Lord of the flies1

The classic novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding is an exciting adventure deep into the nether regions of the mind. The part of the brain that is suppressed by the mundane tasks of modern society. It is a struggle between Ralph and Jack, the boys and the Beast, good and evil.

The story takes a look at what would happen if a group of British school boys were to become stranded on an island. At first the boys have good intentions, keep a fire going so that a passing ship can see the smoke and rescue them, however because of the inherent evil of the many the good intentions of the few are quickly passed over for more exciting things. The killing of a pig slowly begins to take over the boys life, and they begin to go about this in a ritualistic way, dancing around the dead animal and chanting. As this thirst for blood begins to spread the group is split into the “rational (the fire-watchers) pitted against the irrational (the hunters) (Dick 121).” The fear of a mythological “beast” is perpetuated by the younger members of the groups and they are forced to do something about it. During one of the hunters’ celebrations around the kill of an animal a fire-watcher stumbles in to try and disband the idea of the monster. Caught of in the rabid frenzy of the dance, this fire-watcher suddenly becomes the monster and is brutally slaughtered by the other members of the group. The climax of the novel is when the hunters are confronted by the fire-watchers. The hunters had stole Piggy’s (one of the fire-watchers) glasses so that they may have a means of making a cooking fire. One of the more vicious hunters roles a boulder off of a cliff, crushing Piggy, and causing the death of yet another rational being. The story concludes with the hunters hunting Ralph (the head and last of the fire-watchers). After lighting half of the island on fire in an attempt to smoke Ralph from his hiding place, they chase him on to the beach only to find a ships captain and crew waiting there to rescue them, because he saw the smoke.

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The novel is packed full of symbolism and irony. Golding also communicates his message quite well. “The title refers to Beelzebub, most stinking and depraved of all the devils: it is he, and not the God of Christians, who is worshipped (Burgess 121).” This is just one of the many examples of symbolism. Another would be that as the story progressed characters names slowly begin to change. A pair of twin boys, Sam and Eric, became know as Samneric, a single unit. Another boy completely forgot his name because he was just lumped into the group know as the little’uns. This is symbolic of the break down of the basic structure of society, identity. If a person does not know who he is then he can never function properly in society. The other tool that Golding uses very well is irony. It is very ironic that the group of boys finally get rescued because they accidentally lit the island on fire hunting down the last of the fire-watchers. From these example it is easy to make a conclusion on the message the William Golding was trying to convey when he wrote Lord of the Flies. “In Lord of the Flies he Golding showed how people go to hell when the usual social controls are lifted, on desert islands real or imaginary (Sheed 121).”
Despite being heavily involved in the war efforts during the second world war, Golding managed to not become a war novelist, this does however, somewhat explain why most of the conflicts in his books are basic struggles between people. “He Golding entered the Royal Navy at the age of twenty-nine in December 1940, and after a period of service on mine sweepers, destroyers, and cruisers, he became a lieutenant in command of his own rocketship (Baker xiii).” So many of the authors of his time used the war as the back ground or main conflict in their books, but not Golding, he is able to use the war as his inspiration and write about the most primitive and basic struggles that man has. One must not think that Golding did not go unchanged from the war, because analysis of his pre-war poetry shows a much softer, more forgiving Golding.

Golding’s basic philosophy can be summed up in a few words – society is evil. All of his books deal with this idea in some way or another. It is very easy to see how this idea is presented in Lord of the Flies where “the good intentions of the few are overborne by the innate evil of the many (Burgess 121).” According to one of many critics “what Golding senses is that institutions and order imposed from with out are temporary, but that man’s irrationality and urge for destruction are enduring (Karl 119).” According to Golding the aim of his works is “to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature (Baker 5).”
Golding’s works have a way about them that is distinctively his. All of his works are in some way copied from other works, but he adapts them to fit his own needs. In his own use of the word, Lord of the Flies and The Inheritors are “parodies” of Ballantyne and Wells. “Golding’s hallmark: a polarity expressed in terms of a moral tension (Dick 121).” This is usually the key thing that makes a Golding novel a Golding novel.

Lord of the Flies, one of William Golding’s many novels, is a well written, well thought out writing that depicts the evils of human nature. William Golding the man himself is qualified enough to write about such topics because he was involved heavily in W.W.II. This caused Golding’s views on life to change to his current philosophy “The shape of society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however apparently logical or respectable (Baker 5).” The frame work of a Golding novel is simple and most often copied from an outside source, then reshape to fit his purpose. Finally I think Wilfrid Sheed said it best when he said “Golding’s writing is not ideally suited to a social novel – it is angular and ugly and the dialogue occasionally sounds immature.” As a matter of opinion though I would recommend Lord of the Flies to anyone.


Lord of the flies1

The Sound of the Shell
The opening chapter begins with two boys, Piggy and Ralph, making their
way through the jungle. We learn, through their dialogue, that they had been
travelling in an airplane with a group of British school children. The plane had
presumably been shot down and crashed on a an island in the Pacific. It is
hinted that the rest of the world is at war, and that most of it has been
destroyed by nuclear attackspossibly explaining that the children were
A storm has come and gone, washing the wreckage away. Ralph and Piggy
meet and revel at the prospect that they are alone on a tropical island with no
adults. They make their way to the beach where they find a large conch shell.

Using the shell as a horn, Ralph summons any other children that may be on
the island. They begin to come from the jungle and Piggy tries to take names.

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Along the beach two marching files of black-clad children approach. This is
the first we see of Jack Merridew (who, oddly enough is the only child,
besides Percival, whose last name we will learn). Piggy is immediately
singled out by the group and made fun of. The children do not like him and
Being children, and at first thinking that survival is a game to be played and
that rescue is inevitable, they decide to vote for a chief “to decide things.” It is
obvious the only two contenders are Jack and Ralph. Ralph is voted in; he had
possession of the conchalready magical in quality to those presentand
seemed the most able. Jack’s black-clad choir are designated as hunters
upon Jack’s insistencealready revealing his need to hunt and kill.
Ralph’s first decision as chief is to send a party out to investigate whether or
not they are really on an island. Himself, Jack, and Simon leave to scale the
mountain. As they climb the pink granite, they take time to have fun and roll a
large boulder off the edge to watch it be destroyed “like a bomb.” This need to
destroy begins with this innocent rock-rolling and will eventually culminate
with the killing of a sow, Simon, Piggy and the hunting of Ralph later in the
They reach the summit and indeed discovery they are on an island,
apparently uninhabited. A new friendship developes between Ralph and Jack.

They savor the “right of domination,” and Jack comments about how they will
have fun and hunt “until they fetch us.” Jack believes rescue is inevitable and
these thoughts will contribute to his behavior later in the novel.
On the descent down the mountain they discover a piglet caught in the
underbrush. Jack unsheathes his knife and raises it, ready to let flybut he
cannot. His current nature will not let him spill bloodbut this will change. He
is embarrassed and promises that next time he will kill.
Fire on the Mountain
Later that evening, Ralph calls another meeting by blowing on the conch. He
conveys to the group of kids that they are on an island with no grown ups (The
number of kids is not fully knownand will never be knownbut we assume it
is around thirty. Most of them are very small, possibly five or six years old and
are called “littluns.” The rest are near Ralph’s age, possibly twelve years old.)
Also, Jack insists on having an army of hunters and begins talking excitedly
At this time Ralph lays down some rules. First, when someone wishes to
speak at an assembly he must hold the conch shell. No one is allowed to
interrupt the holder of the conch except Ralph. The conch begins to
symbolize the organization of society and the rules that such a society must
uphold to function.
They speak excitedly about their new temporary home, how it is a “good
island” and how much fun it will be. Then, a littlun with a large birthmark on
his face steps forward to speak. He is given the conch shell. The child tells of
a “beastie” that he saw in the dark, lurking on the island. It looked like a
snake and is the first manifestation of the Beast. It is argued whether or not
such a beast could live on a small island. Ralph doesn’t think so, but
nonetheless he feels himself “facing something ungraspable.” Jack says his
hunters will kill the beast if, indeed, it does exist.
Ralph then introduces another prevailing symbol of the novel: the signal fire.

He will make it paramount that a signal fire be maintained to aid in their
rescue. At mention of creating such a fire at the top of the mountain, the
children become excited and rush off, lead by Jack, to the summit to see if
they can complete such a taskto really prove they can make it on their
own. Ralph follows, and Piggy comments that they are acting like “a crowd of
kids.” This is ironic, because they are a crowd of kids. It shows how Piggy is
set apart from the group; that he is more mature and does not throw caution
to the wind as Jack does.
A huge pile of gathered wood is made on the top of the mountain. Jack,
against Piggy’s protest, grabs his specs to light the fire with and soon it is
blazing. Piggy comments that the effort was wasted because the fire
produced little smoke. Jack begins arguing with him. Piggy tells Jack that he
has the conch, thus he should not be interrupted, but Jack says, ” The conch
doesn’t count on top of the mountain, so you shut up.’ ” Jack is beginning to
dislike the rules of the conch.
The group of hunters are divided up to take shifts keeping the fire going. It is
then noticed that the sparks from the now-dead fire have ignited half the forest
below the mountain. Piggy speaks out against the group’s immaturity. He
tells them that they ought to be more responsiblethey don’t even know how
many kids are on the island. Jack argues against him. Piggy points to the
inferno and asks where the boy with the birthmark is. Nobody knowshe has
been killed by the fire, by the lack of responsibility, the rampant adventure and
maybe something else that is present in the boys. He is the first to die and
the boys can only stare at the fire, marveling with horror at what they have
The chapter begins many days, possibly weeks, after the fire on the
mountain. Jack is hunting for pigs and has become good at tracking them, but
has not killed one as yet. He comes back to the beach where Ralph and
Simon are trying to build a hut. Two rickety huts have already been
constructed and this last one is not turning out so well. Ralph complains to
Jack how the kids don’t help; they are bathing or eating fruit in the forest
instead. This seems to be a trend with every project they try to
accomplisha project is proposed at a meeting and they work hard for a little
while, but never see it through to completion.
Jack and Ralph have a small argument about whether building huts is more
important than hunting. This is the first of many disputes they will have. The
subject of the beastie comes up again. Many of the littluns are frightened of it,
which is why they are building huts. Jack comments that when he is alone
hunting he feels he is, ” not hunting but being hunted… As though
something is behind you all the time in the jungle.’ ”
Jack has a sudden insight as to where the pigs hide during the day. Ralph
continues to badger him about the fact that keeping up the signal fire is more
important than hunting, but Jack doesn’t seem to think that way. The two
boys are beginning to dislike each other. They go to the bathing pool, where,
“…the shouting and splashing and laughing were only just sufficient to bring
them together again.”
Simon wanders into the jungle, helps the littluns pick fruit, and then wanders
off further, finding a clearing. There is a thick mat of creepers that grow here.

He climbs under them where it is cool and dark and stays there until night fall
Painted Faces and Long Hair
Roger and Maurice are walking through a group of littluns, kicking over the
things they’ve made in the sand. They split off, and Roger hides behind a
palm tree watching a littlun playing by the water. He begins throwing rocks at
the littlun, but he aims to miss, because “the taboos of the old world” are still
Jack comes up behind Roger and asks him to come watch as he puts on a
“mask” of painted camouflage in order to hunt pigs better. As Jack smears the
clay on his face, the mask is “…a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid,
liberated from shame and self-consciousness.” The mask allows Jack to not
worry about rescue and what he knows is right. Behind it he can do what he
Later, Ralph and the rest of the boys are swimming in the bathing pool and
smoke is spotted on the horizon. Ralph looks to the mountain top, but the
signal fire has gone out. Running up to the summit, with the others following,
Ralph reaches the top and the fire is deadthe watchers absent from duty.
Jack and a crowd of hunters move up to the summit, carrying a dead pig. The
hunters are excited about their first kill and begin to explain it all to Ralph.

None of them care that the fire had gone out, it was not important to them; all
they can talk about is the hunt and the kill. When Ralph tells them a ship
passed the island they fall silent. Jack tries to make excuses, and during
Piggy’s protests and lecturing Jack punches him and he falls to the ground.

His specs go flying and one lens breaksthe lenses that made the fire
possible are now broken by Jack. Jack apologizes about the fire, but Ralph
The fire is re-lit and the pig is roasted. Jack hands out portions of meat to all
the boys except Piggy. Simon gives his portion to Piggy and Jack can’t stand
it. The tension is broken and the story of the hunt is re-enacted by the boys.

Maurice pretends to be a pig, while the rest dance and chant around him. This
is the first time the “dance” is preformed. Ralph tells them all that he is calling
an assembly even though it is dark out.
An assembly is called and the group of kids come. Ralph talks about how
they start projects and never finish them. No one is abiding by the rules very
strictly; they don’t gather water in coconuts anymore, nor do they use the
designated places as bathrooms. And of course, there is the matter about the
fire. He tells them that ” …we ought to die before we let fire out.’ ” He tells the
hunters that the fire is more important than a pig. Furthermore, he explains
that, ” Things are breaking up. I don’t understand why. We began well; we
were happy. And then…Then people started getting frightened.’ ”
They are all frightened of the Beast, and the children have been talking about
ita large animal living on the island. The Beast, in reality, is something that
resides in all of the kidsa sort of dangerous evil that must be withheld.

Ralph, from the start, has tried to hold it back by laying down rules and
organizing society. Nonetheless, none of the kids yet realize this, and the
Beast is manifested in their minds as an animal lurking on the island.
Jack argues that he has been everywhere on the island and has never seen a
beast. Piggy gets up and makes a very important speech in which he states
that there isn’t a beast, at least, ” …not with claws, and all that…’ ” Also, “
…there isn’t no fear either…Unless we get frightened of people.’ ”
A littlun comes forward and talks of how he had been dreaming about fighting
the the creepers and saw something “horrid in the forest.” It turns out that the
horrid thing was Simon, who had been returning from the clearing he likes to
be at. Another littlun comes forward, Percival, and explains another type of
beastthe Beast from the water. Again, this is debated. Then, Simon takes
the conch and says something very important. He says that, ” Maybe there is
a beast… What I mean is… maybe it’s only us.’ ” Simon begins to understand
what the Beast really is, but his is jeered at and will be jeered at for the rest of
the novel, until his death.
The debate continues and turns toward talk of the rules. Jack doesn’t know
why Ralph has the right to make rules. He points out that Ralph cannot hunt,
nor can he sing. Ralph counters that he was chosen and that is reason
enough. More arguing ensues, and, “The world, that understandable and lawful
world, was slipping away.” Jack turns against Piggy as well: ” Bullocks to the
rules! We’re strongwe hunt! If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll beat
and beat and beat!’ ” Jack does not like rules and the Beast within him his
beginning to expose itself little by little.
The assembly breaks up and the hunters do their dance once again. The boys
are drifting apart into two distinct groups: those who follow Ralph’s ideas and
those who follow Jack. At the close of the chapter, Ralph, Simon and Piggy
are sitting on the assembly platform listening the cries of the littluns’
Two fighter planes are engaged in a nighttime battle over the islandmore
evidence that the world is at war. One of them is shot down and the pilot bails
out and opens his parachute, but he is already dead. As the victor flies away
the dead man floats to the island only to be caught on the rocks of the
mountain. There he will stay for some days, slowly rotting. Presently, though,
the twins Samneric are on fire duty and have fallen asleep. They wake up,
re-light the fire, and see the “Beast from air” breathing’ in and out. They run to
tell Ralph. As the sun is rising an assembly is called.
The kids all believe that they are now in terrible danger. Jack calls for
volunteers to help him go to the top and kill it. A debate ensues and it is
determined that the Beast does not leave tracks and moves by swinging
through the tree tops, which is why Jack has never seen traces of it. It is
decided that a party of hunters, plus Ralph and Simon, will go to hunt the
Beast. Piggy is left at the beach with the littluns. They will first check the only
place on the island that no one has been to: Castle Rock. If the Beast is not
there then they will check the mountain and re-light the fire.
They trek to the castle and discover that nothing is there. Jack exclaims that
the rock would make a great fort and he and his hunters proceed to push a
boulder into the sea. Ralph breaks up the fun and they start the journey to the
Shadows and Tall Trees
As they make their way to the mountain they stop to eat and rest and Ralph
thinks about how dirty and scraggly they all look. He yearns to have his hair
cut and take a bathrevealing again his character and longing to hold back
They start off and Jack finds traces of a pig. They decide to hunt it. A boar is
found and Ralph wounds him with his spear. He is delighted that he made the
only strike on the animal. The boar gets away and the hunters begin to dance
again, but this time it is a little different. Robert is playing the part of the pig,
but the kids are a slightly out of hand and some of the fake blows to the “pig”
are landing hard. Even Ralph, who previously shunned the dance and chanting
feels that, “…the desire to squeeze and hurt was overmastering.” Here is the
first time we see Ralph having trouble suppressing the Beast.
They continue to the mountain and Simon is sent through the forest to tell
Piggy and the others that the hunting party will not be back before dark. Night
falls as they reach the base of the mountain and the boys argue about
whether or not they should wait until morning to scale it. Jack goes to the top
and comes back down, reporting that he saw something billowing up on top.

They all climb to the summit and see the Beast. Instead of fighting it and
finding out that it is only a man, they run. As they flee, “…the creature lifted
its head, holding toward them a ruin of a face.”
Gift for the Darkness
The tale of the Beast is related to Piggy and the boys must decide what to
do. Ralph tells Jack that they are not armed well enough to kill it. Someone
comments that, ” …now that thing sits by the fire as though it didn’t want us
to be rescued.’ ” Which, in a sense, is what the “real beast” is doing.
Jack calls an assembly by blowing the conch. He tells the group that the
Beast is real; they have seen it. Also, Ralph has called the hunters cowards
and Jack accuses Ralph of being a coward himself. Jack asks the assembly
if any of them think Ralph should not be chief. No one raises their hand. Jack,
in defiance, says, ” All right then… I’m not going to play any longer. Not with
you…I’m not going to be a part of Ralph’s lot.'” Jack feels that survival is a
game to be played and he is fed up with the rules that Ralph deals. He invites
others to come join him and runs off into the forest.
Simon steps forward to propose that they climb the mountain. No one wants
to. Instead, Piggy decides that the signal fire should be moved to the beach,
and the kids start building a fire. The fire is lit, and as the crowd gathers, it is
noticeably smaller. Most of the bigguns have left to go “play” with Jack. The
only bigguns left are Ralph, Piggy, Samneric and Simon.
Simon wonders off to the mat of creepers, while Jack gathers a group of boys
in the forest to teach them how to hunt. They decide that Jack will be chief,
they will forget the Beast, and they will try to take more bigguns away from
They begin to track a pig and and it leads them to Simon’s clearing. A few
pigs are laying around and the group decides to attack a sow and her piglets.

The piglets escape, but the sow is brutally killed. Jack decides to offer the
pig’s head as a gift to the Beast. He orders his new henchman, Roger, to
sharpen a stick at both ends. One end is jammed in the rocky earth and the
other is draped with the head of the sow. Simon climbs from under the
creepers and is confronted with the head.
Later, Jack and his gang raid Ralph’s encampment. They steal a burning log
for their own fire and Jack invites all the boys to come join his tribe at the
feast they are to have that night. As the “savages” leave Ralph comments
about how he wishes he could have fun too, but still the fire is more important
to him. Nonetheless, this importance of the fire and of rescue are drifting away
from Ralph and he must be constantly reminded of it by Piggy. A storm is
building above the island and thunder promises rain.
Back at the clearing Simon is having a “discussion” with the pig’s head. This
discussion is probably mostly in Simon’s head, but Golding uses this
interview as an eerie way to unveil the theme of the novel. Golding now refers
to the fly-covered pig’s head as the “Lord of the Flies.” The Lord of the Flies
asks Simon if he’s afraid of him. It says:
…I am the Beast… Fancy thinking the Beast was something
you could hunt and kill! You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you?
Close, close, close! I’m the reason it’s no go? Why things are
the way they are?’
Although Simon may have known that the Beast was really inside the kids, it
is now confirmed. Now that Simon knows for sure, the Beast warns him not to
tell anyone the truth, otherwise he will be killed..

The storm keeps boiling over the island, possibly representing the turmoil that
is occurring below it. Simon regains consciousness and heads for the
mountain. He sees the rotting airman and realizes the Beast is “harmless and
horrible,” which, in reality is true. If the boys choose to suppress the Beast it
is harmless, or they can let it run rampant. Simon makes his way to the
beach to tell the other boys.
Piggy and Ralph have decided to go to the pig roast, just to see what is going
to happen. All of the other boys are already there, except Simon, and they fall
silent as the two outcasts approached. They are both given portions of meat
as Jack begins a speech. He asks who will join his tribe. Ralph
interruptstrying to persuade the boys to help him keep the fire going. The
crowd of boys instead agree to join Jack, who promises to give them meat
and keep them safe from the Beast.
The storm breaks and the rain comes down with lightning and thunder. Ralph
is asking them what they’re going to do without shelters and Jack orders
them to begin the dance. As they chant around Roger, who is playing the pig,
Piggy and Ralph “…found themselves eager to take place in this demented
but partly secure society.” The boys in the dance are armed with clubs and
spits and are getting out of hand again with this game.
A figure is crawling out of the forest and the ring opens to let it inside.

Mistaken as the Beast by the Jack’s tribe, Simon is beaten to death. The
group disbands for shelter from the storm. On top of the mountain wind fills
the parachute of the airman and lifts him away from the island. As the storm
subsides and the tide moves in and out, Simon’s body is washed to sea.
The Shell and the Glasses
It is the next morning and the only boys still in Ralph’s confidence are Piggy
and Samneric. The twins are in the forest collecting firewood while Ralph and
Piggy discuss Simon’s murder and what they are going to do next. Piggy
tries to make excuses for the boys by claiming it was an accident, but Ralph
doesn’t buy into that.
On Castle Rock Jack (now continually painted) has created a fortification that
is constantly guarded. If, for whatever reason they need to defend themselves,
Roger has placed a lever underneath a large boulder that will send it smashing
onto the rock bridge that conects the fort to the mainland. Jack has begun to
rule by force and the kids who are out of line are tied up and beaten. He
decides the tribe will hunt again tomorrow. Although some of them realize
they have killed Simon it is sensed that they are trying to it cover up by
convincing themselves they really just hurt the disguised beast.
Back at the lagoon Ralph and the rest are agonizing over trying to keep the
fire going. Again, Ralph must constantly be reminded by Piggy that the fire is
“Something overwhelmingly good.” Ralph tells the protesting twins that “
Anyone can play at hunting, anyone can get us meat’ “; anyone can buy
into the irresponsible and harmful desires within them, but it is not easy to
hold them at bay. They decide to leave the fire unlit for the night, and retire to
the rickety shelters.
During the night they awake to noises outside and they are afraid the Beast
has come for them, but is only Jack and his tribe searching to steal fire. Not
finding a lit fire they charge into the shelter and in the violent fight that ensues,
Piggy’s specs are stolen. They have now been stripped of the ability to make
fire and the only symbol of society and order that is left to them is the conch.
At day break the four plundered and bruised boys try to ignite any smoldering
ashes left in the fire, but it is dead. In desperation Ralph calls an assembly.

Only the four boys plus some littluns attend. Ralph speculates that maybe if
they try to comb their hair, and look decent they could go to Jack to ask for
the specs, ” after all we aren’t savages really and being rescued isn’t a
game’ ” Piggy agrees to this idea and talks about Simon’s murder and the
death of the littlun in the first fire:
What can he do more than he already has? I’ll tell him what’s
what. You let me carry the conch, Ralph. I’ll show him the one
thing he hasn’t got.’
As they get ready they eat, Samneric are afraid to go because Jack will be
painted. They set off; with Ralph and the twins carrying spears and Piggy the
conch, being led because he cannot see with out his specs.
They reach Castle Rock and Ralph steps out onto the neck of land leading to
it with Piggy just behind, and the twins after him. Roger, the guard, orders
them to halt and Ralph blows the conch. He tells the savages that he is
calling an assembly. Jack emerges from the forest behind him with his
hunters and the carcass of a pig. Ralph demands the specs to be returned
and the tribe laughs at him.
Ralph and Jack fight each other briefly using spears as sabers. Jack gets
between Ralph and the rock and orders the twins captured. Some kids come
out to tie up Samneric and Ralph has had enough; Jack and Ralph charge
each other and begin fighting again. Piggy stands up and yells for them to
stop and listen to him. Surprisingly, the crowd is silent and Piggy, holding the
conch, asks, ” Which is betterto have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?
Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?’ ” During
this speech, the tribe, bearing spears, has formed along the far side of the
rock bridge intending to charge.
A great yell goes up and Roger heaves on the lever. The huge boulder totters
and crashes onto the bridge. Ralph ducks out of the way, but the blind Piggy
does not move. As the boulder strikes him the conch explodes “…into a
thousand white fragments…” Piggy falls forty feet to his death on the rocks
below. Jack feels no sympathy and warns Ralph that that’s what he’ll get. The
tribe charges and Ralph is running, crashing through the forest. The pursuit
does not last long and Jack orders the crowd back to the fort. Ralph is free,
for the time being.
Night falls and Ralph stays close to Castle Rock. Samneric, now savages,
have been stationed as guards. Ralph crosses the bridge and scales the
tower to talk to them. They tell Ralph that Jack and the tribe are going to hunt
him tomorrow. The plan is that the kids will make a line stretching from one
shore of the island to the other and they will slowly advance until they find
him. When Ralph asks what they will do when he is caught, the twins reply, “
Roger has sharpened a stick at both ends,’ ” but Ralph does not attach
meaning to this. He tells Samneric that he plans to hide in the thicket near
Castle Rock, thinking that Jack will not look so close to the fort.
Ralph wakes up the next morning and the twins have been forced to confess
where Ralph is hiding. The tribe tries to roll another boulder from the castle to
land in Ralph’s thicket, but they just barely miss him. A savage tries to crawl
through the branches to see if Ralph is still there and gets the business end
of a spear. They set the thicket on fire and Ralph runs into the forest as the
line of savages spreads out to begin the sweep of the island.
Deciding that the best option is to hide, Ralph finds the place where Simon
used to stay and hunkers down. As the line of savages advances the entire
island behind them is burning, but they only seek to catch and kill Ralph. The
line reaches his hiding spot and Roger peeks under to look. Ralph charges
him and runs to the beach, the tribe pursuing. He runs past the burning
shelters right into a Navy officer.
Ironically, the massive fire and smoke enabled the ship to see them. As the
boys gather around, the officer comments on how it must be all be fun and
games. Some of the boys are crying, realizing what they’ve done. The officer
sees the spears and asks, ” We saw your smoke. What have been doing?
Having a war or something?’ ” He learns that two children have been killed and
they are taken off the island to the waiting cruiser. As they are taken away,
“…Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the
fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.”
Discussion of Theme
Lord of the Flies has more than one “theme,” or meaning, but the overall and
most important one is that the conditions of life within society are closely
related to the moral integrity of its individual members. In Golding’s own
The theme is an attempt to trace the defects of society back to
the defects of human nature. The moral is that the shape of a
society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and
not on any political system however apparently logical or
respectable. The whole book is symbolic in nature except the
rescue in the end where adult life appears, dignified and
capable, but in reality enmeshed in the same evil as the
symbolic life of the children on the island. The officer, having
interrupted a man-hunt, prepares to take the children off the
island in a cruiser which will presently be hunting its enemy in
the same implacable way. And who will rescue the adult and his
In the novel, Golding seems to show the reader that this “ethical nature” is not
inherent in mankind. Indeed, there is a certain capacity for evil that resides in
man; his morality is simply superficial. Nonetheless, it is this moral integrity
that must prevail in order for him to be ethical and thus for society to be
maintained. Without this suppression society caves in upon itself (as seen in
the book), lawlessness reins and life becomes a free-for-all.
Although this is the main idea of the story, others exist underneath it. The
most prominent of these, probably, is the fact that often times people single
out another person, or another group of people to look down upon in order to
feel secure. Piggy’s character personifies this societal flaw, as he is always
shunned and made fun of.
Discussion of Symbolism
First, it must be understood that the boys’ lives on the island represent a
world-wide society. Although one cannot be sure of Golding’s motives for
choosing the island setting, it was probably because it works best to have the
characters isolated, where the laws of their governments cannot reach them.

Also, why did Golding choose children instead of adolescents, or even adults?
Most likely because children have not yet been fully conditioned by society to
understand right from wrong, and thus in this ignorance, most of them are
guided by their instinct and what is inherent within them. If older, more
knowledgeable characters were chosen, the events of the novel may not occur
With that being said, here is a list of the symbols used in the novel and their
significance to the theme, and each other:
The Beast as a Symbol
The Beast is the evil that resides within man. The children were all aware that
such a beast exists, but none of them realized (except Simon) that it lies
within them. Manifested in three forms throughout the story, the Beast
constantly plagues the littlunsthe least conditioned by society.
Ralph represents law, order, organized society and
moral integrity. Throughout the novel he is constantly
making commonsense rules for the boys to follow.

As chief, he knows right from wrong. At the end of
the novel he too realizes that man is not a kind
creature by nature. Anarchy finally hunts down
society in the end, but Golding does not let us know
Jack (and his tribe) represent anarchy. Jack did not
have the integrity to keep the Beast at bay. He is
the perpetrator of all three deaths that occur on the
island and wishes to spend his time hunting (killing)
instead of helping Ralph with rescue
Piggy symbolizes knowledge and morality. Without
Piggy to help Ralph it is very possible that Ralph
may have lost sight of things and given in to the
Beast. Jack, who, throughout the novel
systematically removes the forces opposing him, is
scornfully afraid of Piggy and eventually kills him to
eliminate his moral influence on the group, which
conflicts with his plan to rule with a triibalistic, survivalist moraliy.
The Conch as a Symbol
The Conch is a symbol of the high hand of authority. Used to call meetings, it
is magical to the boys, who for the most part respect it. In the end, when it is
destroyed, authority on the island is gone and Ralph is left to fend for himself.
The Signal Fire as a Symbol
The Signal Fire is a representation of commonsense and
rescue from immorality. When the signal fire can no longer
be lit, because Jack stole Piggy’s specs that light it, its
beacon of hope and knowledge is no longer present to guide
Ralph who must then be constantly reminded by Piggy
about what is right.
Piggy’s Specs as a Symbol
Piggy’s Specs although not a clear symbol in the
novel, their being first broken, then stolen by Jack,
shows a slow and inescapable descent into anarchy
and evil.
The Lord of the Flies as a
The Lord of the Flies represents the Beast’s danger and
power. According to E. L. Epstein, “…lord of the flies’ is a
translation of the Hebrew Ba’alzevuv (Beelzebub in Greek).

It has been suggested that is was a mistranslation of a
mistransliterated word…for the Devil…” In the story the
panic and decay that takes place is symbolized by this
pig’s head. In its talk’ with Simon it explains what the
Beast really is.


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