Boekverslag : William Golding - Lord Of The Flies / Heer Der Vliegen
De taal ervan is Engels en het aantal woorden bedraagt 5401 woorden.


Lord of the flies

First published



Roman (psychologisch)

Literary tendency

Modern Age


Evil, darkness in the heart of man. Golding shows the reader what will happen when man is stripped of the rules of civilisation. He underlines the difference between reason and primitive instinct, and he makes clear that evil is in each man's heart.

Leading characters

Ralph, the brave hero-figure. The 'man of good will and common sense'. Believes in democratic rule and fair play for everyone. As the leader he has a natural tact, shown for instance when, after being chosen chief instead of Jack, he immediately offers Jack the charge of the choir and his choice of jobs: 'What do you want them to be?'. At the beginning Ralph is innocent; he makes mistakes because he is unaware of evil.

Piggy, a wise, true and loyal boy, who advised Ralph what to do. He is the cleverest of the boys, but he has handicaps too, which make him socially unacceptable to the other boys. Some of his handicaps are physical: he is fat, lazy and he suffers from asthma. Others are social: he is lower middle-class (is apparent in his Cockney- speech), he has no sense of humour, though he is a continual mockery. He was not practical. Piggy can be taken to represent 'rational humanism'.

Jack Merridew is the 'natural man', who quickly changes in a primitive hunter. He has a natural authority about others and the ability to influence the boys. He wanted many rules, not for the sake of order, but so that boys who break them can be punished. (Like a dictator.) Jack can be compared to the devil, who lures men away from goodness. It is indeed in him that 'the darkness in the heart of man' emerges most clearly.

Simon, is a saint-like figure. He is philosophical, silent and withdrawn. It's he who comes to understand - not through rational thinking but in mystical way, through intuition - that the beast is not something that the boys can hurt or kill, but is part of them. After discovering that, he wants to tell the good tidings to the others, but he is killed by Jack's tribe. Simon is the Christ-figure in the book (when he came with good tidings (= gospel, evangelie) he was killed).

Simon's counterpart, Roger, was a sadist. He finds great satisfaction in the power to hurt others and force his will upon them. He is Jack's right-hand and the executioner and torturer for his tribe.

Place of action

All the actions take place on a unidentified tropical island in the South Pacific. (»» No influences of the adults or civilised world. It throws them back on their own inner nature and resources.)

Period of action

During a (fictitious) world war after the 2nd World War. There is spoken about an atom bomb and the boys are evacuated by plane.

Social milieu

Difficult to say, because only schoolboys take part in the story. The most boys have a middle-class speech, except Piggy, with his Cockney-accent.

My own opinion

It's a tragic book, but ironic too (the boys are rescued by a fine, spotless warship which carries the seeds of death and destruction, and is thus involved in the same evil that poisoned their life on the island).

Difficult or easy

The important parts were rather easy to read, but e.g. the parts where the surrounding is described, were full of difficult words.

Does the title matches the content of the book?

Yes, 'lord of the flies' is a translation of Beelzebub, one of the devil's names. It's applied to the central symbol of the book, the sow's head. (In the heat the remains of the sow were soon swarmed with flies.) The sow's head 'tells' Simon the truth about the beast.

Which event has stuck in my memory?

Roger enjoys throwing stones at a little boy, but is careful not to hit him. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law. Roger's arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins.

Summary (with own supplements)

1 Two boys who have survived a plane crash meet the nest morning in a tropical jungle. Ralph is a blond boy who seems lost in his daydreams. The other is a chubby boy nicknamed Piggy who suffers from asthma, wears thick glasses and cannot swim. Through the foliage wrecked by the plane they make their way down the beach, where they find a large pink granite platform sticking out into the sea. In a deep pool beside it Ralph swims in the warm water, and they find a large sea-shell. Piggy has seen one before and knows that it is a conch, a valuable shell that can be used as a horn. He suggests that they blow it in order to call any other survivors to a meeting.

As to Ralph blows the conch, producing a deep sound that startles the jungle, a large number of boys begin to arrive, and Piggy tries to take their names. Some are quite small, like the six-year-old Johnny. There is a merry set of twins called Sam and Eric.

Finally a whole troop of boys comes marching down the beach in black cloaks and caps. They turn out to be a choir, under the leadership of Jack Merridew, who orders them about. But when one of the boys, called Simon, faints from the heat, the formation breaks up and they join the others on the platform. There appear 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 and has called the meeting. Ralph tells Jack he can still be leader of the choir boys, and they can be the hunters. It is decided that Ralph, Jack and Simon will go exploring to find out if, as they suspect, they are on an island. Piggy wants to go along, but is sent back to continue his work of getting the names of the boys.

Ralph, Jack and Simon thoroughly enjoy their jaunt along the beach and then their climb up the mountain, Although it is hard work to make their way through the bits of jungle on the slope. When they finally reach the top they see clearly that they are indeed on an island. On the way down they come across a wild piglet caught in the creepers. Jack wants to stab it, but cannot make himself plunge his knife into the living creature. The piglet gets away.

2 Ralph blows the conch again in the afternoon to call another meeting, to tell the boys they are on an uninhabited island. The problem of rescue is brought up; some boys feel sure they will be rescued shortly. Piggy points out that no one knows where they are. But they feel they are on a good island; there is plenty of fruit to eat and good water to drink, and a beach to play on. They plan to have a lot of fun.

One of the little boys, with a large birthmark on his face, has something to say but is afraid to speak up. Finally he says he has seen a 'snake-thing' or a 'beastie' in the night and is afraid it will come again. Ralph assures him there is no such a beast, and Jack says the hunters will kill it.

But the meeting does not continue in orderly fashion. When Ralph suggests that they build a fire on the mountain, as a signal to any passing ship, Jack yells, 'Come on! Follow me!' and the boys all follow him up the mountain. They collect wood in a small grove near the top, and build a huge bonfire. Then they feel foolish because no one knows how to light a fire. When Piggy arrives, Jack snatches his glasses to use them to focus the sunlight. Piggy is in a panic, as he can hardly see without them, but the fire is soon lit and his glasses returned to him. The fire is so big that they are kept busy gathering wood to feed it, until they all tumble down beside it in exhaustion. Piggy has brought the conch up the mountain, and he holds it now while he tells them that they have made a mistake: this fire is too big to keep up, and is not producing any smoke. The boys are impatient with Piggy, but they have to agree. Jack volunteers his choir boys as a rotating team to keep the fire going and watch for ships.

Then the boys see that sparks from their fire have set the woods on the mountainside on fire. Soon a whole square mile of island is burning, and their easy supply of firewood is all burnt up. Piggy tells them they should have built shelters for the night instead of making this fire. And as they watch the flames and smoke, in awe of the distruction they have caused, the boys suddenly realize that at least one of the small boys - the one with the birthmark on his face who was afraid of the beastie - was probably still down there looking for fruit, and has been caught in the flames. It is impossible to know how many boys are in the fire, because they have not even been counted. At that moment they see a tree explode in the fire. The burning creepers that shoot up into the air look to the little boys like snakes.

3 Several days have passed. Jack and his hunters have been trying every day. but have not succeeded in killing any pigs, so the boys have only fruit to eat. Jack is becoming obsessed with his desire to kill an animal, and can hardly think about anything else.

Meanwhile Ralph and Simon are the only ones who are working on the huts, and they are having a hard time. Only two huts are finished. Ralph explains to Jack that the huts are needed not only to protect them from the cold and possible rain, but also because some of the boys, especially the little ones, have been having nightmares and need a sort of home on the island. When Ralph speaks of rescue, Jack can hardly remember what it means.

Simon helps the younger children gather fruit, and then goes off by himself to a clearing in the jungle where the candle-bud bushes grow, and hides under a mat of creepers while he watches and waits.

4 The boys get used to life on the island. At midday there are mirages, strange optical illusions which disappear again later in the afternoon. The small boys, called 'littluns', spend their days eating fruit in the forest and playing aimlessly in the sand, and their nights suffering from bad dreams. Although there are no adults on the island to make them behave decently to each other, the bigger boys are still much influenced by their upbringing. When Maurice kicks sand in the eyes of a small boy, he feels ashamed of himself. Roger enjoys throwing stones at a little boy, but is careful not to hit him. The little boys, (like most little boys whose parents are not around to correct them) are openly cruel to each other.

Jack has still not been able to kill a pig, but now he has an idea. Using red and white clay and a piece of charcoal he paints his face, creating a mask, and feels that now the pigs will not be able to see him. He takes his hunters into the jungle.

Meanwhile Ralph has been having a swim with Simon and Maurice, and Piggy has been hanging about unwanted. Suddenly they see the smoke of a ship on the horizon. The boys are jubilant until Piggy makes them look for the smoke signal on their mountain, and they discover there is none. Frantically Ralph and the others climb the mountain, to find the fire completely dead and abandoned.

At that moment they see the hunters returning, carrying the body of a dead pig on a stick between them, and chanting 'Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood.'

The hunters are eager to tell their story and enjoy their triumph, but Ralph tells them about the ship and the dead fire. When Piggy whines about the lost chance of rescue, Jack, who needs to lash out at someone, hit him in the stomach and the in the head, so that his glasses xxxxx of. One lens is broken. Ralph for once is loyal to Piggy and tells Jack 'That was a dirty trick.' Jack apologizes about the fire, and they proceed to rebuild it, roast the meat on sticks, and eat it. Finally the hunters have the opportunity to tell the story of how they formed a ring about the pig and beat it to death. They act out the killing again in a kind of dance, with Maurice pretending to be the pig and the others pretending to beat him.

Ralph calls an assembly.

5 As Ralph paces the beach, preparing in his mind the assembly that he has called, he is aware for the first time of how dirty he is and how disorderly his life. He is learning to think and to recognize and respect Piggy' ability to think rationally.

After he blows the conch and the boys are assembled, Ralph speaks about the rules, and all the things that have gone wrong on the island. Boys are not keeping to the assigned places for toilets, most of them did not keep their work on the huts, and now they have even let the fire go out. And then he brings up the main thing that he feels is breaking up their organization: everyone seems frightened. Jack takes the conch and surprises Ralph by talking about a 'beast', some large animal that the littluns say they have seen. The big boys argue that there is no beast on the island. Piggy claims that the idea is not scientific. But a littlun tells how he woke up outside the hut in the night and saw something moving. It was probably Simon, who was going to his secret place in the night.

Another littlun, Percival, just cries when he is called upon to tell his story, and has all the other littluns crying too, until Maurice distracts them with his clowning. Finally Percival admits that he thinks the beast comes from the sea. Even some of the bigger boys thinks it might be possible that a giant squid could come up onto the land. Ralph sees that the whole meeting is dissolving into chaos, and to regain control he blows the conch again.

Now Simon speaks. He says 'maybe it's only us', but everyone laughs at him, so he gives up. Then it is suggested that the beast may be a ghost. Soon Ralph loses his control of the meeting completely; most of the boys follow Jack down the beach where they do their pig-killing dance again. Left behind on the platform with Piggy and Simon, Ralph thinks it might be a good idea to give up the leadership to Jack, but Piggy protests that it is only Ralph's authority that protects him (piggy) from Jack's hatred, and Simon agrees. They wish there were a grown-up on the island, or at least a sign from the world of grown-ups.

6 That night a battle is fought high in the air above the island, and a dead man with a parachute sails down and lands near the top of the mountain. When the wind fills the parachute, it raises the man's head and shoulders, only to drop them again a moment later,. When Sam and Eric, who are tending the fire on the mountain before daylight, see the bulge of the parachute they are sure it is 'the beast' and run in panic down to the shelters where they wake Ralph and Piggy.

In the morning an assembly is called. Jack remembers that there is one end of the island that never has been explored and may be the lair of the beast. It is decided that the bigger boys, under the joint leadership of Ralph and Jack, will go there now. When they arrive at 'the Castle', a large piece of rock connected to the main island only by a narrow path of rocks, Ralph as the chief has to go alone. He is frightened at first but soon realizes that he does not really expect to meet any beast. He finds that on this side of the island, where there is no reef, the swell of the ocean beats violently against the bottom on the cliff below. Following a narrow ledge round the cliff, he finds a cave.

Soon Jack joins him, and when the other boys are sure there is no beast, they come too. They want to stay and explore and push big rocks into the cliffsides. But Ralph insists that they go back and explore the mountain, too, so that the signal fire can be relit.

7 The exploring party continues along the other side of the island, where Ralph has never been. As Ralph stares out across the ocean, which seems to him an insurmountable barrier to rescue, Simon assures to him that he will get home eventually, and for some reason Ralph feels comforted.

As they go on, Ralph spends much of his time daydreaming about his former life, the ponies he fed and the books he had in his bedroom. When they encounter a boar, Ralph wounds it with his wooden spear, and feels quite proud of himself, even though the boar gets away. They do a pig-killing dance then, and Ralph joins the game for the first time. He finds himself wanting to hurt Robert, who is playing the part of the pig, and in fact Robert is hurt, but not badly.

When they come to a cliff they cannot pass, a decision must be made. Ralph still wants to finish exploring on the island, but it will mean that they cannot get back to the huts before dark, and he feels that it would be cruel to leave Piggy alone with the littluns all night. Someone must go back alone to join him and tell him that no beast has been found. Simon volunteers.

By the time they reach the foot of the mountain, it is getting dark. Ralph decides that it would be better to go home now after all and explore the mountain tomorrow, but Jack accuses him of being afraid. Most of the boys leave for home, but Ralph cannot ignore Jack's challenge, and so he undertakes to climb the mountain in the dark, together wit Jack and Roger.

This is the burnt side of the mountain, so they soon find themselves blinded by the ashes they are wading through. Partly up the slope Ralph and Roger decide to wait while Jack goes up alone. But he is soon back, frightened, saying that he has seen something bulge on the mountain. It seems a strange description of a beast, but when Ralph and Roger go too, they also are terrified by the sudden sight of some huge and horrible creature lifting its head.

8 The mood among the boys next morning is depressed. The beast on the mountain makes it impossible for them to keep up the signal fire which is their only hope of rescue. Ralph makes matters worse by saying that Jack's hunters are just 'boys armed with sticks'. Jack is angry and calls a meeting, in which he openly challenges Ralph's position as chief. But when no one will vote against Ralph, Jack disappears alone, humiliated, into the forest.

Simon, summoning all his courage, takes the conch and speaks. He says that the boys ought to climb the mountain, but no one agrees with him. Then Piggy suggests that they build a fire down on the beach. Everyone helps to gather wood, which is damper here and harder to find. When the fire is lit it is a little comfort to everyone. But then Ralph notices that all of Jack's hunters have slipped away to join him. Piggy and the twins comfort him with a feast of fruit.

The hunters track down and kill a great sow that they find feeding her litter. In an orgy of lust and violence they kill it with their sticks. Then head on it as an offering to the beast. The hunters do not know that the clearing they have chosen Roger sharpens a stick at both ends and Jack plants it in the ground in a clearing, with the sow's is Simon's secret place, and that he is watching them through his mat of creepers.

Ralph is depressed by the fact that the other boys do not seem to realize the importance of the fire. As he and Piggy are sitting beside their fire, some of Jack's hunters come up and grab burning branches; they need fire to roast their pig. Jack invites everyone to share the feast that night and also join his group. When the hunters have left, Ralph calls a meeting of the boys still loyal to him, but he is losing control of his mind and finds it increasingly difficult to remember what to say. He keeps forgetting why the fire is so important.

Meanwhile Simon is still in the clearing, which is now infested with flies buzzing about the sow's entrails and the impaled head, which Simon sees as the Lord of the Flies. The head seems to be gazing at Simon, holding him spellbound and speaking to him. It tells him what he already knows: that the beast is nothing that can be hunted and killed, but comes from within the boys themselves. It is part of them. By the time Simon falls into an epileptic fit, he feels that he is inside the beast's mouth.

9 Storm clouds continue to gather over the island; it is very hot and muggy. Towards evening, when Simon awakes in the clearing, he decides to climb the mountain by himself. He finds the dead man entangled in the parachute, now covered with flies. Simon disentangles the parachute lines. He sees that the boys are all down at Jack's new camp and decides to go down and tell them what he has found out about the beast.

Meanwhile, Piggy and Ralph find themselves alone on their end of the beach because everyone else has gone to Jack's party. So they go too, and see Jack presiding like a god. He orders some of his hunters to give Ralph and Piggy some meat. Again Jack invites everyone to join his tribe. But when the rain starts falling the boys realize they will have no huts to sleep in at this end of the island. To distract their attention Jack calls for a pig-killing dance. In face of the coming storm the dance is comforting; even Piggy and Ralph take part, because 'xxxxx in the terror and made it governable'.

The dance is still going on when Simon comes stumbling out of the forest and tries to tell them about the beast. Entering the circle of dancers, he becomes the pig and everyone attacks hem savagely, until he lies dead on the beach. In the morning his body, beautifully illuminated by the strange phosphorescent light, is carried out to sea by the tide.

10 In the morning Piggy and Ralph both understand what has happened and feel ashamed of their part in the dance. Piggy tries to justify it as an accident, and he vaguely understands the influence of the storm. The twins Sam and Eric, the only other biguns left in Ralph's group, also feel ashamed and pretend that they were not at the dance.

Jack has established himself with his tribe in the cave at Castle Rock. The narrow path to it is defended by a guard and a large rock poised on a lever. Jack has had one of the boys tied up and beaten, without explaining why. With the others he plans to hunt and to steal fire from Ralph's camp.

Meanwhile Ralph's group is doing its best to keep the fire going; they want a fire all night for comfort as well as a signal. They daydream about rescue and a return to the civilized world. But Piggy cannot carry wood because of his asthma, and it is too much work for three boys to keep a large fire going, so they have to let it go out before they go to bed.

That night Ralph is awakened from his usual disturbed sleep by Piggy, who has heard a noise outside the tent. Piggy is afraid that it is the beast, and tries to be quiet, but his terror brings on an attack of asthma. It is of course 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.

11 With their fire out and no way of starting a new one, and Piggy almost blind, the situation of Ralph's group 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 on its authority, to return his glasses. So the four boys go to Castle Rock, with Piggy carefully walking between two spears that Sam and Eric trail along the ground.

At Castle Rock they are challenged by a guard of painted savages. While they are standing there, Jack returns from the hunt with a dead pig. Ralph demands that he give back Piggy's glasses, and calls Jack a thief. They fight until Piggy reminds Ralph what they are there for.

Then Jack orders his hunters to capture Sam and Eric and tie them up. Ralph is helpless to prevent them, but he attacks Jack anyway, and they fight again until they are interrupted by the voice of Piggy. He is holding up 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. The hunters are preparing to attack Piggy and Ralph when Roger, who has been waiting on top of the cliff and occasionally throwing stones, releases the big rock. It rolls thunderingly down the path and hits Piggy and the conch, shattering the conch into a thousand pieces and knocking Piggy off the cliff, onto a large flat rock in the sea, bursting his head open.

Jack exults in this deed, and hurts a spear at Ralph, which wounds him but not seriously. After Ralph runs away, Jack starts poking Sam and Eric, who are lying tied on the ground, and orders them to join the tribe. But then Roger comes up, saying he knows a better way to get them to agree.

12 Hiding in the forest, Ralph sees that the tribe have begun eating the roast pig. He eats some fruit and goes to the old camp. but realizes that he cannot stay there alone, so he returns to Jack's end of the island. On the way he passes the clearing with the sow's head - now just a skull - on a stick. He is filled with loathing for the 'obscene object' and knocks it down so that it breaks into two pieces. He takes the stick that it was on, to use it as a spear.

Ralph sees that Sam and Eric have been set to guard Castle Rock. He appeals to them to help him, but they tell him that they have been forced by Roger's torture to join the tribe. They warn him that Jack's hunters are going to hunt him down the next day, searching the whole island. He asks what they will do to him if they catch him, but Sam and Eric will only say 'Roger sharpened a stick at both ends'. Counting on their still being loyal to him in their hearts, Ralph tells them he will be hiding the next day in a thicket near Castle Rock. They give him a piece of meat before he hears other voices and has to sneak away.

Ralph sleeps in a patch of ferns. When he awakens he hears the signal cry of the hunters who are already looking for him. He crawls into the can deal with them. But Sam and Eric are forced to reveal his hiding place. The hunters return to Castle Rock, and a moment later he hears them heaving a rock from the cliff top. The rock bounces over him and rolls down to the beach. Then he hears them heaving another rock, dense thicket where he thinks he will be safe. The hunters can come in only one at a time, and he this time an enormous one. It too misses him, although it crashes with tremendous power and tosses him into the air. When a hunter tries to crawl into the centre of the thicket, Ralph thrusts at the 'savage' with his own stick and wounds him.

Then the hunters set fire to the thicket and Ralph is smoked out. He is able to escape into the forest. As he runs and occasionally rests, tracing the progress of the hunters by their cries, Ralph cannot decide whether to try to break the line where it is weakest, or climb a tree. Meanwhile he hears a deep rumble; the fire started by the hunters is spreading over the island. He decides to try to hide so well that the line of hunters will pass him by.

Ralph finds the clearing where the broken skull of the sow is still grinning, and hides beneath the mat of creepers. When a savage approaches and he prepares to defend himself with is stick, he notices that it has been sharpened at both ends. When he realizes what this means, he screams in terror, giving his hiding place away. Soon he hears all the hunters after him. It seems that some of them are no longer running after him, but away from the raging fire.

Finally Ralph reaches the beach and falls onto the sand. When he gets up he finds himself looking at a naval officer who has just arrived to investigate the smoke rising from the island. The officer sees that they have been 'having a war' and then asks jokingly if any boys have been killed. When Ralph answers 'Only two', the officer is amazed, and even more so when it becomes clear that no one knows how many boys are on the island. He expresses his disappointment that 'a pack of British boys' couldn't have 'put up a better show than that'.

Ralph tries to explain but soon he breaks down and cries, mourning for 'the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy'.
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