Home » Summary: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Summary: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord Of The Flies, by William Golding, focused on the development and deterioration of a miniature society of boys isolated on a small tropical island. The story centred around individuals representing different aspects of children and their personalities. Beginning with a child-like innocence, the novel brought forth many of the sinister characteristics of human nature as the use of violence became more frequent and progressed into an ultimate pinnacle. The violence provided a sense of realism in that the author did not try to hide the factual harshness of the world by covering it with a false softness.

The text was very descriptive of the setting and the physical and mental appearance of the protagonists and antagonists. The style of writing being sometimes simple-minded and not fully aware of “the outside world” suited the characters’ ages. The book dealt with our true nature as revealed by the freedom from the disciplinary boundaries of modern society. Chapter 1 The description of the lead character in the beginning of the story, was that of a light-coloured boy who was soon given the name Ralph. Ralph seemed a typical kid. His fair appearance and size made him likeable and gave him an inner-strength of self-confidence.

His interaction with Piggy showed that he was not ill-natured. Although he laughed at Piggy’s name, it was not with real malice for he had ridiculed his external appearance. Piggy’s rather unique attributes had made him an outcast of the mainstream of boys at his age, and his lack of self-esteem reflected that. He too seemed good-natured as he behaved in a polite fashion. The fact that Piggy was knowledgable and well-educated was made apparent by his air of responsibility. The conch was presented as a symbol of authority and order. It summoned all the boys from the island to the assembly, and it gave its holder he right to speak.

It also set Ralph apart from the bigger boys and helped him to be leader. The clothing worn by the boys made them seem more civilized, and the inappropriateness of such garments made them very much out of place. The uniformed Jack and his choir were seen as a superior power. Being more proper, the uniforms created an isolated unity for the choir. The force of Jack’s authority over his choir and his malicious and arrogant personality dwarfed Piggy. Ralph’s attempt to defend Piggy being called fatty resulted in more embarrassment for Piggy. The childish laughters formed a bond among he boys and made Piggy what he had always been, an outcast.

At their first meeting, all the boys were introduced by their first names. The complicated and serious formalities with their last names were left out to suit their age groups and perhaps to provide a sense of unity among the boys. Jack’s insistence on being called Merridew showed his desire to be superior among the boys. His defeat after the vote for chief was taken uneasily at first (hinted by the imagery of a red facial expression), but after being offered the command of his choir, he accepted his status. Among the boys in the choir, Roger was first seen as a shy and quiet boy, hile Simon was introduced as pleasant-mannered and happy.

Ralph, Simon and Jack’s exploration of the island allowed the reader to examine the innocent and playful nature of a small group of boys. Their playful attitude was clearly evident as they were energetic and enthusiastic towards their new environment. They interpretation of their surroundings were truthful and simple. Their first encounter of the pig ended with Jack hesitating to stab the pig. This demonstrated Jack’s inexperience as a killer, as compared to what he would become later in the book. Chapter 2 Already, the smaller boys could be seen segregated from the bigger nes.

In some instances (in meetings for example), the older boys were like the more powerful and decisive adults while the smaller boys were depicted as the more playful and less responsible children. The little boy’s story of the “snake-thing” was not taken too seriously by the older boys. As the story progresses on, it dealt less and less with the smaller boys, until near the ending, they were almost completely ignored. Ralph’s leadership was well reflected by his public speaking skills. He was able to convey his thoughts clearly and fluently. Jack too seemed quite able to speak and was quite eager to do so.

His suggestion to make rules showed that he wanted to assert control over the “society” of boys. Their wanting of order and regularity demonstrated the teachings that they had learned from many years of living in a regulated society governed by authority and punishment. Nostalgia was present but did not manifested itself very strongly. This may have been due to the older boys’ ages and their wanting to look strong before their peers. The boy’s reacted to Ralph’s idea of making a fire with great enthusiasm, perhaps they were overcome with joy at the prospect of being free to do something that they were always told not to do.

As the crowd of boys ran towards the mountain, Piggy was seen as a parental guardian running after a group of reckless kids. There rude snatching of his glasses again demonstrated the boys’ disliking of a different individual. Although he was not heard properly, Piggy was the person who could think with a sound mind. After their mistake of setting much of the forest ablaze, it was Piggy who pointed out their folly and who had tried to make them more responsible for their actions. However, even Piggy had not fully realized the consequences resulting from setting the entire island on fire.

Chapter 3 Jack’s hunting skills and his general physical appearance told the reader that the boys had been on the island for quite some time. His failure to capture his prey meant that he was still not quite a hunter, but his improved tracking skills showed that he had come quite a distance. On Jack’s return to the shelters, the differences between him and Ralph was beginning to cause some friction between the two. This could be taken as a foreshadowing of their battles later on in the book. The lack of helping hands in the construction of the shelters was a sign of the deterioration of their bond.

In the conversation between Ralph and Jack, fear among the littluns was mentioned. They spoke as if they were a little scared, perhaps of having to have to fend for themselves. Although, Jack and his hunters were not obliged to help in the building of the shelters, Simon had decided to assist Ralph. It was as if he had taken a liking to the chief and had decided to set himself apart from the hunters, perhaps he had taken a disliking to Jack. At the end of the chapter, Simon came to a clearing in the forest. He seemed content to be alone, this may have been the reason why he had chosen to set himself apart from the other hunters.

Chapter 4 The chapter began giving the reader an idea of well the boys had adapted to their island. The littluns had now become quite separate from the biguns almost being a separate and somewhat more obscure society of their own. When Roger decided to throw rocks in the direction of Henry, he dared not throw them too close to the littlun for fear that a seemingly omnipresent adult would appear to punish him. By painting his face, Jack was able to conceal his identity, so that he would not be seen as Jack. Originally, Jack wanted to paint himself so that he could be camouflaged among the trees and not be seen by the pig.

But he found that the clay gave him a new external appearance, providing a mask perhaps to hide his darker thoughts. The mask gave him a sense of security in that he could almost disguise himself as a stranger and not be known as Jack. It was also after being painted, that he had his first successful hunt. Long hair was used as a sign to show that the boys had become progressively less civilized. The exception was Piggy, who was described as the only boy whose hair never seemed to grow. Piggy was the only civilized or educated person on the island.

The irresponsible behaviour of the boys was evident again as the fire as allowed to die out, especially during the passing of a ship. This was extremely irritating to Ralph and made him take a great disliking to Jack, who had become quite obsessed with hunting. When Piggy began to protest against Jack, the hunter showed more of the violent side of his personality as he struck maliciously at Piggy. But even in his fit of rage, Jack still felt subordinate to Ralph, as he forced himself to apologize. The imagery of redness was used again to show anger and hate.

Jack was like a child making excuses to cover up his wrong-doing and trying to avoid taking esponsibility for his actions. The meat had become a bait for the boys to give into hate and evil of killing the pigs. Even to Ralph and Piggy, the meat was irresistible. Jack being the one who had brought them meat, had become a source of evil, under whom the other boys gave in easily to their own innate evil. After the first hunt, the desire to kill had become quite apparent among the boys, as they talked excitedly of their hunt and sang their chant.

Chapter 5 At the beginning of the chapter, Ralph was thinking over his speech for the assembly. The image of watching one’s feet was used to describe how Ralph was beginning to understand the importance of watching what he did. His looking back at their first day, made him seem like a teenager or adult wanting to be a kid again. It was as if Ralph was undergoing a shortened version of growing up. Ralph’s recognition of Piggy’s intelligence showed that he was beginning to rely on Piggy’s decision-making skills. It was as if Piggy had become a parent to him.

Ralph’s account of the incompetence of the boys gave the reader an idea of the order that had been planned in the beginning and of what the group of boys had degenerated into. Jack’s response to the mention of the fear and the beast, showed more of his malevolent personality and his dislike of the littluns. His perspective of fear suggested that he was beginning to lose his fear of the forest, of the fear of being hunted. When Piggy questioned the assembly as to what a beast would eat on the island, the response was pig.

Piggy then said that they were the ones who ate pigs. This suggested that the beast that they feared may have been themselves, their own evil. Piggy’s remark on how they could begin to fear people suggested that he was beginning to suspect the evil within themselves. As ore ideas of the beast were presented, the beast became more real and their fear of it grew. After the vote on the existence of a ghost, Piggy mentioned what a grown-up would think of them. This expressed the desire of a child to be like an adult, thinking that what an older person did was right.

Piggy’s mention of hunting and the dying out of the fire infuriated Jack, and he began to try overtaking Ralph’s authority. His increasing violence and boldness suggested that he would soon cause trouble. Although Jack had come up with the idea of having rules, his hypocrisy was another hint that he had changed a great deal. As the crowd of boys went out of control, Piggy told Ralph to blow the conch, acting as his advisor. Once again Piggy could be seen as a guardian. Ralph feeling the burden of responsibility contemplated on quitting as chief.

It was then that Simon and especially Piggy made him realize what kind of character Jack was. Chapter 6 The figure who had parachuted on to the island was described in a brief exterior manner, yet it was not difficult to fully comprehend what was happening. However, to Samneric the figure became a beast with many grotesque features, shaped by their imagination with the aid of the mysterious darkness. This is characteristic of children, as they tend to be afraid of the dark, and the things obscured in the night are often associated with horrible monstrosities that they have seen or heard of.

In their report, Samneric added some details that to the reader seemed false, yet they spoke in a very serious and certain manner. As usual, Jack acted boldly and rudely, in accordance with his self-righteous personality. Jack was again inconsiderate of the littluns. To stay apart from others of a different age group is another characteristic of kids. Jack’s outburst of banishing the conch rule and leaving decision-making to specific individuals, as another indication of his arrogance. His growing rebellious courage to oppose Ralph and the proposed rules indicated a confrontation between Ralph and Jack to end their power struggle.

The fire was beginning to seem less and less important to the group of boys. Ralph’s constant reminder became decreasingly effective. Their desire to return to their former lives were gradually forgotten as they became accustomed to their new habitat. As the biguns made their way to Castle Rock, Ralph was glad to be at the rear. Again, the chief was feeling the burden of responsibility. Simon, as he as contemplating over the possibility of the beast, it could be seen that he was the only one who seemed to make sense. Even Piggy had not considered the flaws in Samneric’s descriptions in their account of the night.

Although he had a lot to offer intellectually, he lacked the confidence to speak out openly. Ralph began having trouble clarifying his thoughts, almost as if certain things of importance were being forgotten. Again the significance of having smoke signal was being ignored. The disobedience of the boys became more apparent, and it made the reader feel that Ralph would soon lose his status as chief. Chapter 7 Ralph’s longing to have his hair cut and to have himself fully cleaned again expressed his desire to live a civilized life.

He was not entirely comfortable with his living conditions, even though he had become quite accustomed to them. His daydreams at start of the hunt were further signs that he was clearly nostalgic. On their brief and unsuccessful hunt, Ralph had his first opportunity to throw his spear at a boar and attempt to kill it. He was able to only wound the animal, but the feeling from just that overwhelmed him. He began to share the desire to kill that the other hunters had enjoyed. When Maurice retended to be a boar, Ralph joined in without hesitation. He too gave way to his own innate evil.

The seriousness of the “play-hunt” reflected on how close Jack and his hunters had come to being able to kill a human being. As they continued after the beast, the image of feet trodding a path was used again. The trail the boys went on was difficult, just as Ralph was encountering difficulties in their society as chief. Simon again volunteered to venture alone back towards the shelter. His loner-personality always seemed to set him socially apart from the other boys. There was another power struggle between Jack and Ralph as Ralph egan to replace Jack as the leader of their expedition.

Ralph revealed what Piggy had known about Jack’s feelings towards Ralph. When the other boys heard this, they were momentarily jarred. Although they had known that it was true, simply saying out in public made it difficult to hide such unpleasantries. As they laboured on into the night, Jack pushed on furiously, wanting to prove that he was better than Ralph. But as the three remaining boys drove on through the burnt patch, Ralph having more sense, realized how immature he had allowed himself to be, as a result of Jack’s impetuous arrogance. As Jack left them, Roger was again described as a silent boy who was hard to reach.

Perhaps he had stayed because he wanted to earn the favouritism of Jack, the leader of the hunters, and who was slowly gaining the status as chief. The night was described a darkness in which it was difficult to see. This black sensation was strengthened by the dark ashes, a reminder of the boys’ carelessness. Black and darkness were used to depict empty-headed confusion. On their way to the mountaintop, Ralph’s voice that had covered his inner fears and confusion, his exterior voice was silent. So that inside im, he could remember what Piggy would have thought of him at that time.

He could also remember how silly they were being. A dentist’s chair was used to describe the uncertainty amplified by the unsuggestive darkness. It was like sitting on a dentist’s chair, wondering if he would be pulling out a tooth. The cries and roars of nature added to the mention of confusion to create a sensation of terror around the boys who fled at the sight of their own imaginative fears. Chapter 8 When Ralph admitted that they were beaten by the beast, conceivably, he was beginning to give up. He was starting to tire from all his struggles. Jack then boldly called an assembly, trying further to take the role as chief.

The suggestion that the beast was a hunter. Jack remembered his fear of being hunted in the forest. The author may have tried to say what Frederich Nietzsche had said. As Jack hunted the animals and the beast, he became the monster he was after, and perhaps, the monster that they feared, was themselves, as Simon had said earlier. Jack tried to make Ralph seem unlikeable, and by saying that Roger and him went on at the mountain, he may have begun to favour Roger. Jack’s unskilled blowing of the conch and his iscomfort suggested that he was not fully confident that the other boys were supportive of him as the new chief.

His tears showed that he was still a boy and that the other boys still respected Ralph’s rank. But after Jack left, the number of boys seemed lessened. Names of the individuals such as Maurice, Roger, Robert or Bill were not mentioned very frequently. The fuel they gathered for their new fire was not as good as the wood they had burned on the mountaintop. Overall, the great joy in the building of the first fire was less evident in the building of their new one. Their society seemed to be deteriorating. The fire they built began to die out as there were less people to share the work.

After the intimidation he had suffered from the assembly, Simon went to his “secret” place on the island, to be alone again. Jack’s idea of giving the beast an offering was like the start of some religion worshipping the beast as though it was a god. Their hunt of the big sow, was vividly described with much detail to the terror and blood. The brutality of the hunt and cruelty of the hunters were powerfully expressed through the harm they had inflicted upon the drove of pigs. The pig’s head was referred to as the Lord of the Flies. The flies uzzing over the remains of the sow symbolized evil and filth.

The Lord of the Flies was a great emblem of the malevolence the human boys on the island. During the brief conversation between Ralph and Piggy, Ralph revealed that he wanted to quit, that the burden of responsibility was wearing him down. Piggy was supportive and understood his pains. Jack returned naked and covered with paint. He was addressed as the Chief. His followers were for the first time, referred to as savages. At his earlier departure from Ralph’s boys, he welcome anyone to join. But now having regained his confidence, he spoke saying that he would be more elective of newcomers.

Once again, his mask of paint made him a true savage, not having to have to abide to any of the rules from his former life as a British boy. Ralph subsequent speech was handicapped by the shutter in his mind covering his thoughts, so that he could no longer think straight. His lame speech took away what little respect the other boys had for him as chief. Once more meat as a temptation to give into the evil was strong over all the boys who remained with Ralph. Simon was hallucinating, but the voice of the Lord of the Flies was speaking for some of the thoughts inside Simon’s mind.

It spoke of the beast and what it actually was. The beast was evil, and the evil was inherent among them. Perhaps Simon was aware of those things unconsciously. The voice also spoke of how he had wanted to be part of the others, and that he feared how Ralph and the others would think he was crazy. The blackness in the pig’s mouth engulfed him as he became unconscious from dehydration. Chapter 9 The bad weather was a foreshadowing of the foul events that would be taking place. The flies crowded around the figure on the mountain. The beast feared by the boys was a result of fear of themselves.

Their evil allowed heir imagination to fashion such a monster into their existence. When Simon discovered the truth behind the beast, he understood what the beast actually was. As Ralph squirted water at Piggy, instead of retreating shyly, he splashed water at Ralph. Without the presence of Jack or some boys to intimidate him, Piggy could regain his self-confidence. The two talked of the reasons why the others went off to join Jack and his savages. Then Piggy suggested that they went themselves, perhaps they too were succumbing to the desire to give in to the evil.

Jack’s assertion as chief made Ralph completely powerless among the oys and savages. Piggy was scared and urged Ralph, who was also a bit scared to back away. The descriptions of the sky became gradually more violent until lightning broke and the heavy rain started. Then the ritual dance began. It was wrought with the vehemence experienced from the pig killings. The littluns fled in terror for they did not understand the evil within the biguns as they were still protected by their young innocence. But Ralph and Piggy joined the circle, wanting a sense of belonging into the group of boys and savages.

The chanting and the acting brought forth their desire to kill. When Simon made his untimely appearance, the savages were driven mad with frenzy and in the obscure darkness, they brutally murdered who they thought was the beast. The killing was told almost entirely through the viewpoint of the savages. This helped the reader a little to understand the madness inflicted upon the Jack and the others. The beast from the mountain was freed from its imprisonment at its top by the storm and drifted into the sea. Just as Simon was carried by the waves from the ocean into the waters.

The waves washed away the traces of the rain, the stains of Simon’s blood and the remains of his body, just as the torm washed the beast away. Simon had allowed the figure to be free of its beastly positions, had tried to reveal the truth he had learned, but the savages crazed with their own evil and blinded by the dark confusion stopped and killed him. The chapter ended with his body slowly and gracefully carried away towards the sea. Simon’s final and peaceful rest brought a sense of sadness as it did not involve the blind evil that had killed the boy, it had nothing to do with the evil that ignored its casualties.

The quiet ending allowed the reader to assess what had been lost and also to feel the loss. Chapter 10 Ralph was thinking of Simon. He was fully aware of the murder, and so was Piggy. Ralph had the strength to bring out the truth as he had liked Simon. Piggy however avoided the truth and tried to make it seem an accident. He did not want to share the guilt of killing Simon. He wanted to believe that there was nothing they could do. He also touched on the notion that perhaps Simon was not really dead. Although the twins also tried to hide from the truth, all four boys were fully aware of the past night’s event.

In the conversation between Roger and Robert, the two boys showed their admiration for their new Chief. But news of the beating of Wilfred brought suspicion of abuse of power to Roger, who dismissed those thoughts rather quickly. The tribe’s discussion of the beast was clearly the start of a new religion as rules dealing with the beast were established. Even strange thoughts about the beast were being conceived of. Some said that the beast disguised itself, and the Chief kept insisting that the beast was immortal. From now on they would make it a custom to leave the head of their quarry as an offering for the beast.

Their fear of this new demigod was genuine and their believe in its powers was strong. When Bill asked of the fire, the Chief’s blush was hidden by his clay mask. This was another instance where the paint served to hide Jack’s thoughts and emotions. The fire had become a sacred item to Ralph and his few boys. The importance of the fire was slowly being shut up inside Ralph’s mind. His leadership had deteriorated along with his followers. Before the fight in the shelter, the Ralph and his boys had thought that the beast was coming after them. They too had fear of their won belief.

After Jack and his hunters’ intrusion, Piggy once again thought that they had come for the conch, still thinking that the conch was the symbol of power and authority. The loss of his glasses made him seem less potent than before as an advisor. Now bent by his lack of vision, Piggy could give less aid to Ralph. Chapter 11 Piggy was going through a very emotional stage. He had lost his glasses to a savage boy he hated. The injustice done upon him was severe as he had to suffer the turmoil it wrought. He was at a point where he could no longer tolerate the cruelty and so decided to confront Jack even though he would get hurt.

His courageous outburst, his tears and his helplessness provided the reader with a way to share his anger and pains. Ralph had suggested that they go to the savages looking more civilized. This was one of the differences that set them apart from Jack and his savages. Instead of giving easily into the freedom of savagery, the liberation from the rules and habits of their civilized past identities. But even Samneric showed some longing for the paint which Ralph, being a rather honest person, rejected. When they arrived at the Castle Rock, the four boys instinctively hid from sight.

Although they had planned to go boldly to the savages, their inner fear of their power drove them momentarily into hiding. As the faces f the savages appeared, they were described as “painted out of recognition”. The author was saying that the savages had changed and the paint, giving them new identities, were by then, quite different from the boys they had originally been. Among his friends, Piggy’s anger had given him the fortitude to say out loud what he wanted to do about Jack, infront of the savages, Piggy was reduced to a scared and helpless child.

By then, Roger had gained more confidence in himself and feeling more powerful (especially among his fellow savages) was not at all frightened of Ralph and his meagre group of boys. The savages’ laughers intimidated Ralph’s bold words and made them feeble. As Samneric were tied up and Ralph was ignored by sheer laughter, it could be seen how helpless the four boys were in comparison to the greater group of savages. Then Piggy’s destruction signalled Ralph’s final developmental phase for he was now on his own.

He was like a young adult who had to grow and become independent of his parents. The conch was destroyed. It had been a symbol of order and authority, and the boulder that killed Piggy had destroyed the conch. Their fear of their chief was displayed by Roger who looked with fear at Jack’s angry face. The prodding with a spear at their ribs was scary thing that gave the reader a good impression of the situation Sam and Eric were in and how frightened they were. The Roger came up to them and further demonstrated his new status by looming over them with his new height.

Chapter 12 Ralph’s thoughts about Bill told the reader that Ralph could see how the boys had changed from the clothed and proper kids they started out into the painted and violent savages they were. Again, there was an attempt to make the killings seem like accidents as if to ignore the malice. This time it was from Ralph, who perhaps did not readily accept the evil that had vercome Jack and his savage tribe. Samneric’s surrender into the tribe was one with shame hidden partially by the night. They made some effort to assist Ralph, but their fear of Jack and Roger was overwhelming. Ralph found out that he would be hunted.

His feelings were confused as he wondered why he was so hated. Ralph’s innocence made their hatred seem like meaningless madness. His telling the twins his intended hideout showed that he still trusted them. Sam’s gift of meat was a final token of their friendship. As Sam imparted that Roger had sharpened a stick at both ends, the reader can now deduce that the savages ant to cut Ralph’s head off and hang it on the stick, perhaps as an offering to the beast. The malevolence in this act was somewhat shocking even after all the evil cruelty displayed by the savages in the previous chapters.

When the twins’ betrayal became evident Ralph became completely alone, friendless. There, the mean personalities of Jack and Roger were revealed again. As Ralph was being hunted, he became a prey running from the hunters for his life. During the times he was hidden from the line of savages, he had a few brief moments to think desperately of his situation. He tried to remember what Piggy would do. The text progressed quickly and read easily to give the reader a sense of how fast time was passing for Ralph, the hunted.

With the whole island ablaze and the line of hunters coming behind him, it seemed that there was no escape for Ralph, and the entrance of the naval officer was completely unexpected. It was however, a great relief from the suspenseful tension built up from all the periods of waiting Ralph was put through. In comparison to the clean and very much civilized naval officer, Ralph was no cleaner than the filthy savages gathering around. The mature authority and seriousness of the officer’s questions made Ralph’s short and imple answers seem child-like and made Ralph seem much smaller than he was.

As Ralph declared himself Boss, Jack made no attempt to assert himself as Chief. Remnants of his regulated past may have made him feel guilty before a full-grown adult. Given a calm moment to reflect back at the past tragic events, Ralph began to weep for the loss of his friend Piggy from whom he had learned a great deal. The idyllic tropical island was consumed by the flames set by the hatred of a group of savages. Ralph wept for the end of his innocence as he had learned of the evil inside humanity, of the evil inside himself.

Conclusion Lord of the Flies was like a thought experiment conducted to see what would happen to a group of young boys, not fully educated and hardened into civilized men, if they were placed on an isolated island by themselves. It also suggested how some primitive cultures may have evolved their religions and customs. Although in a normal environment, it is almost impossible to even imagine young boys being able to commit murders and commit the cruel acts of terror as shown in the novel, the inner evil inherent within all of us was brought out by the freedom from society and its laws.

The first hapters of the book provided an image of the boys in their ordered and mild- mannered states. They seemed normal by our standards. As the pages passed by, the boys became gradually more and more savage. The began to adapt to their new environment and their personalities became more violent. It became more and more easy to kill pigs, until finally in the last chapters, the savages found it possible to kill fellow human beings. The book was well- written in the simple but direct style of the young boys while the complexity was also present to give in-depth study into this horrible nature of man.

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