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Lord of The Flies: Summary and Detailed Analysis

Lord of The Flies: Summary and Detailed Analysis

Lord of the Flies” is a famous novel written by William Golding. This book marks the debut of the author’s career, whose mastery of writing would later be distinguished by a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1983. The novel itself is about young boys stranded on an uninhabited piece of land after a plane accident. Throughout the whole text, they are trying to survive and bring order into their lives. Despite their decent upbringings, without connection to civilization, the kids soon descend into savagery and primitivism. This “book about kids on the island”, as it’s often referred to by its readers, was published in 1954. Due to its worldwide popularity, the book was turned into a movie, twice – in 1963 in Britain by Peter Brooke & Lewis Allen, and in 1990 in the US by Harry Hook & Lewis Allen. The book itself bears many references to an earlier novel, “The Coral Island”, which was written by Robert Michael Ballantyne in 1857. Both texts occupy a central place in the body of juvenile fiction literature heritage.

Below you will find a detailed study guide on “Lord of the Flies”. It features a short summary of its plot, descriptions of its main themes and symbols, as well as key facts about the book. This information was compiled to support students writing essays about the novel, scholars conducting research on William Golding’s writing, and book lovers trying to find out whether or not this novel will satisfy their literary taste.

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Overview: Lord of the Flies at a Glance

Author: William Golding (British novelist, 1911-1993)

Published: 1954

Type: Novel

Genre: Juvenile fiction, allegory (uses realistic situations to send a message about general notions and ideas)

Language: English

Title meaning: Lord of the flies is the nickname of the pig’s head that one of the boy survivors – Jack – erected on a stick. It is associated with the escalating violence among the boys.

Lord of the Flies Characters

The characters in “Lord of the Flies” are boys in their teenage years. Before the text’s plot begins, we assume that the airplane passengers were being evacuated from Great Britain because of war (it’s not clear what war exactly). Most of them hadn’t known each other before landing on the island, apart from the group of choir boys led by Jack. The main characters – Ralph, Jack, and Piggy – demonstrate the differences in human reactions to the crisis. While some of them try to keep a clear mind and use reason to survive, others give into natural animal instincts and go wild.

Ralph is a main character whose point of view is heard the most by the readers – he is tall, fair-haired, and not very talkative. He is smart, likes order, and is recognized at first as the leader of the group. He is one of the few characters that manage to keep a sense of order and civilization without descending into savagery. Unfortunately, when the other boys begin to go completely wild, they hunt him, and he runs for his life until he meets a naval officer on the beach.

Piggy is Ralph’s right hand. He is intelligent and quick-witted, however, his excessive weight and other physical impairments don’t allow him to join the hunters. He is the source of support for Ralph in his darkest moments when the rough behavior of the hunters makes Ralph consider stepping down as the boys’ leader. Piggy is the one who proposes to build a solar clock, which signifies his practicality and smart mind. His glasses are a crucial instrument used to start and keep the rescue fire. He dies tragically in an attempt to recover his stolen glasses from Jack and his hunters.

Jack Merridew is a well-behaved boy who used to lead a local school choir. Once on the island, he becomes upset about the absence of the grown-ups. However, he quickly abandons his “good boy” image, becomes the lead hunter, and actively contests Ralph’s authority. He has the urge to dominate others and a wild desire to see other living creatures get hurt.

Roger is a typical bully who finally gets an unlimited opportunity to exercise his inner violence and rage without facing any risks of punishment. He uses his position as a hunter to harass others, which he greatly enjoys. He is the one who launches a huge rock off of Castle Rock, which kills Piggy. Towards the end of the book, his rage gets out of control and even the reader doubts whether Jack has any power over this rogue violence-thirsty teenager.

Samneric is actually the name for two characters: Sam and Eric, who are identical twins. The boys are so inseparable that they are treated as one, as Piggy says in Chapter 8: “You got to treat Samneric as one turn. They do everything together”. These characters signify the inability to grow and develop their own personalities among contemporary youth. They are typical followers who agree with the leading force – be it Ralph, at first, or Jack later.

Simon is one of the characters with a more subtle and humane role. He helps others and is curious to discover the world around him. His soft and intrinsic character makes him a perfect victim for the hunters’ aggression. Based on his behavior, it’s likely that he suffers from epilepsy. He talks in his head to the pig’s head, which he calls the Lord of the Flies, and these conversations confirm his suspicions that beasts are actually living inside of him and his friends. Simon is the first character to die in the hands of the hunters that go wild.

The Beast is a mysterious creature nobody has seen, but everybody is afraid of. The younger boys are the first to bring him up during the second general meeting. At first, the older boys convince everyone that there are no beasts on the island. Then, they believe that the dead parachutist’s body that landed on the island is the Beast. It is the symbol of the group’s primitive fear and wild emotions. The boys are afraid of the Beast and yet fascinated by it simultaneously. Jack uses the idea of the beast to undermine Ralph: he makes a promise to find and kill the beast. Simon gets killed during a ritual hunting dance when nobody could see clearly so the kids treated him like an animal.

The naval officer is the head of the marines that come to rescue the boys. The presence of such a character is one of the key references to “The Coral Island” novel, where there is an officer with a very similar description. He is also the one who literally sarcastically says the name “Coral Island” when he sees the boys’ terrible conditions.

“Lord of the Flies” Study Guide: Key Facts

  1. The book was created as a response to another novel, “The Coral Island”, published in 1857 by Robert Michael Ballantyne. However, in “Lord of the Flies”, the events take an absolute opposite turn.
  2. The youngest kids are the first to notice a mysterious “beastie” (Chapter 2) on the island and the older boys make fun of them. In the end, it turns out that some of the older boys were the monsters everybody had feared.
  3. Simon is the one who gives the pig’s head that was mounted on the stick the nickname – “Lord of the Flies”
  4. It’s not clear how many boys were there on the island in LOTF (“Lord of the Flies”). Two of them, Piggy and Simon, fell victim to the hunters’ violence and died.
  5. The language of the text has an abundance of teenage slang, which makes it even more realistic. The younger kids are called “littluns”: “They talk and scream. The littluns.” (Chapter 3); and the older boys were called “biguns”.
  6. The main “Lord of the Flies” themes are the role of civilization, the integrity of the human soul, and the equivocation of values. This text serves as an excellent source for essays about friendship, the difficult process of becoming a young man, civil order, and reactions of the mind to tough circumstances.

Summary of “Lord of the Flies” and Analysis

“Lord of the Flies” chapter summaries for all 12 chapters of the book demonstrate a gradual descent into madness by the boys isolated from civilization. The author doesn’t mention dates in the chapters of the book, thus, it’s not clear how long the boys lived on the island. Perhaps, the 12 chapters refer to 12 calendar months—but it’s just speculation. The text is abundant in monologues that make the text an easy read. Hidden instincts of the characters, which are among key symbols in “Lord of the Flies”, unfold in the pages chapter by chapter, demonstrating that people are able to adapt all too well to the absence of external constraints.

Summary of Chapter 1: The Sound of the Shell

The events begin on the island where two boys – Ralph and Piggy – talk about the plane crash that landed them here. Piggy doubts that anybody is coming to their rescue since he heard something about an atomic bomb during the flight, and therefore believes that the whole world has been destroyed and that they are all alone.  The boys talk a little bit about themselves – Ralph talks about how his father is “a commander in the Navy. When he gets leave he’ll come and rescue us” (Chapter 1). Piggy is the complete opposite to Ralph, he says that: “I used to live with my auntie. She kept a candy store. I used to get ever so many candies. As many as I liked” (Chapter 1). He is chubby, suffers from asthma, and doesn’t know how to swim.

He uses the shell to call a general meeting. Other kids come from around the island—among them are the members of the boys’ choir led by Jack Merridew. Jack obviously has a lot of authority among his “group of cloaked boys”. All in all the boys seem disappointed that there are no grown-ups on the island. They discuss the need to organize themselves. Since Ralph was the onSummary of Chapter


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