Lord of the Flies

William Golding

Allegory

An allegory is a form of writing or a picture that portrays a disguised message. Lord of the Flies is an allegory because it hides a message in the story; the story tells us that there is sin, or "a beast" in every human's heart, no matter how proper they were raised to be.

Chapter Summary

Chapter 1: The Sound of the Shell

Chapter One is titled The Sound of the Shell because, in this chapter, Ralph blows the conch to call all of the other boys on the island together.


Main Events:

  1. Ralph and Piggy meet and introduce themselves.
  2. Ralph blows the conch to gather all of the boys together for a meeting.
  3. The boys elect Ralph as chief.
  4. While Ralph, Jack, and Simon are on the mountain, Jack hesitates to kill a pig, and promises that he will not waver in killing a pig next time.

Chapter 2: Fire on the Mountain

Chapter Two is called Fire on the Mountain because the boys try to light a fire as a signal to passing ships.


Main Events:

  1. The boys gather at a meeting, and they decide that whoever holds the conch will speak.
  2. At the meeting, A little boy with a birth mark on his forehead asks what they will do about the "beastie."
  3. Ralph proposes that they light a fire on the top of the mountain to use as a signal to passing ships.
  4. The boys attempt to light a fire, but it gets out of control and the little boy with the birthmark goes missing.

Chapter 3: Huts on the Beach

Chapter Three is titled Huts on the Beach because Ralph and Simon work to build shelter for the boys on the island.


Main Events:

  1. Jack becomes obsessed with hunting and trying to catch a pig.
  2. Ralph attempts to build shelter for the boys, but he and Simon are the only boys willing to do real work.
  3. Ralph and Jack argue over which is more important: hunting or building huts.
  4. Simon walks into the jungle alone, helping the kids cut fruit from the trees and gazing at the beauty of nature.

Chapter 4: Painted Faces and Long Hair

Chapter Four is called Painted Faces and Long Hair because Jack paints his face as a sort of camouflage, thinking that the pigs can see him. Also, the boys' hair has grown very long, showing that they have been on the island for a long time.


Main Events:

  1. Jack, determined to kill a pig, paints his face to camouflage himself.
  2. Ralph, Simon, and Piggy see a ship in the distance, but the smoke signal from the fire is gone, so the ship passes them by.
  3. Jack and his hunters finally kill a pig, and sing a violent and bloodthirsty chant while carrying the pig to the fire.
  4. Ralph and Jack argue because Jack and his hunters let the fire go out, ending with Jack apologizing for his irresponsible act.

Chapter 5: Beast from Water

This chapter is called Beast from Water because although the beast does not exist, Percival tells that the east comes from the water at night, terrifying most of the boys. The beast coming from the water is a representation that the beast comes from their own minds and fears.


Main Events:

  1. Ralph calls a meeting to scold boys for not following the rules and neglecting their work.
  2. A littlun named Percival states that the beast comes from the water, contradicting Ralph's previous statement that there is no beast.
  3. Simon says that maybe the beast is in themselves, but he gets laughs in return.
  4. Jack proclaims that they will kill the beast and leaves, and many of the boys follow Jack. Simon, Ralph, and Piggy are left alone.

Chapter 6: Beast from Air

Chapter Six is titled Beast from Air because a dead parachutist lands on the mountain, and the boys all think it is the beast.


Main Events:


  1. When Sam and Eric wake up and tend to the fire, they notice the dead parachutist and race to the other boys, claiming that they were attacked by the beast.
  2. All of the boys (except for Piggy and the littluns) set out on a search for the beast with Jack as the leader.
  3. As they venture into a new part of the island, Ralph and Jack begin to feel their old friendship form.
  4. As the boys begin to play, Ralph reminds them that they must go to the mountain and light the fire, which does not please the others.

Chapter 7: Shadows and Small Trees

This chapter is called Shadows and Small Trees because the boys continue to search for the beast, and they find the shadowy monster and run through the trees on the mountain to tell the group.


Main Events:

  1. The boys go on a pig hunt, and Ralph becomes excited that he wounds a boar for the first time.
  2. While playing a "game," the group of boys almost kills Robert.
  3. Jack asks Ralph to hunt for the beast, and he only agrees to uphold respect in the group.
  4. As Jack, Ralph, and Roger hunt on the mountain, they see the "beast" (the dead parachutist) and run to inform the others.

Chapter 8: Gift for the Darkness

Chapter 8 is titled Gift for the Darkness because Jack's tribe cut off the head of a sow, put it on a stick, and stood it in the ground as an offering to the beast.


Main Events:

1. Jack calls a meeting to try to push Ralph out of his position as chief. However, the boys do not vote Jack into the position, but go off to meet him when night falls.

2. After Jack gathers his new tribe they cut off the head of a sow and offer it as a sacrifice to the beast.

3. Jack and his tribe attack the beach and steal some burning sticks from Ralph and Piggy's fire.

4. Simon returns to his glade and converses with the Lord of the Flies. He collapses from the traumatization.

CHAPTER 9: A VIEW TO A DEATH

Chapter 9 is titled A view to a Death because the boys kill Simon thinking he is the beast, and the ocean washes away the bodies of Simon and the parachutist.


Main Events:

1. Simon finds the dead parachutist and realizes that the boys have mistaken the flapping parachute as the beast.

2. Jack invites Ralph's followers to join him and his tribe. Most of them join him.

3. Simon emerges from the forest to tell the others about the dead parachutist, but they mistake him for the beast. They brutally attack Simon and kill him.

4. A storm rages over the island, washing away the bodies of Simon and the parachutist.

Chapter 10: The Shell and the Glasses

Chapter 10 is titled The Shell and the Glasses because both are damaged. The conch shell is destroyed and Piggy's glasses are stolen.


Main Events:

1. Ralph and Piggy disagree over their part in Simon's death. Piggy calls it an accident while Ralph insists that they had a part in a murder.

2. Jack rules over his tribe with absolute power, punishing boys for no reason. He sees Ralph and his boys as a threat to the tribe.

3. Ralph's power and influence have eroded, while Jack's power is complete as he declares Ralph an enemy f the tribe.

4. Jack and his hunters attack Ralph and his boys, stealing Piggy's glasses. The glasses hold the power to make fire.

CHapter 11: Castle Rock

Chapter 11 is titled Castle Rock because Piggy and Ralph and the boys decide to go to Castle Rock to discuss an agreement with Jack and his tribe.


Main Events:

1. Ralph, Piggy and the boys left for Castle Rock to try to reason with Jack and his tribe.

2. Jack and Ralph fight after Ralph demands that Piggy's glasses be returned. The glasses are critical to a signal fire and rescue.

3. Jack has two of Ralph's boys tied up. This enrages Ralph who then attacks Jack.

4. Piggy tries to reason with them, but Roger shoves a massive rock down the mountainside crushing the conch shell, and knocking Piggy off the mountainside to his death on the rocks below.

5. Ralph escapes another attack, but Sam and Eric are held, tortured, and forced to join Jack's tribe. Ralph is now alone and has become prey to Jack and his hunters.

Chapter 12: cry of the hunters

Chapter 12 is titled Cry of the Hunters because when the British officer comes to rescue them the boys cry in grief because of the violence and savagery that has taken place on the island.


Main Events:

1. Ralph hides in the jungle contemplating the decay of civilization from the island.

2. Ralph comes across the Lord of the Flies which is now a plain white skull, white like the conch shell. He takes the stake and uses it to hold the skull for a weapon against Jack.

3. Ralph sneaks down to the camp at Castle Rock where Sam and Eric give him food and tell him about Jack's plan to hunt him down Ralph hides in the thicket.

4. Jack starts a fire to smoke Ralph out of the thicket. Ralph is able to fight his way through the tribe and ends up exhausted on the beach.

5. A British naval officer is on the beach telling Ralph that they have seen the fire Jack set in the jungle. The officer is appalled by the boys' savage behavior. The boys begin to cry out of grief instead of joy.

Characters

  • Ralph: Ralph is a tall, blonde, handsome twelve year old. He was elected leader by the group of boys on the island. He is naturally a good leader, however, he lacks charm when speaking to the boys in a meeting. Ralph represents order and leadership.
  • Jack Merridew: Jack is a tall, arrogant boy. He is leader of the choir and "head boy." He tries to elect himself leader, but the boys vote for Ralph. Although he is a leader, he is also violent. For example, he quickly becomes obsessed with killing pigs. Jack represents violence and violent dictators, such as Adolf Hitler.
  • Simon: Simon is a quiet, and kind boy who notices the beauty of nature. He helps the littluns cut fruit from the trees, and he goes to his own glade in the jungle to relax. He was always willing to help Ralph when the other boys left to play or hunt. Simon represents good. He is often seen as the Christ figure in the story.
  • Piggy: Piggy is an overweight boy with asthma and glasses. He is extremely smart, and a reasonable thinker. Because he is not physically fit he is often teased by the other boys. However, Piggy helps the boys with many of their ideas. For example, the boys use Piggy's glasses to light the fire, and Piggy suggests to move the fire onto the beach, away from the beast. Piggy represents science and intelligence.
  • Maurice: Maurice is closest in size to Jack. He is a combination of good and bad qualities. In the beginning of the novel he helps the other boys by suggesting to use green branches as kindling for the fire. He also fell off the twisting log to distract the children from their sadness. However, he helped Roger ruin the sand castles made by the littluns, and he goes to join Jack's group.
  • Roger: Roger is introduced in the novel as a quiet boy with an intensity that is taken as avoidance and secrecy. Throughout the novel Roger becomes more violent. He ruins the littluns' sand castles, helps Jack steal fire from Ralph and Piggy, and he unleashes the boulder knocking Piggy to his death. Roger is a symbol of violence at its core.
  • littluns: littluns are the younger boys on the island. They spend most of their days eating fruit and playing with each other. During the night they cry out due to nightmares. Littluns are a representation of the common people.
  • Samneric: Samneric are twins that are seen as, and act as one person. They stay loyal to Ralph throughout the majority of the novel. Instead of joining Jack's group at the feast they go back to the beach. However, they are captured by Jack's tribe and beaten until they join the tribe. They also reveal Ralph's location to Jack.
  • Henry: Henry is the biggest of the littluns, and is a cousin of the little boy with the birthmark on his forehead. He is the target of Roger's habit of throwing stones.
  • Percival: Percival is one of the tiniest littluns, and is not very handsome. He is the boy who claimed to have dreams of fighting with the creepers, and would wake up in the jungle. He also claimed that the beast came from the water.
  • British Officer: The British naval officer is a representation of adult society.

Symbols

  • Conch shell: the conch shell is a representation of authority.
  • Clothing (school sweaters): they represent civilization and rules.
  • Hair and face paint: their growing hair represents that they have been on the island for a long time, and the face paint represents their descent into savagery.
  • The fire: the fire represents their connection to civilization, or their want to be rescued.
  • Piggy's eyeglasses: Piggy's glasses represent science and intelligence, and their influence on society.
  • Pig's head on a stick (Lord of the Flies): the Lord of the Flies symbolizes evil, or it can be seen as a parallel to the devil.
  • Creepers (jungle vines): creepers symbolize the violence in each of their hearts and how it controls some of the boys.
  • Imagery of wounds (scars, gashes in trees, lightning and thunder): the imagery of wounds represents that the boys bring destruction to the island revealing a dark part of human nature.
  • The pig hunts: the pig hunts symbolize the boys' violence and thirst for blood.
  • Huts: the huts are a symbol of civilization.
  • Jungle (darkness): the jungle represents the boys' fears. As the jungle gets dark when the day becomes night, all of the boys are suddenly afraid of the jungle and the monster lurking in the jungle.
  • The mountain: the mountain is a symbol of hope because as the boys climb the mountain they attain hope of surviving and being rescued.

Biblical Motifs



Biblical motifs:

  • Simon's peaceful place in the forest that he goes to visit is a reference to the Garden of Eden. Like the Garden of Eden, it was a beautiful place before it was degraded by evil and sin.
  • Simon has often been connected to Jesus in Lord of the Flies. Simon is the boy who realizes the truth about the beast, and is killed because of this realization.
  • The Lord of the Flies is seen as a parallel to the devil in this novel, because it is a representation and a promoter of evil in humans.
  • When Simon converses with the Lord of the Flies, their conversation is related to Jesus' confrontation with the devil during His forty days in the desert.

Themes

Civilization vs. Savagery

A main theme in Lord of the Flies is the conflict between good and evil, rules of civilization and savage behavior to obtain power. The decay of civilized behavior among a group of boys when stranded without adult guidance, rules of society, and consequences for savage behavior is prominent throughout the novel. The boys, all except for a handful, are drawn in one way or another to the tribe of hunters and savagery. The issue throughout the novel is whether people are forced into behavior considered to be civilized. When away from civilization does a more basic human instinct of violence, survival and power become dominant.

Experience vs. Innocence

The boys who become stranded on the island are innocent and inexperienced to the savage and brutal instincts revealed as they spend time there. Primal and vicious instincts overcome their innocence as power-hungry Jack and his hunters use the power of fear to take over the island and control over the boys. As they experience hunting, killing, and fear their innocence is lost.

The nature of evil

We are all created with good and evil within us. When faced with rules of civilized society the good within us is more nurtured so that we conform to those rules and live an orderly life. When the rules of civilized social behavior are absent, the evil within us is more free to reveal itself in savage, and reckless behaviors. The power of evil corrupts, while giving the appearance of an appealing nature.

Video

Video SparkNotes: William Golding's Lord of the Flies summary

Why Does Ralph Cry?

Ralph cries at the end of the novel out of guilt and grief. He feels so awful about the sins that were committed on the island, so he breaks down into tears after the British officer looks at him. He is also extremely upset about the death of Simon and Piggy, his two most trusted friends that were on the island.