Lord of the flies
Chapter one: The sound of the shell Two boys, who have survived a plane crash, meet on the beach of an island. One of them called Ralph is a normal kid, the other one, called Piggy, is a fat boy who suffers from asthma and wears thick glasses. Piggy thinks that there are other boys alive and he wants to organise them. The two boys find a conch, a large sea-shell, and Piggy suggests that Ralph should blow it in order to call any other survivors for a meeting. After Ralph has blown the conch a large group of boys arrive. There turns out to be a choir, under the leadership of Jack, who orders the others around. There appears to be no adults on the island. When they want to elect a chief, Jack thinks he should be chosen, but Ralph is elected because it is he who holds the conch. Ralph tells Jack that he can still be the leader of the choir and that they can be the hunters. It's decided that Ralph, Jack and Simon will go exploring to find out if they are on a island. Piggy wants to come too, but is sent back to get the names of all the boys. Ralph, Jack and Simon enjoy their expedition and when they reach the top they see that they are indeed on an island. On the way down they come across a wild piglet caught in the bushes. Jack wants to kill it, but cannot stick his knife in the living creature, so the piglet gets away.
Chapter two: Fire on the mountain
In the afternoon Ralph blows the conch again to call another meeting. He tells the boys they are on an uninhabited island. The problem of rescue is brought up because nobody knows where they are. They feel they are on a good island: there is fruit to eat and good water to drink. One of the little boys says that he has seen a beast in the night and is afraid it will come again. Ralph assures him there is no beast and Jack says the hunters will kill it. Ralph suggests that they should build a fire on the mountain as a signal to any passing ship. Jack and his hunters collect wood and build a huge fire. When Piggy arrives Jack snatches his glasses to use them starting the fire. Piggy tells the boys they have made a mistake the fire is to big to keep it going and it doesn't produce any smoke. Jack volunteers his choir boys as a rotating team to keep the fire going and watch for ships. Then the boys see that their fire has set the woods on fire. Soon a big part of the island is burning. Piggy tells them they should build shelters for the night. As they watch the flames, the boys realise one of the littluns was still down there and has been caught in the flames. They don't know how many boys are in the fire because they haven't been counted. They see a tree explode in the fire. The boys think the burning creepers that shoot up in the air are snakes.
Chapter three: Huts on the beach
Several days have passed. Jack and his hunters have not succeeded in killing any pigs, so the boys have only eaten fruit. Jack is obsessed with his desire to kill an animal. Meanwhile Ralph and Simon are the only ones who are working on the huts; only two are finished. Ralph explains to Jack that he huts are needed to protect them from bad weather, but also because some of the littluns are suffering from nightmares and need a sort of a home on the island. When Ralph speaks of rescue Jack can hardly remember what it means. Simon goes off by himself to a clearing in the jungle, and hides under a mat of creepers while he watches and waits.
Chapter four: Painted faces and long hair
The boys get used to life on the island. Although there are no adults on the island the bigger boys are still under influence of their upbringing. The little boys are openly cruel to each other. Jack has still not been able to kill a pig, but he has an idea: using red and with clay he paints his face, feeling that now the pigs won't be able to see him. The group of hunters go into the jungle to kill some pigs. Meanwhile Ralph, Simon and Maurice are swimming. Piggy is with them but he can't swim. Suddenly they see a passing ship. The boys are very happy until Piggy makes them look at the signal fire on the mountain and they discover there is none. Ralph and the others climb the mountain and find the fire dead and abandoned. At that moment they see the hunters return from their hunt. They carry a dead pig singing 'Kill the pig, cut her throat, spill her blood'. The hunters want to tell their story, but Ralph tells them about the ship and the dead fire. When Piggy cries about the lost change of rescue, Jack hits him in the stomach and then on his head so that his glasses fall of. One lens is broken. Ralph, for once, is loyal to Piggy and tells Jack: 'That was a dirty trick'. Jack apologises for the fire, they rebuild it, then roast the meat and eat it. Finally the hunters can tell their story of how they surrounded a pig and beat it to death. They play the killing again in a kind of a dance, with Maurice pretending to be the pig and the others pretending to beat him.
Chapter five: Beast from Water
While Ralph is preparing the assembly he has called, he is for the first aware of how dirty he and how disordered his life is. He thinks about Piggy and respects his ability to think rationally. At the assembly Ralph speaks about the rules and all the things that have gone wrong: boys don't keep to the assigned places for toilets, they don't keep up their work on the huts and now they have even let the fire go out. Then he brings up the main thing he thinks is breaking up the organisation: everyone seems frightened. Then Jack takes the conch and tells about a 'beast' that the littluns say they have seen. The older boys claim that there is no beast on the island, but a little boy tells that he saw something moving outside the hut in the night. It was probably Simon on his way to his secret hiding place. Another littlun tells that he thinks the beast comes from the sea. Even some of the bigger boys think this might be possible. Ralph sees that the whole meeting is leading into chaos and to control it again he blows the conch. Simon suggests 'maybe it's only us', meaning on the evil within themselves, but everyone laughs at him, so he gives up. Soon Ralph loses control of the meeting. Most of the boys follow Jack to the beach where they do their pig-killing dance again. Ralph thinks it might be a good idea to give the leadership to Jack, but Piggy protests that it's only Ralph's authority that protects him against Jack, Simon agrees. They wish there was a grown-up on the island.
Chapter six: Beast from Air
That night a battle is fought above the island and a dead man with a parachute drops down near the top of the mountain. When Samneric who guard the fire see the bulge of the parachute they are sure it's the beast. They run to the huts and wake Ralph and Piggy. In the morning an assembly is held. Jack remembers there is one unexplored end of the island and that it may be the shelter of the beast. They decide that the bigger boys go there. When they arrive at 'the Castle' Ralph as the leader has to go on alone. At first he afraid but soon he realises he doesn't really expect any beast. Following a narrow path round the cliff he finds a cave. Soon after he makes sure there is no beast Jack and the others join him. They want to stay and play there, but Ralph insists to go back to the mountain so the signal fire can be lit again.
Chapter seven: Shadows and Tall Trees
The exploring continues along the other side of the island, where Ralph has never been. Ralph spends much time daydreaming about his former life, the ponies and the books in his bedroom. When they run into a boar Ralph wounds it with his wooden spear. Even though the boar gets away he feels proud. They do a pig-killing dance then and for the first time Ralph joins the game. He wants to hurt Robert who is playing the pig. Robert is hurt but not too badly. When they reach a cliff they can't pass they have to make a decision. Ralph wants to finish the exploring, but it will mean they cannot get back to the huts before dark, and he finds it cruel to leave Piggy alone with the littluns. Someone most go back and tell him that no beast has been found. Simon volunteers. When it's getting dark Ralph decides it would be better to go back after all and come back the next day. Jack accuses him of being afraid. Most of the boys go back but Ralph, can't ignore Jack's challenge and climbs the mountain in the dark together with Jack and Roger. This is the burnt side of the mountain. Partly up the slope Ralph and Roger decide to wait while Jack goes up alone. Soon he is back, frightened, saying he saw something bulge on the mountain. It seems a strange description of a beast, but when they see it themselves they are also terrified by the sight of some horrible creature lifting its head.
Chapter eight: Gift for the Darkness
The next morning the mood on the island is depressed. The beast on the mountain makes it impossible to keep the fire going which is their only hope of rescue. Ralph humiliates Jack by saying his hunters are 'just boys with sticks'. Jack is angry and calls a meeting in which he openly challenges Ralph position as leader. Because no one will vote against Ralph, Jack disappears alone into the forest. Summoning all his courage Simon suggests to climb the mountain and face the beast, but no one agrees with him. Piggy suggests to build a fire on the beach. When the fire is lit it is a comfort to everyone. Then Ralph notices that all the hunters have slipped away to join Jack. The hunters find a big sow and in an orgy of lust and violence they kill it with their sticks. Roger sharpens a stick at both ends and sticks it in the ground with the sow's head on it as an offering to the beast. Simon is secretly watching the hunters from his secret hiding place. Ralph is depressed by the fact that the others don't realise the importance of the fire. As he sits next to fire with Piggy some hunters come up and take some burning branches they need to roast the their pig. Jack invites everyone to share the feast and to join him. When the hunters have left Ralph calls a meeting of the boys still loyal to him, but he is losing his mind and keeps forgetting why the fire is so important. Meanwhile Simon is still in the clearing which is now infested by flies buzzing about the sow's head which Simon sees as the Lord of the flies. The head seems to be looking at Simon and speaking to him. It tells him what he already knew: the beast is nothing that can be hunted and killed, but comes from within the boys themselves. It is part of them.
Chapter 9: A view to a Death
Towards the evening, when Simon awakes he decides to climb the mountain by himself. He finds the that man entangled in the parachute covered by flies. He disentangles the parachute lines and sees the boys that are down at Jack's new camp. He decides to go there too and to tell them what he has found out about the beast.
Because everyone else has gone to Jack, Ralph and Piggy go their too. Jack is presiding like a god and orders to give them some meat. Again he invites everyone to join his tribe. But when the rain begins the boys realise they have no huts to sleep in on this side of the island. To distract their attention Jack calls for a pig-killing dance. In the face of the coming storm the dance is comforting; even Ralph and Piggy take part. The dance is still going on when Simon arrives and tries to tell them about the beast. Entering the circle of dancers he becomes the pig and everyone attacks him until he lies dead on the beach. In the morning his body is carried out to the sea by the tide.
Chapter 10: The Shell and the Glasses
In the morning Ralph and Piggy realise what has happened and feel ashamed of their part. Piggy tries to justify it as an accident. Samneric the only other biguns in Ralph's group pretend they were not at the dance. Jack has established himself with his tribe in the cave at Castle Rock. The narrow path is defended by a guard. Jack has had one boy tied up and beaten without explaining why. With the others he plants to hunt and steal fire from Ralph's camp. Meanwhile Ralph group is doing their best to keep the fire going; they want it for comfort as well as a signal. They daydream about rescue and a return to the civilised world. But Piggy cannot carry wood because of his asthma, and it's too much work for the boys so they have to let it go out before they go to bed. That night Ralph is awakened by Piggy who has heard a noise. He is afraid that it is the beast, but it is Jack and his hunters. Since the fire that they wanted to steal was out, they attack the shelter and steal Piggy's glasses. The shelter is ruined.
Chapter 11: Castle Rock
With their fire out and Piggy almost blind the situation seems hopeless. Ralph finds it increasingly difficult to remember the reason for the importance of the fire. Piggy places his faith in the conch and plans to appeal to Jack to return his glasses. The four boys go to Castle Rock. At Castle Rock they are challenged by a guard of painted savages. While they're standing there Jack returns from the hunt with a dead pig. Ralph demands to give Piggy's glasses and calls Jack a thief. They fight until Piggy reminds Ralph what they are there for. Then Jack orders to capture Sam and Eric and tie them up. Ralph is helpless to prevent them but he attacks Jack anyway. They fight again until they are interrupted by the voice of Piggy. He holds the conch and, amazingly everyone is silent to hear what he has to say. He appeals to them to choose for the sensible rule of Ralph.
Ralph: Ralph is the main character, from whose point of view most of the story is told. He is a boy of good will who has a sense of responsibility, he believes in democracy. In the beginning the boys chose him as their leader. Ralph is an innocent boy, he can hardly imagine that others have different values than he has. Ralph misses the civilised life more than anyone else. He misses his books and the order of the adult world. In the book we learn little about his past life. When things begin to wrong Ralph suffers from stress and begins to break down. He becomes nervous, his memory gets worse and he forgets what he is talking about during a sentence. Like everyone else he takes part in the killing of Simon. When he is hunted he snarls like an animal. (common sense)
Piggy: Piggy has the rational ability that Ralph misses. He is the most intelligent of all the boys, but he also has qualities that make him unacceptable to the other boys. Even Ralph laughs at him and doesn't always take him seriously. Some of his handicaps are physical: asthma, he is fat, and doesn't have athletic ability. Other handicaps are social: he is lower middle-class (he speaks Cockney). He also cries a lot and often quotes his auntie or other grown-ups. He has no sense of humour, but he is constantly laughed at. He has a strong sense of justice and fair play: he recognises the conch as a symbol of order and he believes in its power longer than anyone else. When Jack and the others come up at night he doesn't realise they come for his glasses, he thinks they have come for the conch. Even after that he still believes in the power of the conch and even thinks that Jack will respect it too. (rational)
Jack: Jack quickly becomes a primitive hunter on the island who follows only his instincts. He discovers that when he paints his face it frees him from the values he had to live by in the civilised world. He realises there is a evil power on the island, but thinks of it as the beast and not as something from within himself. Jack is the boss of choir boys and has a strong influence on them. He is very violent. Jack wants a lot of rules, but not for the order, but for the fact that the boys can be punished if they break the rules. Jack loses his goodness during the story. (devil)
Simon: Simon is a silent epileptic boy. He is a good boy who works hard and who has plenty courage: he volunteers to cross the island alone and later he climbs the mountain alone to search the beast. He's a solitary boy, others think of him as a bit crazy and Simon himself doesn't feel at ease with the others. He often needs to be by himself in his secret hiding place. He is the only choir boy who doesn't join Jack's group. Simon's role is that of a prophet: he tells Ralph he will get home all right and he understands what the real source of the evil on the island is. He knows that the beast is not something the boys can hunt and kill, but is part of them. When they discussed the beast Simon says 'maybe it's just us', but he can't express himself and cannot get his message through to them. He suggests they climb the mountain to meat the beast. Eventually he does so and finds out the beast is only a dead man in a parachute. When he wants to tell it the others the take him for the beast and they kill him.
Roger: Roger is a sadist who gets his satisfaction in hurting people and force his power upon them. In the beginning he is still hold back by the rules of behaviour he has been taught. When he throws stones at Henry he is careful not to hit him. Hunting brings out his real nature. Roger tortures the sow by sticking his spear 'right up her ass', and it is Roger who releases the stone that kills Piggy. After that even Jack recognises him as the 'master of torture' and he gives Roger the job to make Sam and Eric join his group.
Sam and Eric: The twins are happy fun-loving who work hard and stay loyal to Ralph as long as they can. The belong together so completely that their names are made one: 'Samneric'. They are also regarded as one person in the dividing of tasks, the two of them have to do the same work as all the others have to do alone. They even talk as one, the two of them making one sentence.
The littluns: The littluns remain vague characters in the book. I think that is because the story is told from Ralph's point of view and they are never really important to them. At night the suffer from nightmares and during the day the play in the sand, living in their own world. It never becomes clear how many there are.
The whole story takes place on an unidentified tropical island in the South Pacific during a war. The setting on the island is important because it isolates the characters from outside contacts. They have no contact with any adults, so they are thrown back on their own inner nature.
The theme of the novel is the evil in the heart of people. As Golding himself has said, the book is an attempt to trace the defects of society back to defects of human nature. I think Golding purposely took children to illustrate this, because children are less customised to the rules of civilisation than adults and therefor their true nature will show up quicker when they are removed from the civilised world. The fact that evil qualities in man are stronger than the good qualities is illustrated in the fact that the 'good' boys (Ralph and Piggy) can't win from the evil boys (Jack and his choir). This, of course, is the result of the evil boys being with more than the good, but that is , as far as I believe, a result of the fact that the evil is easier and attracts people more than the good. It's ironic that the catholic choir boys turn out to have the most evil in them. The excuse that it are only children who behave like savages is taken away by the fact that the adults in the rest of the world are in a war.
Point of view
The story is told by an author who can be anywhere he likes and who can tell you anyone's thoughts. But most of the story is told from Jack's point view. The effect of this is, that as a reader, you emotionally identify with him and share his experiences. There are also scenes told from the point of view Jack, Piggy and others.
The story is told chronologically. It begins when the plain crashes down and ends with the officer who rescues the boys. Sometimes the boys talk about their life in the civilised world.
'Lord of the flies' is a literal translation of 'Beelzebub' another name of Satan. Beelzebub was called the god of flies because when he was worshipped by pagan people, the priests at his sacrifices predicted the future by watching swarms of flies.
When Jack and the hunters kill a sow, they set its head up on a stick as a sacrifice to the beast. That's the same as what the pagans did worshipping their gods. The remains of the head are soon full of flies. When Simon sees the filthy head alone, he realises that the evil on the island comes from within the boys. It seems to him that the sow is talking to him, telling him the truth.
In English literature there is a tradition of adventure stories on deserted islands (Robinson Crusoe, The Swiss Family Robinson and Treasure Island). This book isn't a real adventure story as the ones I mentioned above. In the Lord of the Flies there is enough to eat and drink and there is a pleasant climate. There are no cannibals or dangerous wild beasts. The enemy the boys have to deal with is human nature and this makes the novel a sort of psychological novel.
The twentieth century.
About the author
Golding was born in 1911. He was a teacher of English and Philosophy. 'Lord of the Flies' is his first novel. In 1983 Golding was awarded the nobel prize for literature. Golding's later novels have been more highly appreciated by the critics than Lord of the Flies, but they never achieved the same popularity among the public. His later novels continue the same basic theme: the darkness in the hart of man. Other novels of Golding are: The Inheritors, Pincher Martin and The Paper Men. He also wrote poems and essays.
I read the book two times, the first time was in 4 Mavo, the second time in 5 Havo. The first time I read it I didn't understand it to well and that's why I didn't like it too much. The second time I read it was during English lesson on my former school. We disgusted the book very well and then I understood what the author meant to say with the story. I think he describes the characters very well, and although I believe he overacts the darkness in the hart of men, I think that he is right when he suggests that, when people are not controlled by some sort of power that can call them to court, they end up like savages. The situation in former Yugoslavia is a good example for it.
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