The Lord of the Flies

BY: William Golding

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How is the Lord of the Flies an allegory?

The Lord of the Flies is an allegory because it shows how humans are still wild, deep down. It shows that if you leave humans alone for long enough, they will resort to killing and violence to solve problems. It shower that even the most innocent, such as English school boys, can become monsters.

Chapter Summaries

  1. The Sound of the Shell: Ralph and Piggy meet for the first time on the island. The "adult world" is in the middle of a war, and the boys were being transferred because of it. The plane they were in was shot down, and crash-landed on this island. They discover a conch shell on the beach, and Ralph decides to blow it to see if they can find the other boys. They then encounter Jack, the leader of the boy's choir. Ralph is elected leader of the boys.
  2. Fire on the Mountain: Ralph, Piggy, and Jack explore the island to find that there is no civilization. They agree there will be assigned hunters for the group, since they saw some pigs on the island. They also agree that whoever holds the conch during meetings, gets to speak. The conch is starting to symbolize order. In the meeting, a littlun says that he saw a "beastie" in the jungle. This strikes fear in the boys. Ralph, thinking about rescue, suggests that they start a signal fire. The boys run off the make a pile of wood for the fire. They use the lenses from Piggy's glasses to start the fire, which eventually gets out of hand. After they manage to put the fire out, Piggy notices the littlun who informed the boys about the beast is now gone.
  3. Huts on the Beach: Ralph and Simon begin building huts for the boys to live in. Jack is too worried about hunting, and Ralph gets angry because Simon is the only one helping him build. He accuses Jack of using hunting as an excuse to not do any other work. This makes Jack angry and the two boys start to dislike each other. Simon then walks in the jungle by himself, admiring the beauty and animals that surround him.
  4. Painted Faces and Long Hair: The littluns continue talking about the beastie. They are having bad dreams, and can't get it out of their heads. Two boys,Roger and Maurice, like to torment the littluns by destroying their sand castles and throwing rocks at them. However, he only aims to miss. Meanwhile, Jack becomes obsessed with the idea of killing a pig. He paints his face with clay and charcoal in order to blend in with the jungle. While Jack is in his own world hunting, Ralph and Piggy see a ship in the distance. They also see that the signal fire has gone out. The hunters emerge from the forest with their first pig, and Ralph yells at them because it was their job to keep the fire going. Harsh words are shared between Jack and Ralph, their dislike for each other growing stronger.
  5. Beast from Water: In the evening, Ralph blows the conch shell and calls the boys into a meeting. In the meeting, Ralph addresses that the boys are not doing the things that they promised to do. He states that there are not monsters on the island, so the boys should stop being afraid. This in no way stops the boys from being scared. Ralph thinks about resigning from leadership of the group. Piggy and Simon reassure him that the boys need him, and to not resign.
  6. Beast from Air: In the night, the boys hear military airplanes fly overhead. In the midst of this, a dead parachutist floats down to the island. The parachute gets caught on some rocks and makes an eerie shadow on the ground. When the guards, Sam and Eric, wake up, they work on making the fire brighter. While they do so, they catch sight of the dead parachutist, thinking its the beast. The run back and tell Ralph. Ralph organizes a group, lead by Jack, to search the island for more monsters. They find a part of the island they haven't seen before. The boys explore and play games until Ralph reminds them what their mission is, and they head back to camp.
  7. Shadows and Small Trees: On the way back to the camp, they see pig droppings, and Jack suggests they hunt on their way back to the camp. Ralph has never been on a hunt before, and starts to get caught up in the excitement and adrenaline of the chase. Eventually the pig escapes, leaving the boys with some nasty cuts and gashes. They continue to look for the monster, in doing so Jack claims to have seen the monster. When they look to see what Jack is talking about, they see the shadows of the dead parachutist's parachute. Terrified, the boys run back to warn the other boys of what they've seen.
  8. Gift for the Darkness: When the boys return to the camp, Jack takes the conch shell and blows it, calling a meeting. He tells the boys about what they saw, and says that Ralph won't protect them from the beast if he remains leader. The boys refuse to vote Ralph out of power, however. This makes Jack angry, so he says he is leaving the group, and anyone who wants to join him, can. Piggy suggests that the remaining boys make another signal fire on the beach, instead of on the mountain. While doing this, some of the boys sneak off to join Jack's group. On the other side of the island, Jack declares himself chief of his group. They kill a sow, and put it's head on a sharpened spear, leaving it as an offering for the beast. Meanwhile, Simon is on one of his nature walks. He stumbles across the head of the sow on the spear, and is mesmerized by it. The "Lord of the Flies" tells him that he will not be able to escape him, because he is in all human beings. He also tells Simon that some "fun" awaits him.
  9. A View to a Death: The next morning, Simon gets up and walks around. He comes across the "beast" which is actually not a beast at all. When he figures this out, he untangles the parachute from the rocks, wanting to tell Jack's group that there is no beast. Piggy and Ralph also venture over to Jack's side of the island, to see him eating and being waited on like a king. A bad storm is coming, and Ralph asks how Jack plans on coping since they haven't built any shelter. Jack then instructs them to do the hunting dance. Ralph and Piggy got caught up in the craziness, joining in with the other boys. They then see someone emerge from the forest; it's Simon. But, in their wild state, they do not recognize him. The boys claim he is the beast, and begin tearing him apart. He tries to escape, but trips and falls onto the rocks below. The boys then jump on top of him, killing him. His corpse is washed away into the ocean, symbolizing how he is meant to be part of nature.
  10. The Shell and the Glasses: Ralph and Piggy feel ashamed about the events of the night before. Piggy denies that it was their fault Simon died, that it was an accident. Jack's group now resides at Castle Rock, the mountain. Jack rules the tribe with fear. In the night, Jack's tribe attacks Ralph and the boys in his group, taking Piggy's glasses; the source of fire.
  11. Castle Rock: They attempt to start a fire the next morning, but to no avail, they don't have Piggy's glasses. They decide to go to Castle Rock in order to knock some sense into Jack and his tribe. They bring the conch, hoping it will remind Jack of Ralph's original leadership. When Jack arrives at the camp and sees Ralph there, he immediately fight him. In the midst of the fighting Roger releases a boulder form the top of the mountain, striking Piggy and knocking him off the cliff, killing him.
  12. Cry of the Hunters: Ralph thinks about everything he has done. He feels bad about what has become of him. While walking in the woods, he comes across the Lord of the Flies, only just a skull now. He takes the spear from the skull, and uses it as a weapon. When he arrives at Jack's camp, Sam and Eric warn him that Jack is going to send the whole tribe tomorrow to kill him. Ralph runs. While running he realizes that Jack has set the jungle on fire. He runs and runs til he gets to the beach. When he stumbles onto the beach, he sees a navel officer. He tells Ralph that this ship came to the island after seeing the blazing fire in the jungle. Realizing they have been rescued, the boys sob.
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Character Descriptions

  • Ralph: protagonist, leader of the group, represents human beings' civilizing instinct
  • Jack Merridew: antagonist, leader of the hunters, longs for power, manipulative, represents the instinct of savagery within human beings
  • Simon: shy, sensitive, naturally "good", represents a kind of natural goodness
  • Piggy: whiny, intellectual boy, represents the scientific, rational side of civilization
  • Maurice: one of Jack's key supporters
  • Roger: sly, secretive, caused Piggy's death
  • Littluns: littlest boys, remain with Ralph
  • Samneric: twin boys in charge of keeping the signal fire going
  • Henry: biggest of the littluns
  • Percival: has a nervous breakdown, often picked on by the littluns
  • British Officer: comes to the island and rescues the boy
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Symbolism

  • Conch shell: symbol of order and power
  • School sweaters: symbolizes the boys' getting used to their surrounding on the island
  • Hair and face paint: shows how the boys are adapting to the island, also they have been there a long time
  • The fire: symbolizes the boys' connection to civilization
  • Piggy's eyeglasses: represent the power of science and intellectual endeavor
  • Pig's head on a stick (Lord of the Flies): physical manifestation of the beast, a symbol of evil
  • Imagery of wounds: symbolizes how the boys are becoming more savage and wild
  • Pig hunts: symbolizes man's capacity for destruction and violence
  • Huts: represents civilization
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Biblical Motifs

  1. Simon's glade in the forest parallels to the Garden of Eden
  2. The Lord of the Flies represents the devil
  3. Simon parallels Jesus Christ
Video SparkNotes: William Golding's Lord of the Flies summary

Themes

  1. Civilization vs. Savagery - conflict between two instincts
  2. Experience vs. Innocence - biguns vs. littluns
  3. Nature of Violence - violence is never the answer
  4. Nature of Fear - fear is control
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Why does Ralph cry at the end of the book?

Ralph cried at the end of the book because of the officer. The officer symbolizes civilization. Once Ralph saw the officer, his civilized mentality took over again. He realized what he had done. He realized just how much of a monster he had become.