Lord of the Flies. Chapters 1-5 http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides2/Golding.html#Lord. Chapter 1.
British schoolboys ages 5 to 12 survive a plane crash on a small coral island in the South Pacific during a world war. There are no adult survivors. The boys are intelligent, well-to-do children–the sons of aristocratic families that run society and government–who had been evacuated from a battle zone.
Under a hot sun, two older boys–one fat and clumsy and the other handsome and athletic–are on a beach getting acquainted as they discuss their plight. They are uncertain whether there are other survivors. The fat boy confides that his school chums call him Piggy, a nickname he despises. The other boy later introduces himself as Ralph. Ralph says his father will rescue them when he learns that their plane is missing.
Ralph goes swimming in a lagoon near a slab of pink granite. There, he finds a conch about 18 inches long. Piggy recognizes it as a valuable find, telling Ralph that blowing into it will make a sound loud enough to be heard a long way off. If there are other survivors, they might come running.
Then others arrive, including a group of choir singers led by a boy of superior bearing barking commands. His name is Jack Merridew.Usingthe rules of civilization taught at school, the boys assemble to choose a leader. Jack nominates himself and all of his choirboys vote for him. But Ralph–who seems bright and sensible and who is, moreover, the holder of the conch, which is perceived as a symbol of authority–gets the majority of votes. To pacify Jack, Ralph appoints him and his choirboys as hunters. Of course, there is plenty of fruit on the island, the boys have discovered. But they hunger for more substantial fare: meat.
Late in the afternoon, Ralph blows the conch, summoning all the boys for a meeting. First, he tells them that he, Jack, and Simon found no signs of other human life on the island; they are alone. They did discover, however, that there are pigs on the island to enliven their diet.
Next, he makes a rule: Whenever anyone speaks at a meeting, he will hold the conch, signaling that no one must interrupt him. When another person wishes to speak, he will raise his hand and the conch will be passed to him.
A little boy, crying, says he has seen a “snake-thing.” The other boys doubt his story, suggesting he had a nightmare. There are no “beasties” on the island, they assure him.
When Ralph suggests that they build a fire on a nearby mountain, everyone jumps up and carries dry wood and leaves to the site. No one has any matches, so Jack snatches Piggy’s eyeglasses and gives them to Ralph, who kneels down and holds the lenses over the wood pile until the concentrated sun rays start the fire. There is applause.
When the boys build huts, they all pitch in enthusiastically at first.
Then many of them–mostly the “littluns,” as the youngest children are called–gradually drop out to swim, play games, or forage for fruit.
Ralph then asks Jack to help, but Jack says he has to pay attention to hunting. “We want meat.” The boys are on the brink of an argument when they change the subject and talk amiably.
Ralph confides to Jack an unsettling thought: When he was in the forest, he felt that something was hunting him. The conversation then returns to pigs and shelters–then the fire. Ralph reminds Jack several times not to forget about the fire.
The next day, Jack and his boys smear clay on their faces as a sort of camouflage, then go off on another hunting expedition. On the beach, Piggy suggests to Ralph that they plant a stick in the ground to make a sun dial. But Ralph, preoccupied with the burden of leadership, turns away.
By and by, he spies a silhouette on the horizon. A ship! He turns to check the signal fire, but sees no smoke. Maybe the fire is out. Frantically, he tears up the mountainside, then stops. Piggy’s glasses! If the fire is out, he will need them. But if the fire is still alive–. No time to waste. He keeps running up the mountain. At the top, he discovers the worst: The fire is dead. As the ship begins to disappear, he shouts at it–“Come back! Come back!” No use. In moments, it is gone.
A while later, Jack returns triumphantly from the hunt. Two of his boys are carrying a pig on a pole resting on their shoulders. All of the hunters are chanting: “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood.”
Ralph, livid with anger, shouts at Jack, “You let the fire go out!” When Piggy also rebukes Jack, the hunting leader doubles him over with a punch to the stomach. Then he slaps at Piggy, and his eyeglasses go flying. One of the lenses shatters on rocks. Ralph and Jack argue, but after tempers cool the boys build a new fire, roast the pig, and eat. When Jack doesn’t offer any meat to Piggy, Simon gives Piggy a portion.
That evening, Ralph calls a meeting to restore discipline and respect for the rules, presenting the following grievances: (1) The boys neglect to refill coconut shells used to hold fresh water for everyone; (2) they shirk their duty to work on shelters; (3) they do not use the rocky area designated as a “lavatory” but, instead, excrete their waste wherever they please; (4) they make separate fires, causing them to neglect the signal fire on the mountain.
From now on, he says, everyone must abide by the rules–and there will be only one fire, the signal fire. To allay growing fears, Ralph declares that there are no beasts to be afraid of; there are only overactive imaginations. Jack seizes this opportunity to ridicule the small boys for believing in such creatures, calling them crybabies and telling them they must learn to live with their fears.
But a boy named Phil nevertheless swears he saw something “big and horrid” in the forest. Another boy, Percival, claims that a beast hides in the sea and comes out at night. There is also talk of ghosts. Then boys start talking out of turn; confusion and disorder result.
Piggy then speaks up: “What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages?
Jack tries to declare himself the new chief, then storms off when he fails. Ralph begins to doubt his ability as a leader and speaks of resigning. Piggy and Simon urge him not to.