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Lord of the Flies. By William Golding. Introduction.

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lord of the flies

Lord of the Flies

By William Golding

  • During an atomic war, an aircraft carrying a group of about 30 pre-adolescent British schoolboys crashes on an uninhabited coral island in the Pacific. The crew has been killed and the boys are left on their own. They begin to collect themselves in a society of food gatherers under their elected chief Ralph.
chapter 1 the sound of the shell
Chapter 1: The Sound of the Shell
  • Ralph and Piggy meet on the island.
  • Ralph is described as a good looking boy with blonde hair who is handsome and athletic; his father is a naval officer.
  • Ralph is enchanted by the location and initially considers the island a paradise.
  • Piggy is described as a fat little boy who lived with his aunt (who kept a sweet shop); he has asthma and weak eyes; he appears to be intellectual. His father is dead and his mother is an unknown quantity.

Piggy wants to find other survivors.

  • Ralph is cruel in teasing Piggy about his nickname.
  • The boys discover a conch and use it as a signal to call the other surviving boys.
  • Simon is a small, thin boy with a pointed chin and very bright eyes; he has long, coarse black hair over a low, broad forehead. He seems mystical.

Jack Merridew is 12 years old, tall, bony, red-haired, freckled, and described as ugly. He is the leader of the choir boys who demonstrates a talent for leadership. He handles the choir with firm discipline and extracts obedience. He has a strict, authoritative and violent manner. Jack takes a liking to Ralph but has an instant disliking for Piggy, calling him fatty and telling him to shut up.

  • Sam and Eric are a pair of light blonde, identical twins.

Roger is a slight, furtive boy. He mutters his name when asked, almost as though he does not care to give out even a little information about himself. He appears secretive.

  • The boys collect themselves on the platform and vote Ralph as their leader. This makes Jack angry because he feels that he should be chief.
  • Ralph assigns Jack as leader of the hunters.
  • Ralph, Jack and Simon explore the island and climb the hills; they refuse to let Piggy join them.

On the way back from exploring, the three boys come across a piglet and Jack raises his knife to kill it but doesn’t go through with it. He’s still civilized.

  • Symbols:
  • Island –boat shaped – hope of rescue.
  • Scar on the island – represents cities scared by atomic warfare; destruction of something beautiful.
  • Conch shell – symbol of authority.
  • Mountain – symbol of spiritual freedom.
  • Rock – symbol of brute force – FORESHADOWING
  • Jack – represents reckless leader who prefers destruction to creation.
chapter 2 fire on the mountain
Chapter 2: Fire on the Mountain
  • A meeting is called when Ralph, Jack and Simon return from exploring.
  • Ralph establishes rules for better conduct. (p.36)
  • Branches of order (govt.) are set up.
  • Jack will beat up violators of rules.
  • Ralph exhibits optimism for being rescued and does not seem to understand the severity of the situation. (p.37, p.41) “Until the grown-ups come to fetch us we’ll have fun.” (p.38)

A young boy, with a mulberry-colored birthmark, tells the group how he saw a snake-like creature – a beastie – that wanted to eat him. (p.39) Introduction of fear.

  • Ralph emphasized the need for a signal fire. (p.41) Importance of rescue.
  • Piggy lectures on being rescued and their immaturity. (p.42) He shows very intellectual observations for a young boy. (p.50)

Jack uses Piggy’s glasses to start the fire (p.44) and this fire gets out of control. (p.49)

  • Jack demonstrates his violent nature. (p.35, 36, 40)
  • Rules begin to be broken (p.42, 46) but Ralph tries to reestablish order. (p.46-47)
  • Note p.47 – irony/foreshadowing – Jack says, ”We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages.”

Nobody will listen to Piggy when he has the conch and this causes him to lose his temper (p.49) and lecture the boys. (p.50)

  • Piggy realizes that the boy with the birthmark is missing and was last seen down by the fire that was out of control. (p.51)
chapter 3 huts on the beach
Chapter 3: Huts on the Beach
  • Jack stalks a pig through the jungle (p.52-52)
  • When Jack returns he comes across Ralph and Simon who are trying to build a hut. Ralph says about the others: “They keep running off. You remember the meeting? How everyone was going to work hard until the shelters were finished?” (p.54-55)
  • “They’re hopeless. The older ones aren’t much better. They’re off bathing, or eating, or playing.” (p.55)
  • Others are unwilling to help – loss of responsibility.

Jack justifies his not helping with the shelters because of the need to find meat, even though the rest of his hunters came back hours before him. (p.55)

  • “He tried to convey the compulsion to track down and kill that was swallowing him up.” (p.55) “The madness came into his eyes again.”
  • Jack justifies his hunting to Ralph. (p.56)

Ralph, Jack and Simon discuss how the darkness scares the boys “They dream. You can hear ‘em.” “They talk and scream. The littluns. Even some of the others.” (p.56)

  • Jack talks about the rush he feels when hunting. (p.57)
  • Ralph, voice of reason: “The best thing we can do is get ourselves rescued.” Jack’s response: “Rescue? Yes, of course! All the same, I’d like to catch a pig first-“ (p.58)
  • P.58-59 – Jack obsessed with killing a pig.
  • Simon wanders off to his hiding place in the forest (p.61-62). His is a place which is mystical and spiritual-like.
  • Different purposes separate the boys and weaken unity of society.
chapter 4 painted faces and long hair
Chapter 4: Painted Faces and Long Hair
  • Boys are getting use to the island.
  • The sun causes mirages that only Piggy recognizes.
  • Littluns eat fruit and get sick – they begin to isolate themselves from each other.
  • P.65 – Roger stomps through the sand castles the littluns had built – Maurice followed, laughing, and added to the destruction. Maurice kicked sand in a littlun’s eyes and felt the unease of wrong-doing. (p.65)

Roger picked up a stone, aimed, and threw it at Henry but threw it to miss. “Here invisible yet strong, was the taboo of old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law.” (p.67)

  • Jack paints faces for pig hunt – a disguise – “the mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness.” (p.69)
  • Piggy – only boy whose hair never seemed to grow. (p.70)

Ralph spots a ship in the distance and realizes that Jack and his hunters have let the fire go out (society crumbling) p.72-73

  • Jack and the hunters return with a dead pig, shouting: “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood.”
  • Confrontation between the boys – Piggy criticizes Jack and Jack breaks Piggy’s glasses. (p.78)
  • The boys feast and party with roasted pig killed by Jack; Piggy doesn’t get any until Simon shares. (p.80)
  • Ralph calls an assembly. (p.82)
chapter 5 beast from water
Chapter 5: Beast from Water
  • Ralph is alone, gathering his thoughts on the assembly. “This meeting must not be fun, but business.” (p.83)
  • At the meeting, Ralph lectures on: getting drinking water (p.86); rules of sanitation (p.87); not building shelters (p. 87); keeping the fire going (p.88); and the fear of the littluns at night (p.89).
  • Ralph: “We decide things. But they don’t get done.” (p.86)

Fear spreads through the group. They discuss the beastie. Jack scolds the littluns in a harsh, cruel manner because of their fears. (p.90)

  • Piggy takes the conch to speak about the beastie but the boys show no respect for him. (p.91)
  • P. 92 – Foreshadowing – Ralph is telling the boys that there is nothing to fear and Piggy responds, “Unless we get frightened of people.”
  • P. 92-93 – Littlun (Phil) saw something big and horrid moving in the trees at night. Simon admits that it may have actually been him going to a place he knows in the jungle.

P. 96 – Percival says that “the beast comes out of the sea” and then cries himself to sleep.

  • P. 97 – insightful comment by Simon – “maybe there is a beast – what I mean is…maybe it’s only us.” (mans essential illness)
  • P. 98-99 – Ralph tries to regain control – too much talking out of turn.
  • P. 99 – Piggy says, “What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages? What are grown-ups going to think?”

P. 100 – Jack’s philosophy – “Bollocks to the rules! We’re strong – we hunt! If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat and beat and beat -!”

  • P. 101 – Ralph threatens to resign as chief but Piggy and Simon convince him not to.
  • P. 102 – Piggy fells vulnerable around Jack – he fears his safety if Jack becomes chief. Piggy says, “We’re all drifting and things are going rotten. At home there was always a grown up.”
  • P. 103 – Ralph, Piggy and Simon long for home and the adult world.
  • P. 103 – Percival wakes up having a nightmare.
chapter 6 beast from air
Chapter 6: Beast from Air
  • Battle of planes in the sky but all the boys were asleep, even Samneric, who were supposed to be watching the fire. (p.104-105)
  • The body of a dead adult (wearing a parachute) falls onto the island. The twins awake and think that the flapping parachute of the dead pilot was a beast. (p.107)
  • An assembly is called and a search party is organized to find the beast on the island. (p.110-111) Jack responds, ”This’ll be a real hunt!”
  • Piggy remains to look after the littluns and huts.

Jack, Ralph and the others explore caves and the hill and forget the purpose of the expedition.

  • A power struggle emerges between Jack and Ralph, hunting the beast vs. maintaining the fire for rescue.
  • Thinking the dead pilot is a beast proves that Piggy and Ralph are right in saying fear is in the human imagination.
  • P. 116 – pushing rocks down into the ocean from the top of Castle Rock. Jack: “Shove a palm trunk under that (rock) and if an enemy comes –“

Rocks become a destructive force and foreshadow future happening.

  • Castle Rock (hill) – symbolizes increased savagery.
  • Ralph upset – fire gone out again. (p.117)
  • Boys seem ready to accept Jack as chief. P.119 – Ralph says, ”I’m chief…There’s no signal showing. There may be a ship out there. Are you all off your rockers.” Mutinously, the boys fell silent or muttering. Jack led the way down the rock and across the bridge.
chapter 7 shadows and tall trees
Chapter 7: Shadows and Tall Trees
  • The boys hunt the island for the beast.
  • Ralph notices their deteriorating personal cleanliness (p.120).
  • Ralph longs for home and Simon recognizes this in Ralph (p.122).
  • Jack assumes the leadership role in this hunt/exploration (p.123).
  • P.123 – Ralph remembers his past – still very clear and distinct; details of the good times. “Everything was all right; everything was good-humored and friendly.” (p.124)

They come across a pig and Ralph launches his spear into the pig’s snout (p.124). He is “full of fright and apprehension and pride.” He brags about this and feels that “hunting was good after all.” (p.125)

  • Robert pretends he is a pig, the boys circle him and nearly kill him (p.126). Ralph: “The desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering.”
  • Maurice suggests they ought to have a drum (primitive-like).
  • Darkness arrives and the boys argue whether or not to continue up the mountain. Simon agrees to return to the beach on his own to be with Piggy and the littluns (p.129).

Ralph and Jack dare each other to explore the mountain in the dark; Jack is determined to go (p.131) and Ralph feels pressured into going (p.132).

  • Roger agrees to join them (p.132).
  • Ralph thinks that they are being foolish so Jack continues on his own (p.133). Jack quickly returns and is terrified – he says he saw the beast (p.134). Jack hesitates when Ralph says he wants to go check it out.
  • The three boys continue to the top of the mountain and see a “creature that bulged”. (p.135)
  • The mountain quickly becomes deserted (p.136).
chapter 8 gift for the darkness
Chapter 8: Gift for the Darkness
  • News of the beast brings terror (p.137).
  • Jack calls a meeting and says they have seen the beast; he says that Ralph has doubted the skill and courage of the hunters; he says Ralph is a coward and unfit to be chief (p.138).
  • They hold another vote but Ralph still wins (p.141). The “humiliating tears” run from Jack’s eyes.
  • Jack is angry and leaves to form his own group (p.141).

Piggy suggests they have their signal fire on the beach since the old one is up where the beast is (p.142).

  • Many of the boys sneak off to join Jack’s group (p.144-145).
  • Simon goes off to his special spot in the forest (p.146).
  • Jack and his gang hunt, kill a pig (climax) and mount the head of the pig on a stick and leave it as a sacrifice to the beast. (Images of savagery)

Jack’s gang attacks Ralph’s group in order to steal fire to roast their pig (p.150). They extend an invitation to join their gang and enjoy a feast (p.155).

  • Movement from order to chaos.
  • Head of the pig is the Lord of the Flies and is a symbol of terror.
  • The Lord of the Flies is near Simon’s hideout; it speaks to Simon: “You know, don’t you? I’m part of you?” Simon loses consciousness (p.158-159).
chapter 9 a view to a death
Chapter 9: A View to a Death
  • Simon awakens from unconsciousness (p.160)
  • “Simon saw a humped thing suddenly sit up on the top and look down at him; the flies had found the figure too; he understood.” (p.161) Simon sets the pilot free.
  • Simon realizes that this news must reach the others as soon as possible (p.162).
  • More boys join Jack’s gang (p.163).
  • Piggy says, “P’raps we ought to go too; I mean – to make sure nothing happens.” (p.163)
  • Ralph and Piggy go to the feast where Jack sat “like an idol.” (p.164) While there, Piggy “once more was the centre of social derision.”

At the feast “power lay in the brown swell of his (Jack’s) forearms; authority sat on his shoulder…” (p.165). Jack tries to assert himself as chief, promising food and security from the beast (p.166).

  • Storm imagery.
  • Ralph promises the security of shelter from the storm (p.167).
  • As the thunder and lightening begins, the boys begin to simulate a pig hunt, with Roger as the pig. Ralph and Piggy join. Eventually Roger ceases to be the pig so that the “centre of the ring yawned emptily.” (p.167)

In this frenzy, Simon stumbles out of the forest, trying to tell the boys that there is no beast. However, the boys mistake Simon for the beast and kill him. (p.168)

  • Imagery of Simon’s body and the body of the dead pilot washing out to sea. The beast is no longer needed on the mountain since they are now human beasts.
chapter 10 the shell and the glasses
Chapter 10: The Shell and the Glasses
  • Ralph’s group is getting even smaller (p.171).
  • Ralph and Piggy are ashamed of their role in Simon’s death. (p.172) They try to justify their actions by convincing themselves they were on the outside of the circle and it was an accident. (p.173)
  • Ralph, Piggy, and Samneric do not admit they took part in the “dance”. (p.175)
  • Jack is now the chief at Castle Rock. (p.175)
  • Rock imagery – destruction; keeps out intruders. (p.176)
  • The boys in Jack’s gang are now referred to as savages. (p.177)

Jack – ties up Wilfred and beats him, for no apparent reason. (p.176)

  • Jack’s gang plans another hunt and realize they need to steal fire from Ralph’s group. Jack, Maurice and Roger will attack. (p.178)
  • Ralph’s small group is finding it difficult to keep the fire lit (p.181) and long to be rescued.
  • During the night Jack, Maurice and Roger violently attack Ralph’s group and steal Piggy’s glasses. (p.186)
chapter 11 castle rock
Chapter 11: Castle Rock
  • Ralph’s group is without fire and Piggy cannot see. They call an assembly to try to come up with a solution. (pp. 187-188)
  • Piggy, Ralph and Samneric decide to go to Castle Rock to get the glasses back and try to reason with Jack’s gang. (pp. 101-191)
  • Jack – painted face – “liberation into savagery that the concealing paint brought.” (p.191)
  • When they reached Castle Rock, the “savages appeared, painted out of recognition.” (p.193)

Ralph tries to call an assembly at Castle Rock but Jack’s gang laugh at him. (p.194)

  • Jack returns from another successful pig hunt and Ralph confronts him about stealing Piggy’s glasses (p. 195)
  • Ralph and Jack begin to physically fight and Piggy reminds Ralph what they came for. (p. 196)
  • Ralph discusses the glasses and the signal fire but Jack’s gang laugh at him. (p. 197)

Jack’s gang tie up Samneric. (p.198)

  • Piggy holds the conch and demands to speak. Jack’s tribe is silent in order to hear what amusing things he has to say. Piggy scolds the boys for acting like kids. (p. 199)
  • Roger releases a giant boulder from Castle Rock. This rock smashes into Piggy and kills him; it also destroys the conch. Jack is excited by this. (p. 200)
  • Jack’s gang throw spears at Ralph and Roger tortures the twins. (p.200-201)

Ralph runs for fear of his own life. (p. 201)

  • Note: Roger now throws rocks to hurt.
  • Note: Intellect and reason are destroyed with the death of Piggy.
chapter 12 cry of the hunters
Chapter 12: Cry of the Hunters
  • Ralph runs for his life. “These painted savages would go further and further.” (p. 203) However, he then tries to justify the actions of the tribe: “No. They’re not as bad as that. It was an accident.”
  • P. 204 – Ralph hits out at the Lord of the Flies.
  • P. 205 – Ralph advances toward Castle Rock again. He realizes that Samneric were now part of Jack’s tribe.

Ralph gets the attention of the twins and Samneric warn him that the tribe plans to hunt for him with a stick pointed at both ends.

  • Ralph sleeps near Castle Rock.
  • The tribe begin the hunt and Samneric disclose Ralph’s secret that he is hiding in the nearby thicket.
  • The tribe push rocks down the hill into the thicket and then set fire to it to smoke Ralph out. Ralph runs for his life.

“There was no Piggy to talk sense. There was no solemn assembly for debate nor dignity of the conch.” (p. 218)

  • The tribe has set the island on fire.
  • Ralph finds a hiding spot, is discovered and is chased out onto the beach. (p. 220)
  • He looks up to see a naval officer. Note: revolver; sub machine gun images. (adult authority)

Officer comments on “fun and games” – ironic (p. 221)

  • “We saw your smoke. What have you been doing? Having a war or something?”
  • “Who’s the boss here?” Ralph responds loudly, “I am.” (p. 222)
  • Emotional release of the boys. (p. 223)
  • “Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of a true, wise friend called Piggy.”