Summary and Analysis of Lord of the Flies

The novel “Lord of the Flies,” written by William Golding, is well-known. This book marks the beginning of the author’s career, later being recognized by a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1983. The novel is about two young boys stranded on an uninhabited piece of land after a plane crash. They try to survive and bring order into their lives throughout the entire text. Despite their excellent upbringings, the children quickly descend into savagery and primitivism when they are cut off from civilization. This “novel about youngsters on the island,” as it is affectionately known by its readers, was first published in 1954. Because of its worldwide popularity, the book was adapted into a film twice: once in Britain by Peter Brooke and Lewis Allen in 1963, and once in the United States by Harry Hook and Lewis Allen in 1990. The novel contains numerous references to an earlier book, “The Coral Island,” written by Robert Michael Ballantyne in 1857. Both texts hold a prominent place in the canon of juvenile fiction literature.

 

Overview: Lord of the Flies in a Nutshell

 

Lord of the Flies Characters

The protagonists of “Lord of the Flies” are a group of adolescent males. Before the text begins, we assume that the airplane passengers were being evacuated from Great Britain due to war (it is unclear which war). Except for the choir boys led by Jack, most of them had never met before landing on the island. The three major characters – Ralph, Jack, and Piggy – demonstrate the wide range of human behaviours to the emergency situation. While some try to remain rational and reason to survive, others succumb to natural animal instincts and go wild.

Ralph is the main character whose point of view is most often heard by the readers; he is tall, fair-haired, and not particularly talkative. He is intelligent, enjoys order, and is initially recognized as the group’s leader. He is one of the few characters who maintain order and civilization without succumbing to savagery. Unfortunately, when the other boys go entirely insane, they hunt him down, and he flees for his life until he meets a naval officer on the beach.

Ralph’s right hand is Piggy. He is intelligent and quick-witted, but his excessive weight and other physical limitations prevent him from joining the hunters. He is a source of comfort for Ralph during his darkest moments when the hunters’ rude behaviour causes Ralph to consider stepping down as the boys’ leader. Piggy is the one who proposes building a solar clock, demonstrating his practicality and sharp mind. His glasses are an essential tool for starting and maintaining the rescue fire. He tragically dies while reclaiming his stolen glasses from Jack and his hunters.

Jack Merridew is a well-mannered young man who used to direct a local school choir. When he arrives on the island, he becomes dissatisfied with the absence of the adults. He, on the other hand, swiftly abandons his “good boy” image, seizes command of the hunt, and actively challenges Ralph’s position of authority. He has a strong desire to dominate others and a strong desire to see other living creatures suffer.

Roger is a typical bully who has finally been given unlimited opportunities to express his inner violence and rage without fear of punishment. He enjoys harassing others by using his position as a hunter. He is the one who launches a massive rock off Castle Rock, killing Piggy. Toward the end of the book, his rage spirals out of control, and even the reader wonders if Jack has any control over this rogue, bloodthirsty adolescent.

Samneric is the name of two characters: identical twins Sam and Eric. The boys are so inseparable that, as Piggy says in Chapter 8, “you have to treat Samneric as one turn.” They do everything as a group.” These characters represent contemporary youth’s inability to grow and develop their personalities. They are typical followers who support with the leader – whether it is Ralph at first or Jack later.

Simon is one of the more nuanced and humane characters. He enjoys assisting others and learning about the world around him. His soft and inherent personality makes him an ideal prey for the hunters’ rage. Based on his behaviour, he most likely has epilepsy. He has conversations in his head with the pig’s head, which he refers to as the Lord of the Flies, and these conversations confirm his suspicions that beasts are living inside him and his friends. Simon is the first character to perish at the hands of the rogue hunters.

The Beast is a mysterious creature that no one has ever seen, but everyone is terrified of. During the second general meeting, the younger boys are the first to bring him up. The older boys initially convince everyone that there are no beasts on the island. They then believe that the Beast is the body of a dead parachutist who landed on the island. It represents the group’s primal fear and wild emotions. The boys are terrified of the Beast while also fascinated by it. Ralph is undermined by Jack’s use of the beast concept: he promises to find and kill the Beast. Simon is killed during a ritual hunting dance when no one can see him clearly, so the children treat him like an animal.

The naval officer commands the marines who arrive to rescue the boys. Such a character is one of the novel’s key references, as there is an officer with a very similar description. When he sees the boys’ deplorable living conditions, he sarcastically says the name “Coral Island.”

 

“Lord of the Flies” Study Guide: Important Information

  • The novel was written in response to Robert Michael Ballantyne’s book “The Coral Island,” published in 1857. However, in “Lord of the Flies,” events take a completely different turn.
  • The younger children are the first to notice a mysterious “beastie” (Chapter 2) on the island, and the older boys mock them. In the end, it was revealed that some of the older boys were the feared monsters.
  • Simon is the one who bestows the moniker “Lord of the Flies” on the pig’s head mounted on a stick.
  • It’s unclear how many boys were on the island in “Lord of the Flies.” Two of them, Piggy and Simon, were killed by the hunters’ rage.
  • The text’s language contains a lot of teen slang, making it even more realistic. The younger children are referred to as “littluns” because they “talk and scream.” “The little ones.” (Chapter 3) and the older boys were referred to as “biguns.”
  • The main themes of “Lord of the Flies” are the role of civilization, the integrity of the human soul, and value equivocation. This text is an excellent source for essays on friendship, the complex process of becoming a young man, civil order, and mental reactions to adversity.

 

Analysis and summary of “Lord of the Flies.”

The chapter summaries for all 12 chapters of “Lord of the Flies” show the boys’ gradual descent into madness as they are isolated from civilization. Because the author does not include dates in the book’s chapters, it is unclear how long the boys lived on the island. Perhaps the 12 chapters refer to the 12 months of the year—but this is just speculation. The text contains a lot of monologues, which make it easy to read. The characters’ hidden instincts, which are critical symbols in “Lord of the Flies,” unfold in the pages chapter by chapter, demonstrating that people can adapt all too well to the absence of external constraints.

 

Chapter 1 Synopsis: The Sound of the Shell

The story begins on the island, where two boys, Ralph and Piggy, discuss the plane crash that brought them here. Piggy is skeptical that anyone will come to their aid because he heard something about an atomic bomb during the flight, leading him to believe that the entire world has been destroyed and that they are all alone. The boys talk a bit of themselves, with Ralph mentioning that his father is “a commander in the Navy.” He’ll come and rescue us when he gets home” (Chapter 1). Piggy is the polar opposite of Ralph, stating, “I used to live with my auntie.” She ran a candy shop. I used to get a lot of candies. “As many as I wanted” (Chapter 1). He’s chubby, has asthma, and doesn’t know how to swim.

 

Summary of Chapter 3: Beach Huts

During the early days, Ralph’s only policies were to survive, have fun, and keep the Fire going while waiting for a rescue mission. The boys meet regularly, but no one seems to work too hard:

  • Jack hunts alone.
  • Swimming is a more popular pastime for the choir boys than working.
  • The younger kids hang out on the beach and eat fruits.

The boys quickly realize that fruits and wild pigs are their only food sources. Simon puts in the most effort to build shelters because he is kind, soft, and protective of the younger children. Meanwhile, Piggy is subjected to increased bullying from the ex-choir hunters:

 

Chapter 4 Synopsis: Painted Faces and Long Hair

Discipline was lacking on the island from the start, and the remnants of establishing order were quickly lost. The boys roamed the island, lazing away their days. With all of their free time, they began to notice strange things in the woods. The thought of a beast hiding somewhere grew in their heads. Ralph continued to appeal to the kids’ logic, but Jack took advantage of the situation to undermine his rival. Jack stoked their fears by promising to find and kill the Beast to keep everyone safe.

Jack gathers all the hunters and sends them out to explore the island, searching for pigs and beasts. This meant that no one was paying attention to the signal fire on top of the mountain. Jack, Bill, Sam, and Eric discover a river with white and red clay on their hunting trips. Jack smears the clay on his face.

The hunters then slaughter their first pig and bring it back to camp. During this time, a ship passes by the island but does not stop because there is no smoke to signal for help. The loss of the Fire causes Ralph to feel depressed, whilst Jack is overjoyed because of his hunting success. This leads to their first significant point of contention. Piggy attempts to express his support for Ralph, which enrages Jack to the end of breaking one of Piggy’s glasses.

 

Chapter 5 Synopsis: The Water Beast

Ralph calls another meeting and reiterates the rules:

  • The Fire must be kept burning at all times.
  • The toilet must be kept in a single location.
  • All food must be prepared on the Fire at the top of the mountain.

As the tensions between the boys rise, the younger children continue to complain about the Beast. Percival, one of the boys, asserts that the Beast is a creature of the water. It becomes increasingly difficult to persuade them that the Beast is a figment of their imagination.

 

Chapter 7: The Shadows of the Tall Trees

On their way to the mountain top, Jack decides to hunt something because, as Roger points out, “we need meat even if we’re hunting the other thing” (Chapter 7). They come across a boar. Ralph throws a rock at it, the animal, on the other hand, manages to get away. In the midst of the hunt, one of the boys, Robert, begins to imitate the pig while the rest of the group plays the hunters. They form a circle around Robert and yell.

Ralph, Roger, and Jack climb the mountain in the middle of the night after the massive and violent ritual. They come across the body of the deceased pilot, who is still clinging to the tree branches with his evacuation parachute. Because of their intense emotions, they convince themselves that the dead man is the Beast, and the three of them flee back to their camp as quickly as they can.

 

Synopsis of Chapter 8: Gift for the Darkness

Ralph, Roger, and Jack climb the mountain in the middle of the night after the massive and violent ritual. They come across the body of the deceased pilot, who is still clinging to the tree branches with his evacuation parachute. Because of their intense emotions, they convince themselves that the dead man is the Beast, and the three of them flee back to their camp as quickly as they can.

However, when the boys refuse to replace Ralph with Jack, the enraged hunter flees into the woods to form his tribe with the other choir boys. Every day, Jack tries to entice other boys to join his clan by promising them feasts with delectable pig meat. Bill, Roger, and Maurice eventually join the hunters. The boys now refer to Jack as “chief” and hunt anything alive on the island. They believe they will be safe as long as they leave something to kill and eat for the Beast. They kill a giant pig during one of their hunts. Jack props their head up on a stick.

Simon observes the hunters from a secluded location for himself in the middle of the woods. He names the mounted pig’s head, surrounded by insects, the “Lord of the Flies.” Simon starts hearing the pig’s voice in his head. The Lord of the Flies tells Simon that the Beast resides within each of the boys and that his life is in danger. Simon faints when he hears that. Ralph and Piggy eventually decide to attend one of Jack’s feasts.

 

A View to a Death (Chapter 9) Synopsis

Over the island, a large storm begins to brew. Simon decides to climb the mountain and confront the Beast directly. He notices the dead parachutist and removes the straps from the body. When the boy realizes there is no beast, he rushes back to tell everyone the good news. Simultaneously, Ralph and Jack have another argument about who is the authority on the island. Ralph is adamant that he was democratically elected as their leader. In response, Jack, who has a clay mask on his face, begins a ritual dance while singing his favorite song:

Terrified of the storm, the boys are also scared of going hungry and being hunted by the fictitious Beast, so they join Jack in his savage dance. Unfortunately, Simon arrives at the camp at the height of their insanity. All the boys saw was a dark figure approaching from the woods; they quickly surrounded the figure, ignored all cries from some man’ on the hill, and killed the creature with their sticks. When the insanity subsides, everyone realizes Simon is no longer alive. During the storm, the parachutist’s body is blown off the island and away from the survivors.

 

Synopsis of Chapter 10: The Shell and the Glasses

Piggy tries to justify Simon’s cruel murder in Chapter 10: The Shell and the Glasses. On the other hand, Ralph realized that the boys had crossed a line and that there was no turning back. Ralph, Piggy, the Samneric twins, and a few other boys are the only ones who haven’t joined the hunters. These young men are determined to keep the Fire burning on the island since it is their only hope of being rescued and living to see another day. The glasses that were used to start the Fire are stolen from their shelters by Jack one night when they are sleeping in their beds.

 

Summary of Chapter 11: Castle Rock

The hunters now live in a rock cave resembling a castle, hence Castle Rock. Ralph, the twins, and Piggy make the decision to travel to the location in order to reclaim Piggy’s glasses from Jack. The boys prepare as much for a fight, carrying spears, tying their hair back, and carrying the conch shell. Because Piggy can’t see anything without his glasses, Ralph instructs him to kneel and remain behind as they approach Castle Rock. A brawl breaks out. Roger begins throwing stones from the mountain’s summit. Ralph is stabbed with a spear by Jack. And Ralph tries to persuade the hunters to be reasonable and work together to start the Fire.

 

Synopsis of Chapter 12: Cry of the Hunters

Ralph flees the hunters; “the bruised flesh was inches in diameter over his right ribs, with a swollen and bloody scar where the spear had struck him” (Chapter 12). He realizes that Jack will not abandon him now. Sam and Eric are beaten until they submit to Jack’s authority as chief. During a secret meeting, Samneric warns Ralph that hunters will start looking for him around the entire island the next day. Ralph’s head is being mounted on a stick as a new tribute to the Beast by the hunters. To force the twins to reveal Ralph’s hiding place, the boys torture them and set fire to the woods searching for their adversary.

When The hunters apprehend ralph, he runs into a man on the beach. The man is a naval officer who is taken aback by all of the boys who have been painted in clay and are running around with spears. As a result of the hunters’ Fire, the sky over the island turns black. The officer believes the boys are playing war games.

 

“Lord of the Flies” Symbolism

Piggy’s Glasses represent civilization. The boys use them to start their first Fire. During his first fight with Ralph, Jack breaks Piggy’s glasses, which is symbolic. This represents the beginning of the island’s uncivilized era. Piggy is killed while attempting to recover his stolen Glasses.

In Chapter 1, the Conch Shell was used to call the first meeting. During the next meeting in Chapter 2, Ralph realizes the importance of keeping the group organized. As a result, the kids agree that whoever is given the conch will speak at the meeting.

The Pig’s Head is the most straightforward answer to the question, “What is the Lord of the Flies?” It represents primal instincts, the importance of basic needs over spiritual needs, and logic. It’s also worth noting that the pig’s head was treated as a tribute to another fictitious beast said to live on the island. As a result, it has double symbolism in “Lord of the Flies” – it represents the boys’ wild temperaments, but it’s also the source that feeds on their internal fears and causes them to do even more crazy things.

The boys use the War Paint to conceal their actions. The hunters paint their faces with clay. Initially, it’s an attempt to look like the hunters they’ve seen in movies, but the war paint soon becomes their mask. It symbolizes the difference between how they were on the island and back home in Britain.

Uncontrolled Fire appears in a few chapters of the book. The boys’ first attempt to start a fire causes it to spread throughout the woods. Finally, the boys set fire to the entire island to smoke Ralph out. It represents lost hope as well as internal and external destruction. It vividly demonstrates how easily things that grow and develop over time can be ruined.

 

Lord of the Flies Themes

“Lord of the Flies” central theme is civilization versus savagery. The book’s author was intrigued by the nature of “animal” instincts in humans and the extent to which evolution has suppressed them. He demonstrates that, despite centuries of development, men are still vulnerable to degradation once the pressures of civilization are removed. The boys quickly abandon their civil masks, follow their wild temperaments, and embark on their journeys to become a primitive tribal community.

Youngness and the loss of innocence Initially, following the plane crash, the boys are ecstatic to be free of adults who rule their lives and enjoy their unexpected freedom. The author demonstrates that youth’s instinct is to seek adult guidance first and then, once they realize they are on their own, to enjoy the ability to rule themselves. However, the circumstances of living on a wild island and the need to survive quickly force the youth to mature. The boys promptly transform from gentlemen to cavemen.

Fear and the nature of evil pervade the entire “Lord of the Flies” summary. It starts with a fear of being alone without adults, then a fear of a mysterious beast, and finally a fear of themselves. On the island, fear eventually becomes their guiding instinct. When the boys’ civilized nature begins to deteriorate, and their civilized nature is lost, fear and hunger become the decision-making force in their minds. The text’s central message is that evil lives within us and that no one else can help us make peace with it.

Religion and power. Toward the end of the book, power is concentrated in the hands of those who can demonstrate physical force, provide food on the table, and protect their followers from real and imagined threats. Their only religion is force, and their only genuine emotion is rage.