Lord of the Flies by William Golding
William Golding wrote this novel in 1954. Golding fought in World War II and then taught at a school for boys. Both of these experiences influenced Lord of the Flies, which is about what happens to a group of boys who are stranded on an island. The author is concerned with the rules society sets up and what happens when you don’t have rules to follow. Since there aren’t any adults on the island, the boys have to figure out their own rules. Knighted in 1988, Sir William Golding’s novel tells a haunting tale of the intellect clashing with the animal instinct.
Ralph: Ralph is twelve and very handsome. He is convinced that someone will come to rescue the boys. Ralph is smart, fair, and democratic. A leader-type, Ralph is a good guy.
Jack: Jack is a kid who butts heads with Ralph. Jack is the opposite of Ralph. He wants a lot of power, and when he doesn’t get voted the leader, he throws a tantrum and lashes out in a negative way. His way of dealing with people is through violence and fear. As the book goes on, Jack becomes more and more of an evil jerk.
Simon: A loner, Simon is shy, and very spiritual. He has epilepsy and has seizures.
Piggy: Piggy is kind of a loser. Fat and almost blind, he gets picked on by all the other kids. However, Piggy is really smart. He becomes Ralph’s right hand man and gives Ralph a lot of advice.
Roger: The bully of the group. He uses his strength to control the kids and have them fear him. Roger is Jack’s right hand man.
Sam and Eric: Twins that the group thinks of as always together.
In a world where nuclear war is happening, a group of boys are on a plane that gets shot down. They land on a tropical island. The pilot is killed so boys are all alone. The boys wander around. Ralph and Piggy find a conch shell and when they blow on it, all the boys appear. Ralph is elected the leader of the bunch. Jack is appointed as the hunter to get food. An important part of the story emerges here as one of the younger boys tells everyone that there is a beast in the dark woods. This strikes fear into everyone because they all think there is a beast on the island. The hunting continues and Jack finally kills a pig – he enjoys the act of killing. Fears about the beast resurface and many are certain that this big beast exists. Jack decides to leave Ralph’s group and form his own group. Some of the kids go with Jack.
Jack becomes more and more deranged. He kills another pig and puts the head on a stick as some weird ritual gift to the beast of the dark. Pretty much every kid goes to Jack’s big pig roast. Then Simon is all alone in the woods, has a seizure, and hallucinates that the pig’s head on the stick is talking to him.
When Simon walks back, he finds a dead guy in a tree attached to a parachute. He figures out that this guy could have been the "beast" people saw. So he goes to tell the others. Over at Jack’s camp, Ralph and Piggy have joined the party. The weather is stormy. Ralph and Jack fight over who should be the leader. Jack says he is the leader, but Ralph has the conch shell which calls the boys together. They end up doing the pig-killing dance where they chant "Kill the Beast, Cut his throat, Spill his blood." The hunters get so riled up and excited that when Simon returns, everyone attacks him and they beat him and kill him.
The next night, the hunters go after Ralph and Piggy and steal Piggy’s glasses, making him nearly blind. They throw a boulder over a cliff, which destroys the conch and hits Piggy who falls off a cliff and dies. Jack then makes himself the leader. The next day he plans to search the island and kill Ralph. Just as they’re about to find him, Ralph goes to the beach and finds a soldier (adult). Yeehaw, Ralph is saved.
CHAPTER BY CHAPTER
- The boys are on the island.
- Ralph and Piggy wander around the island. They think it is paradise.
- They talk about if they will be rescued. The first chapter describes the two as opposites. Ralph is handsome, not a thinker but Piggy is fat and a thinker.
- They find a conch shell and Piggy decides to blow on it to "call" the boys.
- Jack walks up the beach with his bunch of kids and meets Ralph.
- Ralph is elected the leader because the boys see that he has the conch.
- Everyone explores the island
- They have a second big meeting and a small boy tells everyone that he saw a beast in the woods.
- To alert a rescue ship, the boys build a fire using the lenses from Piggy’s glasses.
- At the meeting Ralph sets a bunch of rules – like only the person holding conch shell may talk.
- The boys become happier as their fire becomes bigger.
- The chapter starts with Jack practicing his hunting techniques and Ralph trying to build shelters.
- When Jack returns he talk with Ralph about his love for killing. Then they talk about the beast and how all the other kids are becoming more and more scared.
- Jack makes fun of the kids who are scared of the beast.
- Tension builds between Ralph and Jack. Ralph is the good guy, and Jack is evil.
- Jack leads his hunters on a killing expedition. They paint their faces.
- Meanwhile a ship passes the island.
- Jack breaks one of Piggy’s lenses.
- The boys are becoming more and more primitive and wild. They don’t care about time or appearance.
- Ralph spots the ship passing and is mad because Jack went hunting instead of trying to flag down the ship.
- Jack returns from hunting and he and Ralph face off. They have a series of arguments.
- Ralph makes Jack rebuild the fire. At the dinner, Jack and his buds are acting like savages imitating what it is like to kill the pig.
- Ralph is kinda jealous and mad because he is the mature leader and can’t be a savage like everyone else.
- Ralph calls a meeting to talk about how they will survive.
- At this point Ralph is trying to act like an adult and a responsible leader.
- He talks about making smoke to get rescued and also why the kids are breaking up and acting like savages.
- Piggy tries to explain his ideas on the beast in the jungle. He asks what the beast eats, and the kids say "Pig."
- Simon tries to convince everyone that there is no beast but Jack makes fun of him and shuts him up.
- Jack questions Ralph’s leadership, then Jack breaks a rule and talks without the conch. Ralph and Piggy realize they are losing control of the group.
- The twins think they see the beast and get Ralph to go look at it. The "beast" turns out to be the dude who parachuted down and died.
- The twins think the man is still moving. So Ralph calls all the boys together and Ralph and Jack go to search for this beast.
- All the boys do is play and Ralph cannot control them. The whole group is slowly starting to follow the evil Jack.
- Ralph caves in and follows Jack. He realizes that he does not want to be alone… if you can’t beat em… join em.
- Jack smells some warm pig poop and gets excited cause he knows he will kill the animal soon.
- A wild boar charges and Ralph hits it. This hunting excites Ralph.
- Ralph tells everyone that the boar must be the beast, but Jack says no because he does not want Ralph to have the glory of killing the much feared beast.
- They dance and imitate the scene of killing the boar.
- They continue searching for the beast, even though it has gotten dark.
- Both Jack and Ralph think they see the beast and are both scared.
- Jack uses the conch and calls his own meeting. He makes fun of Ralph and says that he is too weak of a person to be a leader.
- The boys take another vote and Ralph wins again as leader. Jack cries cause he wants to be the leader really badly. Jack leaves the group. This makes Piggy one happy, fat kid.
- Simon talks about the beast and suggests that they all go look for it. Then Simon goes off alone to meditate or something.
- Then they book details one of Jack’s hunts and how he kills a pig. Some kinds disturbing potential sexual innuendo too… Then he rubs blood on some of his followers and then puts the pig’s head on a stick as an offering to the beast.
- Simon discovers the head on a stick, and sees it as evil. He then has a seizure
- Then the book goes back to Jack, who is totally naked except for a mask. He invites Ralph and his boys to the feast. Ralph tries to tell them that maintaining a fire is more important than a dumb feast but all the kids wanna have fun so they go to the feast.
- The end of this chapter is Simon talks to the pig’s head (seizure hallucinations), which he calls the Lord of the Flies. They have this deep conversation about evil inside man.
- Simon has this new vision now about evil inside human nature and feels he must tell everyone.
- Simon also finds the parachutist guy’s body and knows that must be the beast. So he wants to tell everyone that, too.
- At the feast, Ralph and Piggy join Jack in eating meat.
- All the boys dance and chant stuff about killing the beast.
- They get so riled up that when Simon appears, they all go mad, mistake him for the beast and jump on him and beat him to death.
- Simon’s body is washed out to sea.
- All the boys talk about what they did to Simon. Ralph and Piggy cannot come to grips with the fact that they murdered Simon.
- Meanwhile, Jack and his hunter group post a guard (Roger) in case of any attack. He is to release a big rock if anyone trespasses.
- Now we see that Jack is a powerful leader. All his followers are like slaves to him.
- Ralph builds a fire for comfort and to alert a rescue team. In the middle of the night Jack attacks Ralph’s shelter and takes Piggy’s glasses.
- Ralph and Piggy’s fire goes out. Piggy wants his glasses back and wants to go to Jack’s fort and get them back. Ralph warns him against it.
- They still go over. The guard tells them to stop, but Ralph tries to talk to Jack. Ralph calls Jack a thief.
- The twins, Sam and Eric, are with Ralph and Piggy but Jack’s tribe takes them and converts them into savages.
- They argue about what they have done on the island and how they are savages. Ralph and Jack finally have a showdown.
- Roger pushes the rock down the hill and it hits Piggy, and Piggy falls onto the rocks and dies.
- Jack threatens Ralph but Ralph escapes and runs for his life.
- Ralph runs into the jungle. The boys run after him to kill him.
- He goes back to Jack’s fort during the day to try and talk with everyone. He finds that now the twins are guards, guarding Jack’s "Castle" against him.
- He learns that there is a big search party trying to kill him.
- Then the others discover Ralph and Ralph hides in some bushes. The boys try to burn him out of his hiding place.
- The fire spreads and Ralph runs for his life away from the boys. Then he lands on the beach and there stands a navy dude in uniform.
- All the savagery is over and the boys are taken away.
THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART
- Your teacher will probably talk about two things when discussing this book: Superego and ID. Sigmund Freud, a famous psychology guy, defined "Superego" as the state of mind that’s like a policeman – it keeps the "Id" in check, so you can follow the rules of society, like your conscience. The "Id" is all the animal instinct stuff like sex and killing and being wild.
- Think about which boys could represent which states of mind – Ralph as the "Superego" and Jack as the "Id."
- This book deals with the issues of power and government. We see many types of leadership/government in the book -- Ralph and Piggy want a democratic environment where everyone gets a vote but Jack wants a Monarchy, where he is the king and his word is the law.
- This book shows how strong animal instinct is. If we don’t have organized laws or organized society, we go crazy and act like animals.
- Do you think the same types of things would happen to adults in the same situation?