their meaning. When the boys paint themselves and act like "savages," he decides they're completely different beings than the British boys who came to the island. To Ralph, this break in logic is a way of coping, a way of dealing with the horrors of his circumstances. But is he right? Check out the way he gradually deteriorates over the course of the novel. As order and rules go by the wayside, so does the order within Ralph's own head. He can remember that he wants a signal fire, but he can't remember why. He knows it's something to do with smoke, but then he can't put two and two together. Piggy has to help him out repeatedly, and the gap in Ralph's train of thoughts worsens as the novel progresses. When they confront Jack and the "savages," Piggy has to remind him: "remember what we came for. The fire. My specs" (11.159). Ralph remembersbut barely. And that just might make Ralph our tragic figure. Sure, Piggy and Simon both die. But Ralph is the one who has to go back to civilization with the knowledge that, underneath his schoolboy uniform, he's nothing more than a lawless, orderless savage.

Character Analysis For Jack, the island is like the best summer vacation ever. He gets to swear, play war games, hunt things, and paint his faceall without any grownups around to send him to his room for accidentally killing the neighbors. Like Ralph, Jack is charismatic and inclined to leadership. Unlike Ralph, he gets off on power and abuses his position above othersso, he's basically an '80s teen villain, without good hair and daddy's credit card. Let's see how he transforms from arrogant choir boy into painted savage.

Not-So-Golden Boy
Jack is ugly. Well, according the narrator he is: he's "tall, thin, and bony: and his hair was red beneath the black cap. His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of this face stared two light blue eyes, frustrated now, and turning, or ready to turn, to anger" (1). We've just met him, and we're already getting a bad feeling. Where Ralph is described as "fair" and "attractive," Jack is freckled and redheaded. (Duh, everyone knows redheads are evil.) And check out those angry eyes. It's no surprise that Jack can't wait to pick up a spear. Ralph is elected leader because he's cute and seems pretty mature, and he's our protagonist for pretty much the same reasons (check out "Character Roles" for more on this). But Jack doesn't get it. He thinks that he deserves to be chief because he's "chapter chorister and head boy. [He] can sing C sharp" (1.228-30)in other words, for no good reason at all. He should be leader because he's always been leader in the past, even though that leadership was based on something completely unrelated to his ability to govern: a nice singing voice. The problem with this kind of social structure is that it's not based on anything real. At first, Jack seems ready to help Ralph establish order: "We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages. We're English, and the English are best at everything" (2.192). That doesn't exactly sound like a kid who's five seconds away from slaughtering a wild pig and painting himself with its blood, right? But saying "we have to have rules because we're English and awesome" is, when you think about it, identical to saying "I should be leader because I can sing C sharp." It's meaningless. It's jingoistic. And it disguises the fact that Jack is actually a pretty scary dude. As soon as there's no civilization to keep him in line, heunlike Ralphfalls out of line. Majorly.

Power Corrupts
Jack's litany of evil is pretty impressive. He leads the brutal slaughter of a pigand then Simon. He fosters rebellion. He has his minions beat a kid named Wilfred for some unspecified misdeed. He throws a spear at Ralph with "full intention" (11), trying to kill him, and then sends the minions after him to finish the job. But he couldn't do any of this without power. And somehow, he gets it. When he leaves Ralph's group, he convinces the others to come with him by promising a hunt. The pre-teen boys aren't interested in Ralph's boy-scout team-building and fire-watching. They want blood. And once Jack gets control, he turns from a choir boy into a, well, this: A great log had been dragged into the center of the lawn and Jack, painted and garlanded, sat there like an idol

Power lay in the brown swell of his forearms: authority sat on his shoulder and chattered in his ear like an ape. "All sit down." The boys ranged themselves in rows on the grass before him but Ralph and Piggy stayed a foot lower, standing on the soft sand. Jack ignored them for the moment, turned his mask down to the seated boys and pointed at them with his spear. (9.37, 52-56) Jack is an "idol" with an "ape" sitting on his shoulder; he's no longer a little boy. He's a "chief," and not only the boys but the narrator actually calls him "the chief": "the chief was sitting there, naked to the waist, his face blocked out in white and red" (10). Jack? There is no Jack by this point. "Jack" is a just a name covering up the ugly, primitive core beneath the British choir boy exterior. When Jack picks up a spear and then walks out on Ralph's pitiful attempt to impose order, he's not a boy anymore: he's a savage. (And if you're thinking that this all sounds a little racistwe think you're right. Check out our "Primitivity" theme for some thoughts on that.)

Kid Stuff
By the end of the book, Jack has become a subhuman terror, inspiring panic in Ralph and awe in the rest of the boys. Or has he? Throughout the whole story, we get little hints that this might be nothing more than a game gone wrong. When Jack leaves Ralph's group, check how he does it: His voice trailed off. The hands that held the conch shook. He cleared his throat, and spoke loudly. "All right then." He laid the conch with great care in the grass at his feet. The humiliating tears were running from the corner of each eye. "I'm not going to play any longer. Not with you." (8.67-75) Does this sound like a savage psychopath in the making, or does it sound like a little boy who's mad that things aren't fair? What's cool about this moment is that Golding mostly keeps us in the boys' viewpoint, and particularly Ralph's. When they're scared, we're scared; when they're having a fun pig-killing orgy, we're having a fun pig-killing orgy. But occasionally he drop in moments like this, where we see the boys in a new wayas kids playing a game gone horribly wrong. At the end, we see things from the naval officer's perspective. He asks who's in charge (assuming very Britishly that someone is), and Ralph steps up. Keep in mind that being in charge also means

taking some sort of responsibility for, oh, the two gruesome murders. Maybe that's why Jack ends up hanging back: A little boy who wore the remains of an extraordinary black cap on his red hair and who carried the remains of a pair of spectacles at his waist, started forward, then changed his mind and stood still. (12) To the boys, Jack is a powerful, savage chief. To the officer (and to us), he's just a "little boy" wearing goofy clothes. Golding leaves us with a question: what is Jack, really? Is he a heartless savage, or is he just a little British boy playing a game?

Character Analysis The first time we see Simon, he's fainting, and things go downhill from there. From passing out to throwing up to hallucinating to getting bloody noses, Simon is a walking mess. But he's anything but weak.

Power in All the Wrong Places

Simon may be a little timid, but he's a compassionate guy. A "skinny, vivid boy" (1.267), Simon's innate goodness comes out in his actions. He recovers Piggy's glasses when they fly off his face (post-Jack's punch), he gives Piggy his own share of meat, and he helps the littluns pick fruit: "found for them the fruit they could not reach, pulled off the choicest from up in the foliage, passed them back down to the endless, outstretched hands (3.138). And, of course, he doesn't turn into a primitive savage and go around killing things. He's also wise, mature, and insightful to the point of being prophetic. He's the only one (except Piggy) who understands the beast: Simon, walking in front of Ralph, felt a flicker of incredulitya beast with claws that scratched, that sat on a mountain-top, that left no tracks and yet was not fast enough to catch Samneric. However Simon thought of the beast, there rose before his inward sight the picture of a human, at once heroic and sick. (6.140) Simon, from his little leafy meditation cave, gets it: the island is changing them. Being afraid of the beast turns them into beasts. If you're having trouble understanding this, let's literalize it for you: he's basically saying that being afraid of an enemy makes you do such horrific things that you turn into the enemy yourself. And by "you," we mean "nations" and "governments." Sound familiar? It should. It's the same kind of argument that some people make today about the War on Terror.

Pig on a Stick

But Simon's freaky wisdom doesn't mean he's immune to the island's effects. Hallucinating and probably dehydrated (that "swollen tongue" is a good giveaway [8.327]), he imagineswe thinkthe severed pig's head talking to him. And that means Simon is even wiser than we thought, because all of the head's lines are actually his own, like this: "Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt or kill! You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close. I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?" (8.337) Simon is the only boy to truly grasp that "the beast" is just all the negative, horrible aspects of mankind. And his "I'm the reason why it's no go" is a direct answer to the question Piggy posed several pages earlier: "What makes things break up the way they do?" (8.265). Simondoes have all the answersbut no one's listening. Of course, there's also the remote possibility that the talking pig's head isn't a mere hallucination it's the actual Lord of the Flies, Beelzebub the Devil, evil incarnate, talking to Simon via a severed noggin. If this is true, Simon loses points for not coming up with the intelligent insights on his own. On the other hand, he gains quite a few points back for being like Jesus.

Christ Figure
Yep, we've got a Christ-figure on our hands. To start with, his name is Simon, which happens to be the name of one of the twelve apostles. Simon started out as Simon until Jesus decided really his name should be "Peter" instead, because "peter" means rockand Simon was the "rock" on which Jesus would build his church. If you glance at our "Nutshell," you'll notice that Lord of the Flies is a response to an earlier and much more cheerful boys-on-a-desert-island book, The Coral Island. Golding even borrowed the names Ralph, Jack, and Peterkin. Except "Peterkin" ended up as "Simon." And then there's Simon's affinity for meditation, his kindred spirit-ness with animals, his "suffer the little children unto me" attitude (think about the fruit-picking), and his ability to prophesize, like when he tells Ralph that Ralph will get home, and sort of suggests that he himself won't. Having established that, we can go back to our pig's-head-on-a stick scene and compare it to Jesus's visit to the Garden of Gethsemene the night before he was crucified. And when we say "visit," what we really mean is long and solitary mental suffering, much like Simon undergoes the night before he meets his own untimely death. Simon, like Jesus, is "thirsty," and later "very thirsty," and although the text doesn't say it, we can only assume that at one point later he is very, very thirsty. He's also sweating, having a seizure, and bleeding profusely from his nose. So, if Simon's "night before" matches up with Jesus's "night before," then does Simon die for the sins of the boys? Are they somehow saved by his death? It's hard to say. But it does seem meaningful that he alone had the knowledge of the beast's true nature, he alone had the potential to save the boys from themselves and their fear, and they basically kill him for trying to spread the good news.

The tragic part (well, the especially tragic part) is that Simon says the beast is "only us" and then gets pegged as the beast himselfeven though he's the least beast-like of any of the boys. The question is whether, like Jesus, being non-beasty makes him more or less human.

Character Analysis Piggy starts off as the group's outcast and ends up smashed to an untimely death by a large rock. But what happens along the way of this tragic character arc?

Piggy is one of the first characters we meet (as "the fat boy"), so we're predisposed to like him, even if nobody else does. Ralph may find the conch, but Piggy is the one who identifies it and tells Ralph how to use itbut doesn't use it himself. He may know what to do (blow into the shell), but he's too weak physically (because of his asthma) to do it. And that's Piggy: intellectual superiority, physical inferiority. He's also the closest thing we have to an adult on the island, defending the conch and insisting on rules and order. He makes a big deal about learning names, "frowning to remember them" (1.179): he sees each boy as a fellow human being, and wants to give him the right and privilege of being called by his proper name. Having names matters to Piggy, because, just like the conch, it represents a system of rules and order. It's not that Piggy benefits from his interest in names. No one calls Piggy by his rightful name (we never even learn it). But the conch doesbenefit him. Without rules and order, people like Piggy get squashedliterally. With the conch, everyone gets a fair chance. If he's holding the conch, it doesn't matter if he's fat and unathletic. His voice matters just as much as anyone else's. That's probably why he defends it even when he and Ralph are being attacked by Jack's gang, holding it up and demanding, "Which is betterto have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?" (1).

Four Eyes
It's too bad for the boys that they don't listen, since Piggy has some pretty good ideaslike that the beast isn't real. He believes in science, saying "Life [] is scientific, that's what it is. In a year or two when the world is over they'll be traveling to Mars and back" (5.99). So, naturally he wears glasses. We see more than once that "Piggy's glasses flashed" (1, 4) as if they're an essential part of himwhich they are. And this integral part of a character whose focus is science and technology, is used for the purposes ofscience and technology. While the boys revert to their primitive and animal ways, the glasses become a symbol of the opposite sort of transformation: advancement, discovery, innovation. After all, without his glasses, the boys never would have been able to start a fire. (Check out "Symbols" for more thoughts on Piggy's glasses.)

Thanks to Piggy, we get the sense that, while Golding doesn't think civilization is quite all it's cracked up to be, it's probably still better than running around with painted faces slaughtering pigs.

This Little Piggy Went to Market

Speaking of slaughtering pigs: toward the end of the novel, when things are getting real for our intrepid band of pre-teens, Roger sees Piggy as a "bag of fat" (11.198). Sound familiar? Only a few chapters earlier, the pigs are referred to as "bloated bags of fat" (8). Does this make you think? It sure made us thinkabout how Piggy's name is, well, "Piggy," and about how the boys went gradually from killing PIGS to killing PIGGY. (Then we abused the use of capital letters to get our point across.) Piggy's death shows us just how bad things have gottenthat it's a slippery, slidey, downward slope of atrocity from taking off your choir robe to mercilessly killing two of your peers. And note that, when Piggy dies, the conch dies with him, "[exploding] into a thousand white fragments" (11.209). Now there are really no grownups.

Character Analysis Roger is totally that kid on the playground who used to torture ants with a magnifying glass. He's bad news going all the way back to when we first meet him, a "slight" and "furtive" boy with "an inner intensity of avoidance and secrecy" who "mutters" (1). Let's just say, you do notwant to be stuck on a deserted island with Roger, because this guy is sadistic, plain and simple. While Jack wants power because he likes the thought of being in charge, Roger wants power because he likes the idea of hurting others. Even before things have started to go too wrong, we can tell. He and his buddy Maurice destroy the littluns' sandcastles for no reason at all, "kicking them over, burying the flowers, scattering the chosen stones. Maurice followed, laughing, and added to the destruction" (4.7-8). This goes way beyond not helping the kids pick fruit to straight up psycho behavior. Roger doesn't become a murderous psychopath all at once. At first, he's held back by the "taboo of the old life" (4.14). While he throws rocks in little Henry's general direction, he doesn't actually throw themat the kid: "round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law" (4.14). For now. By the end, Roger has given in. He's the one who, with "delirious abandonment," drops the rock that kills Piggy. Not convinced that Roger is bad news? Sam and Eric hint at unspeakableliterallyhorrors, when they say: of Sam and Eric's exchange: "You don't know Roger. He's a terror."

"And the chiefthey're both" "terrors" "only Roger" (11) Only Roger what? We don't know, and we're not sure we want to. Is Golding saying that even beasts come in degreesthat some people are worse than others, even if we're all savages? Or is he saying the opposite? Could it be that Roger is actually the most human of them all?

Sam and Eric

Character Analysis Piggy tries, but even he can't manage to keep Sam and Eric straight: "Which is Eric-? You? No you're Sam" (1). For most of the novel, the boys are simply "Samneric." (Is anyone surprised that Jack is the first one to use a nickname that takes away someone else's individuality?) Like Piggy and Ralph, Sam and Eric try to hold out against savagery. Surrounded by Jack's gang, they protest "out of the heart of civilization. "Oh, I say!" "Honestly!" (11.175). And, sure, they participate in the Simon-slaughter, but they try really hard to convince themselves that they didn't: The twins were very surprised to see Ralph. They flushed and looked past him into the air. "Hullo. Fancy meeting you, Ralph." "We just been in the forest" "-to get wood for the fire-" "-we got lost last night." [] Sam touched a scratch on his forehead and then hurriedly took his hand away. Eric fingered his split lip. "Yes. We were very tired," repeated Sam, "so we left early." (10) Yeah, just keep telling yourself that, guys: the split lip and scratch are dead giveaways. The thing is, Samneric might be the closest thing to us. They're not leaders like Ralph; they're not brains, like Piggy; they're just ordinary people, who want to be good but aren't strong enough to resist being caught up in the evil.

Brother vs. Brother

When Ralph's group is holed up in Chapter 10, Sam and Eric start fighting. It's not clear what they're fighting about, but it's part of the general hopelessness. "What's the good?," both of them ask. And then "from the darkness of the further end of the shelter came a dreadful moaning and they shattered the leaves in their fear. Sam and Eric, locked in an embrace, were fighting each other" (10.) This is bad. If brother is turning against brother, then everyone's in real trouble. Piggy gets it. Right after they stop fighting, he whispers to Ralph, "We got to get out of this." If Samneric are fighting and check out how Golding uses "Sam and Eric" instead of "Samneric," to show just how bad it is then there's really no hope for the rest of them. And if Samneric are stand-ins for us readers, then maybe Golding is telling us that war is a really, really bad sign: at its root, all human violence is brother against brother.

Character Analysis Poor Percival. We first hear about him when we learn that the littluns are not so much taken care of as downright neglected by the older boys. Percival can't handle it. He crawls into a shelter and "stay[s] there for two days, talking, singing, and crying, till they thought him batty and were faintly amused. Ever since then he had been peaked, red-eyed, and miserable; a littleun who played and cried often" (4.3). The only thing Percival has is his name and address: "Percival Wemys Madison, of the Vicarage, Harcourt St. Anthony" (5, 12), which he repeats like an "incantation." Unfortunately, this "incantation" is "powerless to help" poor little Percival. The safety nets of normal civilization are completely and utterly useless here on the island. And by the time Percival meets someone who might actually helpthe naval officerhe's totally forgotten it. Even weepy little Percival has been transformed by his island adventures. When Ralph weeps for the loss of innocence and the darkness of man's hearthe's weeping for Percival.

What's In a Name
One thing about his name. "Percival" is the name of one of King Arthur's knights. In most of the stories, he's innocent and naveso innocent that he gets to complete the quest for the Holy Grail. Can we make that association here, and say that Golding is drawing on the name Percival to make our littlun seem especially innocent and harmless? To heighten the tragic loss of innocence? We wouldn't put it past him.

Lord of the Flies Analysis

Literary Devices in Lord of the Flies

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Before we get down to the details, we should address the fact that Lord of the Flies is one big allegory. Symbols aside, the boys as a whole can represent humanity as a whole. You can see where the...

Lord of the Flies takes place on an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean, at an unknownbut probably 1950ishyear during a fictional atomic war. And what an island it is. We don't find out m...

Narrator Point of View

The narrator in Lord of the Flies moves back and forth omnisciently between different scenes and thoughts. Take Chapter Eight, for example, where in the space of a few pages we get Jack hunting, "h...

This isn't Gilligan's Island. It's not even Lost. Jack's wildly superstitious and violent group of boys, who are willing to kill one of their own with their hands and teeth, is as far from ideal, o...

If you like your medicine with a spoonful of sugar, you'd better find another book. (Unless this is required reading, in which casewe're sorry.) Golding takes a look at the worst, darkest side o...

Writing Style
Much like the forbidding patch of jungle in which the book takes place (for more on that, see "Setting") the Lord of the Flies is ominousbut irresistible. Let's check out the paragraph where we...

Whats Up With the Title?

Let's get the easy part out of the way first: "the Lord of the Flies" is what Simon ends up calling the severed pig's headpresumably because it's covered in flies. So, calling the book Lord of t...

What's Up With the Ending?

The end happens fast: Ralph is pretty convinced he's about to die, when all of a sudden he rolls (literally) into a British naval officer who promises to rescue them. When we meet the officer, we g...

Lord of the Flies is a standard on the middle school required reading list, but that doesn't mean it's kid stuff. Check out this passage:A thin wail out of the darkness chilled them and set them gr...

Plot Analysis
Home AloneWe start out post plane crash, on an island full of boys ranging from ages 6 to 12, and not an adult in sight.This is going to end well. Well, they start with a good faith effort: Ralph a...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Crash and BurnWhen their plane crashes, the boys who were on board find themselves on a strange island where they have never been before. Needless to say, this is a new situation for them. They're...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Community OrganizerThe boys arrive on the island, realize that no adults are present, and start organizing. Ralph is elected chief, but Jack takes over the group of hunters. The seeds of conflict a...

Something around twenty publishers rejected Lord of the Flies.William Golding was knighted in 1988. Make that Sir William Golding. Rock Band Iron Maiden wrote a song called "Lord of the Flies." And...

Steaminess Rating
Lord of the Flies is about a bunch of pre-adolescent boys, so, nope: no sex here, although there is extensive nudity and a few poop jokes. We would, however, like to draw your attention to a highly...


The names "Ralph," "Jack," and "Simon": R.M. Ballantyne: The Coral Island. The Coral Island was a classic 1857 "Europe can better the world through conquering it and forcing Christianity upon every...

Lord of the Flies Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory

Sometimes, theres more to Lit than meets the eye.

The Conch
Piggy and Ralph spot a conch and decide to use it to call a meeting. All right! Island society is off to a good start. The boys impose a "rule of the conch" on themselves, deciding that no one can...

The Fire
From the very beginning of the novel, Ralph is determined to keep a signal fire going, in case a ship passes near to the island. That's all well and good, until the first signal fire the boys light...

The Glasses
While the boys on the island are busy stripping naked to hunt pigs with sharpened sticks, there's still one symbol of advancement, innovation, and discovery: Piggy's glasses. On the one hand, the g...

The Pighunts
We'll let Golding start us off:Here, struck down by the heat, the sow fell and the hunters hurled themselves at her. This dreadful eruption from an unknown world made her frantic; she squealed and...

Ralph's Hair
We know the hair has to be a big deal, because the very first words of the novel are, "The boy with fair hair lowered himself down" (1.1). And it just keeps growing. Here's a small sampling of what...

Clothing is another relic of the old world that falls by the wayside in this new one. Clothes can be ominous, as when Jack and his choir boys appear to be one long, dark creature as they travel in...

The Lord of the Flies could be read as one big allegorical story. An allegory is a story with a symbolic level of meaning, where the characters and setting represent, well, other things, like polit...

The Beast
The beast is easy enough: it represents evil and darkness. But does it represent internal darkness, the evil in all of our hearts, even golden boys like Ralph? Or does it represent an external sava...

Body Paint
There's a reason (some) women put on more makeup when they're going on a job interview or a first dateand those neat-looking black stripes under football players' eyes are more effective at look...

From the moment the boys land on the island, we begin to see signs of destruction. Over and over we are told of the "scar" that the plane leaves in the greenery (1.3). The water they bathe in is "w...

Lord of the Flies Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - theres not just one right answer. 1. Why does Golding end Lord of the Flies with the rescue of the boys? Does this ending change the realistic nature of the novel? 2. Check out the scene where we meet all the boys in Chapter One. How do the various introductions of each character set up the story that follows? Are there any big surprises? 3. Do the chapter titles do anything for you? 4. How could this novel be described as an allegory? If it is an allegory, what message does Golding seem to want to get across to his readers? What allegorical roles are the characters playing? 5. What is the role of religion in the lives of the boys? Is their religion based on Christianity, or does it seem more pagan? 6. Lord of the Flies was published in 1954, although it is set in some fictional future. In what ways does its message seem to speak to the violence that is present in 1954? What about violence today? 7. Only one female voice is presented (very briefly, and in recap) in this novel, that of Piggy's aunt. Would this story have been different in any important ways if there had been both boys and girls on the island? In other words, is this a story about the capacity of humans for violence, or is it a story about the male capacity for violence? Or is there simply not enough evidence to make an argument either way? 8. Similarlywhy does it matter that these are kids? Would adults in the same situation act any differently? 9. How are the characters in Lord of the Flies presented as both "heroic and sick" (6)? As both sane and insane? As both good and evil?

10. What role does fear play in Lord of the Flies? How does fear affect the boys as the story progresses?

Centres d'intérêt liés