24 April 2023
Lord of the Flies: Summary, Themes, Characters, Quotes, and Literary Devices
Lord of the Flies is a modern classic about several British boys that find themselves stranded on an uninhabited island. Events take place during some form of military conflict that is evocative of World War II—though this is never specified. The actors in Lord of the Flies are being evacuated to an unnamed place as a nuclear war takes place.
The terror begins when their plane unfortunately crashes after being attacked and is dragged out to sea. They are the only survivors of this plane crash. Keep in mind that none of them is a young adult or any adult really. They're all kids. This is how Golding introduces us to the unfamiliar island and the boys that find themselves on it.
William Golding's book looks to portray human nature as intricately nasty and savage. Was he right? Read on to see how the author used a bunch of kids to showcase humanity at its worst. This is your one-stop-shop for the Lord of the Flies Summary, Themes, Characters, Quotes, and Literary Devices. By the end of this article, you'll know everything there is to know about the Lord of the Flies.
Lord of the Flies Summary
Lord of the flies is an interesting and disturbing book about savagery. A group of school boys ends up on a deserted island without adults after their plane crashes. They try to govern themselves, and to maintain order and civility; but they ultimately fail. Descending into violence and brutality. We'll explore each chapter of the book to see the sequence of events that lead to Golding's ultimate conclusion about humanity's shackled animosity.
- Chapter 1: The Sound of the Shell
- Chapter 2: Fire on the Mountain
- Chapter 3: Huts on the Beach
- Chapter 4: Painted Faces and Long Hair
- Chapter 5: Beast from Water
- Chapter 6: Beast from Air
- Chapter 7: Shadows and Tall Trees
- Chapter 8: Gift for the Darkness
- Chapter 9: A View to a Death
- Chapter 10: The Shell and the Glasses
- Chapter 11: Castle Rock
- Chapter 12: Cry of the Hunters
Chapter 1: The Sound of the Shell
At the beginning of the book, a fair boy named Ralph, and a fat boy called Piggy meet on a desert island in the Pacific. They were on a plane with a group of boys who were being evacuated from England because of a war. But the plane was attacked and crashed on the island. While they were in the air, they heard that an atomic bomb exploded in England. So we know that a nuclear war is taking place.
They find a conch shell and Ralph blows into it like a trumpet. The sound calls all the other boys who are on the plane out of the jungle. No adults have survived the crash, just boys between the ages of 6 and 12. Ralph is the oldest and biggest boy on the island. He's 12.
Eventually, a whole choir comes out of the jungle led by a boy named Jack. The boys decide to vote for a chief and they all pick Ralph. He's beautiful and seems like a natural leader, especially because he called them with the conch. Jack is not happy about being voted down; though, in fact, he's humiliated. Ralph likes him and wants to be friends. So he says Jack's in charge of the choir, and the choir will be hunters.
Ralph takes Simon and Jack up to the top of the mountain and they find out that they're on an island. They also find out there are pigs there that they can hunt but the first one they see gets away.
Chapter 2: Fire on the Mountain
After being elected chief, Ralph calls another assembly with the conch shell that has now become part of the tribal ritual. He tells everyone that they're on an island and they're alone. No one knows where they are.
The boys are lucky, however. It’s a good island with food, water, and pigs that they can hunt. Ralph makes the boys set a rule that when they have meetings the person holding the conch gets to speak, and the conch shell becomes an important symbol in the book. It represents civilization and order. Unfortunately, the positive picture Ralph tries to paint gets somewhat spoiled. One of the youngest boys, who isn’t even holding the conch, asks what Ralph is going to do about the snake thing or beast that the boy thinks is on the island.
Ralph says there is no beast but Jack says they’ll go hunting for it. This moment is really the root of all the problems in the book because this fear of a beast doesn’t go away. The boys can either deal with it Ralph’s way which is to conquer the fear through reason saying, “there isn’t a beast;” or Jack’s way, which is to say, “we’re part of a tribe, we’re hunters, together we’re strong enough to hunt and kill the beast.” This is an indication of the leadership differences between Ralph and Jack.
Ralph tells them that they need to light a small fire on the mountain to make smoke so that if a ship passes by, they’ll be rescued. Before he can organize anything, the boys rush off to the top of the mountain and make a huge bonfire. They use piggy’s spectacles to light it. The fire gets out of control and burns a big patch of jungle including what they would have used as firewood. Piggy accuses the boys of acting like kids, rebuking them for being out of control. He points out that the boy with the Mulberry birthmark was playing around when the jungle fire started and now he’s disappeared. No one ever sees him again.
Chapter 3: Huts on the Beach
Jack spends his time hunting for pigs and even after the other hunters get tired, and drift off to swim and play, he keeps hunting; though he doesn’t catch anything. Ralph organizes the other boys to build shelters but everyone drifts off to play and swim too, leaving Ralph to struggle with the last shelter. Simon, one of the oldest boys helps and does not follow the mindless masses. Jack and Ralph get into an argument because both of them are trying to do something important, both are frustrated and not getting enough help and neither can make the other understand. They agree that the shelters are important because the younger kids are all afraid of the beast and the shelters are like a home that will make them less scared.
A boy named Roger follows the little one named Henry off down the beach and starts throwing rocks at him. He’s making sure not to hit Henry but it’s clear that the idea of hurting or even killing Henry is exciting to Roger. So now we see another problem on the island. At least one of the boys is a sociopath by nature —and since there are no adults to enforce rules— it’s only a matter of time or circumstances before Roger realizes he can kill.
Jack figures out a way to paint his face. He thinks the pigs are running away from him because they see his pink face in the bushes. Once he puts on the paint, though, he feels free from any self-consciousness. He does a war dance and rounds up the rest of the hunters telling them they’ll form a line to trap one of the pigs. Jack does manage to kill a wild pig. But while he and the hunters are hunting, they let the signal fire burn out.
Down at the beach, Ralph sees smoke far off from a ship. But by the time he, Simon and Piggy run up to the mountains —where the fire was— it’s too late, and the ship is disappearing. Ralph confronts Jack about this failure, and while Jack gets respect from the other boys for getting them meat, he’s humiliated again. Jack can’t do anything to Ralph. But he smacks Piggy and breaks his glasses.
Chapter 4: Painted Faces and Long Hair
Ralph calls a meeting to set things straight since the boys are not doing their duties. Like keeping the fire going, or working on the shelters. He tries to lay down some rule. But then he opens a debate to discuss why they’re breaking apart as a group. He says it’s because people are becoming frightened. Ralph wants the boys to discuss why they’re afraid and asserts that they should agree that there’s no reason to be. But instead Jack takes the conch and says the other boys are frightened because they’re sissies and crybabies. Piggy disagrees and says that they’re actually afraid of each other.
Chapter 5: Beast from Water
Percival, one of the littluns suggests that the beast comes from the water, which terrifies everyone. Someone else says it’s a ghost. They have a vote on ghosts and it turns out that most of them believe in ghosts. Piggy yells at the other boys for being stupid. Jack tells him to shut up and fights with him over the conch. Jack tells Ralph to shut up too, saying he’s not a good chief and to hell with all the rules anyway. He says he’s not afraid of the beast because he’s strong and then he leads off with most of the other boys chanting and singing. At this point, it is clear that the boys’ imagination is spiraling out of control. They have given the beast actual characteristics and allowed it to dominate their minds.
Chapter 6: Beast from Air
That night, while everyone’s asleep, there’s an air battle high up in the sky and a dead man in a parachute falls onto the island near the mountain top. Sam and Eric —who are sleeping by the signal fire— see the parachute but think it’s the beast and run off to tell the others.
Ralph, Jack, and the older boys go looking for the beast at the one place they haven’t ever explored, Castle Rock —at the far end of the island. They don’t find any beast there, so they turn around and head for the mountain. As they’re on their way to the mountain, they stop to do some hunting and Ralph gets a taste of how fun it is. Afterwards, the boys do this dance where one of them pretends to be the pig and the other children pretend to attack him— which gets pretty violent.
When they finally get to the mountain, it’s dark. But Jack insists that they should keep going. Jack, Roger, and Ralph climb up in the dark and see the beast. The three boys run in terror back to camp.
Chapter 7: Shadows and Tall Trees
Jack tries to get the other boys to vote out Ralph as chief, but none of them do. He leaves, humiliated, saying he’s not going to play with them any longer. He says anyone who wants to hunt can come with him.
The boys build a new fire on the beach instead of the mountain. However, many of the older boys sneak away to join Jack. He and his hunters paint themselves with war paint and kill a sow. Jack and Roger put the head on a wooden pole that they stick in the ground. Jack and his tribe raid Ralph’s group to take fire. They then invite them for a feast, telling them that they can ask to join the tribe.
Simon —who often goes off by himself— sees the sow's head. He has an epileptic fit, but before he does, the head says that it’s the beast, also called the Lord of the flies. It laughs at him and says the beast is inside the boys, not something they can hunt and kill. Then Simon passes out.
Chapter 8: Gift for the Darkness
When Simon comes to, he goes to the mountain and sees what the dead parachute really is and hurries off to tell the others that there’s no beast.
Ralph and Piggy show up at Jack’s feast. All the other boys except Simon have already come there and most have joined Jack’s tribe. The new tribe leader allows Ralph and Piggy to eat and later makes all the boys do their pig hunting dance while they chant, “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” In the middle of this, Simon comes out of the forest to tell all them other kids about the man and the parachute. In a horrid twist, all the boys rush to kill him, including Ralph.
Chapter 9: A View to a Death
The next day, Ralph, Piggy, Sam, and Eric pretend that they weren’t part of what happened to Simon. That night, Jack and his hunters raid their former camp —still inhabiting Ralph, Piggy, Sam, and Eric— to steal piggy’s glasses so they can make fire.
Chapter 10: The Shell and the Glasses
The raided group have one last meeting with the conch and as they are sitting by the burned out signal fire, Piggy holds the conch. He says that he wants to go to Jack’s camp and demand his glasses back since it’s what’s right.
They go to Castle Rock and the boys won’t let them come in. Jack comes back from the jungle after hunting and has Sam and Eric seized and tied up. Jack and Ralph fight but Piggy speaks —holding the conch— and asks the boys whether it’s better to believe in rules, agreement, and getting rescued, or in hunting and breaking things up. While he’s talking, Roger dislodges a huge stone that shatters the conch and kills him. Jack throws his spear at Ralph who runs away. Jack and Roger then prepare to torture Sam and Eric who wish to leave in peace.
Chapter 11: Castle Rock
As the new tribe has a feast, Ralph talks to Sam and Eric who are now on lookout. They are now a part of Jack’s tribe. The twins are —particularly— affected by what’s happened to them at the hands of Roger, and they talked to Ralph about the danger that he is in. Ralph wants them to join him, but they’re too afraid to leave the tribe.
They tell Ralph that Roger has a sharpened stick, something he can’t bring himself to understand. Ralph’s going to be hunted, beheaded, and given as a gift to the beast. He’s too naïve to work this out and tells the boys that he’ll hide close to the tribes camp, where nobody would suspect.
Chapter 12: Cry of the Hunters
Many tutors would like to know if you can describe the reaction of the naval officer in chapter 12. Golding begins chapter 12 with Ralph speaking to the twins, Sam and Eric. Ralph hides close to Castle Rock but the twins give his position away when they’re put under duress by Jack. He lights the bushes on fire and the tribe forms a line to sweep across the island and find Ralph.
The boys start a fire to smoke him out and Ralph runs from them, fleeing in terror. At the very end of the novel, Ralph is chased to the beach, where he would be doomed if it wasn’t for a naval officer standing on the beach. He saw the smoke from the fire that was used to smoke out Ralph and has arrived to see if there are any survivors on the island.
On seeing the boys, he quickly learns that they are disorganized and are not playing. He is disappointed to see British children reduced to savagery rather than maintaining a semblance of civilization when left to their devices.
He asks the boys jokingly if anyone has died. Ralph tries to explain to the officer what happened and starts weeping. The other boys weep too. When he finds out that is the case, he turns away from them, unable to face the evil humanity is capable of.
Themes in Lord of the Flies
In Lord of the Flies, A group of British boys have to create a system of organization without a civilizing impulse. They come up with rules to govern themselves without adult supervision and eventually turn brutal and violent. What happens after the British aeroplane crashes demonstrates human savagery as the boys descend into chaos.
We've chosen to present the themes present in Golding's book to reiterate the author's ideology concerning human nature. Here's a list of the Lord of the Flies Themes with most impact to the story.
- Civilization versus savagery
- Mob mentality
- Absence of social norms
- Savage Nature versus Order
- The impact of humankind on nature
1. Civilization Versus Savagery
Chapter 3, “Huts on the beach”, begins with two concrete images, the beach and the huts. Obviously, the huts are more important in this chapter so let us take you through some observations concerning one of the most impactful Lord of the Flies themes.
First of all, we start the chapter with Jack’s hunt. It is intense as he is trying to find a pig and stab it. Jack misses and comes out of the forest. We then see two boys —Ralph and Simon— working on the huts. Ralph is having trouble finishing up the huts. He had a lot of help with the first one, a little help with the second, and only Simon’s help with the third. This shows the deterioration of order on the island. It also shows the desire for home, but not necessarily a willingness to work for a home, which the huts may represent.
This chapter has an antagonism between Jack and Ralph. In fact, on page 51, Golding says “now the antagonism was audible” as Ralph is frustrated with the lack of help for the huts. Ralph angrily confronts Jack, making the antagonist frustrated because he hasn’t killed a pig yet, and Ralph is talking badly about his hunters. By the time you come to the end of the chapter, Ralph and Jack are likened to two continents— on page 55.
2. Mob Mentality
At this point, fear and arguments have broken out among the boys again. Jack tells Piggy and Ralph to shut up. He doesn’t care about the rules. He says he will hunt down the beast and leaves asking other boys to follow, if they dare.
Piggy tells Ralph to use the conch to reconvene the boys to organize the meeting. However, Ralph doesn’t do so but believes that if the boys don’t come back, failure to restore order will doom them all. Ralph considers relinquishing chieftainship but Piggy and Simon convince him not to. He continues being bothered by his leadership role and wants civilization back. Ralph wants to be a successful leader but he is still a young boy. He doesn’t exactly know what he’s doing and is worried about losing his control over the boys. Soon, human evil rears its head as the boys kill Simon in their fictional world involving a beast. The younger boys struggle to even remember their homes. Since Ralph represents civilization, his desire to take a human life when he resorts to savage impulses shows that the boys have completely abandoned civilized society in their own hearts.
The early chapters show the main characters acting well behaved. As time passes, however, and the memory of a passing ship is long forgotten, the whole island turns savage and all hopes for setting up social norms are abandoned. The boys turn cold as Jack and Roger's true nature emerges, making the British boys a cautionary tale to others that retain their childhood innocence. Human beings are peculiar characters. The human psyche is malleable, especially when they are young. This demonstrates that failure to instill discipline and a sense of morality voids a community of future leaders.
3. Absence of Social Norms
This is the most influential among all the Lord of the Flies themes. We see the fear of the beast manifesting and growing in different forms. Simon and Piggy try to explain that the fear lies within them. This represents Golding’s theory that human nature is savage and unforgiving. We see that especially coming out with Jack and the fear he uses to gain power that he longs for. By claiming he can kill the beast, he seems heroic. Safety comes before civilization. The combination of being able to feed and protect the boys makes Jack seem like an obvious leader so he’s now testing the boundaries of who the boys want to see in charge.
The rescue is seeming more improbable as the boys begin to spiral away from their central idea of having a signal fire when the ‘littlun’, Percival says that he’s seen the beast in the water. He’ll later have problems identifying himself and where he comes from. This shows us that memory is fallible. The boys are not only forgetting their own lives and identities off the island; they’re also forgetting that things never really were that good here.
4. Savage Nature Versus Order
Everyone except Simon neglects moral behavior when they don’t have civilization suppressing their savagery. None of the boys is innately moral. In contrast, we can say the fear of punishment and adult supervision has conditioned them to act civilized. Social conditioning’s work is seen at play even in Ralph and Piggy as they take part in the hunt-dance willingly.
Golding does not see humanity’s push towards civilization as innate as people’s impulse to commit savage acts. Simon is different from the other boys on the island as he acts morally. He does not base his actions on shame or guilt but rather an inherent belief in the value of morality.
5. The Impact of Humankind on Nature
Ralph and his company's plane is shot down as they are evacuated from a boarding school in Britain. The boys crash on an uninhabited island paradise. They immediately set about destroying the island.
The first instance of humankind's impact on nature is the huge crash site, named the "scar" by Golding. It destroys the pristine nature of the island that has remained free of humanity's influence prior to the boys' arrival.
Jack and his group accidentally set fire to part of the island as they do not tend to the fire at the beginning of the novel. Neglecting responsibility is an innate part of human beings that has terrible consequences. A burn at capitalism, Jack's intent to fulfill his own desire leads to loss for the company. They also kill a small boy in the ordeal.
Simon's beautiful spot of meditation is tainted by a pig's head on a spike. Rather than admire the island's beauty, the boys manifest a beast and create evil rites to satiate the beast. The final nail to the coffin for the island paradise is when Jack and his camp burn the island as they chase Ralph to the beach at the end of the novel. We'd only hope that it recovers as the ungrateful human beings survive off it and leave it in ash.
Fear is the overarching theme in Lord of the Flies. This irrational fear begins with the younger boys and eventually spreads to the older boys. It's the only reasonable explanation to the question, "how has Ralph changed since being on the island?" He's grown fearful as have the others, leading to irrational decisions fueled by fear that lead to Simon's death.
In chapter 5, Ralph blows the conch and we see him on the beach thinking about what he wants to say during the meeting. When it begins, he says they need to put things straight and admonishes the boys for not following the rules. He says there should only be one main rule now. The fire on the mountain stays lit! Ralph expresses his frustration and says that things are falling apart. He doesn’t understand why and says that they began well and were happy. As we can see, Ralph tries to keep the group happy.
He says that the boys need to stop being so afraid of this beast. Piggy and Jack confirm that there is no beast at all. However, one of the youngest boys -Phil- says he saw something the previous night. Simon admits he likes to go off in the jungle sometimes but then another little boy starts crying, causing all the littluns' to start crying as well. Jack grabs him, asking where the beast is. He says it comes from the ocean. This illogical sequence of events drives the children's society from then onwards.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding | Character Descriptions
This character analysis guide allows you to look at Golding's work from a different light. You need to consider what the author meant and the implications of his work to real life. We'll now take a look at different characters and how they elicit William Golding's notion concerning human behavior.
Let's look at the most significant characters, quotes, and literary techniques in lord of the flies to help us understand the story better.
Lord of the Flies Character Analysis
Lord of the Flies features very peculiar boys. Golding's assumption about humanity's innate darkness is manifested in how the boys from Britain interact with each other and the island. We'll address each character and some quotes they expressed over the course of the book that help explain their character.
- Jack Merridew
- Sam and Eric
Ralph’s character truly begins emerging as the boys form a social hierarchy. He is voted for as leader by the other boys stranded on the desert island with him. Let us avoid talking about his competition, a boy called Jack- who is desperate to be the chief. Ralph gives him control of the hunters, which is a bad move, and then he fails to stand up for piggy when Jack abuses him. So we can tell that he’s going to struggle to be an effective leader and we can see there’s to going be a power struggle between Ralph and Jack early on. Ralph gives the boys false hope by telling them that his father would be looking for them, and that his ship is likely on its way. Nonetheless, Ralph has some good ideas.
He comes up with a great idea about making a fire that will alert passing ships and boats to their presence. Jack botches this and they lose an opportunity as a ship passes close to the island. The ship is almost on the horizon when Ralph realizes that the signal fire that Jack, at that point, was meant to keep going, has gone out. The boat disappears and then Jack, with his hunters, covered in face paint, and with a dead pig, arrives! So we can see things are slipping out of Ralph’s control at that moment and we think he begins to realize that too.
Jack Summons his Inner Savage
Ralph starts to quite obviously lose his power and influence over the boys to Jack. He argues with Jack about his failure to keep the fire going and the latter gets furious. He punches Piggy, breaking his glasses. Ralph doesn’t stand up to Jack effectively at this moment. That evening Jack looks increasingly powerful, feeding the group his kill. Ralph eats Jack's meat like a wolf which is there to suggest that he’s losing his power and influence, and perhaps his humanity at that point.
Ralph might be the hero of the novel but he has a dark side. The boys come to believe there’s a beast living on the island and they go hunting for it. Whilst they’re out, Ralph nearly kills a pig and is thrilled. He’s then involved in a game where they “kill the pig” which involves poking a boy called Robert with spears. Ralph takes a lot of pleasure in doing so. Another significant moment in the novel which involves all of the characters on the island is the murder of Simon.
Simon's death is a good illustration of society's impact on Ralph. Jack starts a new tribe and has a feast. Ralph and his tribe join them and a wild dance takes place in the evening. Simon comes running from the trees to tell the boys that the beast was actually a dead pilot. They assume he’s the beast and kill him. Ralph is involved in this moment and later refers to it as murder.
At the end of the novel Ralph is hunted. This begins when Jack’s tribe raids Ralph’s and steals Piggy’s glasses. Their attempt to get them back leads to Piggy being killed. Sam and Eric -who are now part of Jack’s tribe after being taken hostage- tell Ralph that he’s to be hunted the next day. He can’t work out why Roger has sharpened a stick at both ends, which the audience knows is to impale his head as an offering to the beast. They will kill Ralph and decapitate him. But he’s unable to put that together.
At the very end, Ralph is saved after being hunted to the edge of the beach. Jack and his group set most of the island on fire to force Ralph into the open. He collapses on the sand in front of a naval officer who’s seen the smoke coming from the island and the novel ends with Ralph weeping uncontrollably.
Lord of the Flies Ralph's Character Analysis Through Quotes
Golding allows the reader to accurately perceive a boy from the island by showing us their traits from early in the text. These snippets allow us to gain a glimpse into how Ralph sees their situation and what they may do about it. Let's take a look at some Lord of the Flies quotes from Ralph.
“His name’s not Fatty, it’s Piggy!”
This is what Ralph says at the beginning of the novel when Jack is rude to Piggy. He doesn’t stand up for Piggy and that shows us he will struggle to be an effective leader.
“Daddy’s ship” “My father”
He talks about his father’s ship which is idealistic. It gives the boys calls hope but there is a change in Ralph later after a ship nearly rescues them and disappears over the horizon. He does not refer to him as “daddy” anymore but as his “father” which shows that there’s a little bit more of a change in character. Ralph is becoming more of a mature person. Perhaps. But at that point, it’s too late, because Jack is already taking over on the island.
“This is a good island.”
This key quote shows how idealistic Ralph is.
“That was a dirty trick.”
This is what Ralph says to Jack when he punches Piggy. He is not really able to effectively stand up to him. He then eats Jack’s meat like a wolf which reflects his slipping grasp on his power.
“Like a wolf.”
This quote shows Ralph’s descent into savagery as he loses touch with civilization.
“The desire to squeeze and hurt was overmastering”
Ralph is involved in harming Robert and enjoys doing it. He takes part in a frenzied game where they chant and poke at Robert with sticks.
“There were no words and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws.”
Simon’s death is brutal. The boys effectively become the thing that they all feared in the novel, the beast. This is actually the evil within a soul, where the phrase is an ironic echo to the beast. They describe it as having teeth and claws earlier on, before they murder Simon.
“Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness in man’s heart, and the fall through the air of a true wise friend called Piggy.”
The presence of an authority figure, an adult, is enough to snap the boys back to reality. Each of the boys weeps, even Roger, and Jack-who’d earlier on called scared boys sissies-showing that each person has a darkness within them, the beast.
Knowing those key moments involving Ralph lets us understand him as a character. While he is an idealistic leader, he is ineffective and unrealistic. He makes terrible judgment calls, beginning with handing over the military to his rival! Ultimately, Ralph’s unrealistic expectations gets Piggy, Simon, and an unnamed boy killed, and almost makes him face the same fate.
Piggy represents civilization, logic, rationality, arguably, you could also say science. This is his wheelhouse. He’s an interesting character because he speaks with a bit of an accent. His English is not perfect. He says stuff like “we was gonna do this” or “we done that.” His grammar is a bit broken but his intelligence is not broken at all. I would say he’s the most intelligent boy on the island.
Piggy has a tragic background. His parents have died and he’s living with his auntie back in England. He’s rejected by all of the boys on the island but he also seems to have been rejected by all of the children he went to school with. Piggy’s generally a bit of a reject.
Unfortunately, he’s also physically weak but very strong mentally. However, he is also somewhat a little bit cowardly to some extent. He doesn’t really stand up to Jack and is afraid of him to some level. That’s one of the reasons why the island turns to savagery. Because the boy that represents civilization are, to some extent, weaker than the boy who represents savagery.
Sadly, Piggy’s woes do not end there. In addition to being physically weak, he’s got asthma and is also bespectacled. Piggy inadvertently dies because of his visual impairment as they demand them from Jack’s camp.
Golding shows his decline and his eventual death beginning with one of the lenses of his glasses getting broken. He can’t see perfectly well and then has his glasses stolen when Jack raids their camp. So Piggy’s literally staggering around the island, basically blind and then he dies when he’s crushed by a boulder which is very very sad. His death is very important because it signifies the end of civilization.
Piggy constantly gives Ralph advice. So, we have a much smarter, more logical boy, compared to the rest, guiding the camp’s leader. Ralph does a bit of a better job as chief in his own right and also grows as a character, but Piggy is one of the biggest catalysts of that. He helps accelerate development in Ralph’s character and helps us answer the question, "how has Ralph changed since being on the island?" His death signifies the end of civilization because it’s not just him that dies. The conch also shatters, an object that in many ways, represents piggy.
Piggy discovers the conch and uses it to manipulate the boys to get a chance to speak. If he’s holding the conch -despite not liking him- they accept that in the rules that they’ve created in this society, he has the right to hold the floor, and to speak. The conch is a vivid pink color when they first discover it and by the end it’s blistered into this kind of bleached white color. So it’s lost power in the same way piggy has; there is a parallel between them. When Piggy dies, he’s holding the conch and it gets shattered alongside him. The conch’s explosion into tons of fragments signifies the end of civilization.
Jack shows no remorse for Piggy’s death. His reaction is “that’s what you’ll get” to Ralph for challenging his authority. This is the real end of any form of morality, as well, because Jack kidnaps Sam and Eric and forces them to join his tribe. Ralph is left alone to defend himself against the rest of the boys on the island. They plan on hunting him, cutting his head off, and offering it to the Lord of the flies. So really, this is the end of any rationality, any logic, and any civilization in the boys. It’s their full descent into unbridled savagery.
Piggy is also a deuteragonist. It’s really what we would call a sidekick character. They’re not the main character, but they’re friends with and close to them. Now Ralph doesn’t really like Piggy that much but he understands he needs someone like him. Piggy is dynamic because he tries to adapt to the circumstances that they’re presented with on the island.
Piggy quotes with page numbers
We'll now take a look at some Lord of the Flies quotes from Piggy.
“Didn’t you hear what the pilot said? About the atom bomb? They’re all dead.” (14).
Piggy mentions the global war to Ralph in the first chapter. This gives us a glimpse of how humankind would live after the next world war if everyone outside the island died. The boys’ society helps us understand how society may look like after the world experienced a cataclysmic nuclear event. The small-scale version of humanity devolves to war and violence. They quickly degenerate into tribalism and intolerance that ultimately causes war. This does not bode well for mankind as the species’ proclivity for war makes it impossible to correct the course after a worldwide disaster.
“But Piggy, for all his ludicrous body, had brains.” (78).
This is a quote that shows piggy is intelligent. We see a juxtaposition of Piggy’s body and brains, albeit using insulting language. As I mentioned earlier, he is physically weak but intelligent, so he has value through his intelligence. Jack has no time for Piggy’s intelligence. It’s one of the reasons why he hates Piggy. He is smart enough to actually outthink Jack and say things about what he wants to do which actually undermine Jack’ss authority. This is one of the main reasons he hates Piggy. Piggy is an outsider, not only because of his accent, which does not matter, but because he’s a fat boy and has glasses and has a certain disinclination to manual labour.
“Now you done it. You been rude about his hunters.” (137).
Piggy is very intuitive and recognizes that Ralph's insult concerning Jack’s hunters will prove detrimental for the boys. Piggy is one of the most sensitive boys on the island and understands that Jack is prideful. Ralph wounded him, especially when his insult was directed at his ability to provide meat for the camp. Piggy’s intuition allows him to sense that this conflict will evolve into something bad. Jack's group will eventually steal Piggy's glasses and hunt the fair boy as the boys begin to fully embrace their savagery without any form of remorse or guilt.
“Come away. There’s going to be trouble. And we’ve had our meat.” (151).
This is the second biggest warning Piggy gives to Ralph. He senses there may be some form of sadistic entertainment after the feast on Castle Rock. He is, unfortunately, proven right as Simon stumbles into the war circle from the forest and is brutally killed by the boys, including Ralph and Piggy. They are lured by inherent human cruelty and mob mentality.
“That's right. We was on the outside. We never done nothing, we never seen nothing.” (158).
Ralph and Piggy reconvene on the morning after Simon’s death to discuss what happened the previous evening. Ralph calls it plain and simple –murder – Piggy is unable to admit his culpability by trying to maintain his dignity and humanity, insisting that they did not do or see anything.
Now that we're done with quotes by Piggy from Lord of the Flies, we'll now look at another character, Jack, and later we'll provide some jack quotes from Lord of the Flies with page numbers.
3. Jack Merridew
We can confidently say that Jack, the egomaniacal, strong-willed boy, is Ralph’s antithesis. He represents the boys’ instincts for violence, savagery, and power. His obsession with power is evident from the start. Jack is furious when Ralph is elected leader and frequently pushes his role’s boundaries within the group. Early on, he maintains a nuance of moral behavior and propriety instilled in him by society—he was the choirboys’ leader in school, after all.
Jack is unable to kill a pig the first time he sees one but is soon obsessed with hunting and devotes all his time to the role of provider. He comes up with the idea to paint his face like a barbarian to sneak up on the pig and gives in to his blood-lust. As he gets more savage, he gains more control over the other boys, reinforcing his savagery.
We must note that the boys largely follow Jack in shedding off any guilt and moral restraint, embracing savagery and violence. We say this largely because Simon, Ralph and Piggy still believe in civilization. Jack’s love for power and violence and is intricately connected, making him feel a double surge of control and exaltation when he exercises control over the other boys. By the end of the novel, he has learned to use the beast effectively and controls their behavior —a grisly reminder of how superstition and religion are dangerous tools of power in the hands of an evil person.
Jack: Important Quotes in Lord of the Flies
Here are several instances that help portray Jack's character. We'll now look at quotes on Jack, Lord of the Flies.
“I ought to be chief...because I'm chapter chorister and head of choir boy now. I can sing C sharp.”
Jack declares his natural leadership using arbitrary prerequisites. However, he fails to gain Piggy’s crucial vote, losing the leadership position to Ralph. The still green leader allows Jack to maintain control over the choir boys. While Jack possesses innate leadership skills, Ralph bests him in charm. He also wants to create certain rules to ensure they maintain civility.
“His specs – use them as burning glasses!”
Jack realizes they can use Piggy’s glasses to start a fire. He aggressively takes them from Piggy’s face, foreshadowing their importance to the camp, and the boys’ survival. They also show that Jack is physically stronger than Piggy.
“I agree with Ralph. We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything. So we’ve got to do the right things.”
Jack’s assertion about British civilization's superiority leads to tribalism. It is ironic that Jack says they should adhere to British civilization rules since he and his followers quickly abandon societal constraints and allow savagery to take over. His convictions are not based on being human but British. The British naval officer arrives and his disappointment mirrors Jack’s example of Britain as their “society’s” model civilization. He sees the British boys reduced to savages.
“I thought I might kill.”
Jack decides to hunt and when he comes back from a hunt, he tells Ralph it was unsuccessful. Ralph’s frustration with him for not helping out around camp is mirrored by Jack’s frustration for not killing the pig. Jack is under constant pressure to either catch a pig or help with shelter building. There is a growing tension between Ralph and Jack since they have diverging motivations.
“Eat! Damn you!”
When Jack finally kills a pig, he angrily tells the boys to eat to acknowledge his achievement. He is a successful hunter and can provide for the group. He notices that using rage makes the other boys respect him. This is his first time recognizing that he lusts for control over others and power. Jack will hone this anger and fear it magnifies, to motivate the group and inspire their allegiance. He’ll eventually take over the island and, guided by rage, consume it.
“Bollocks to the rules! We’re strong – we hunt! If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat and beat and beat - !”
Jack believes that hunting is more important than listening to Ralph and following his rules. He values hunting and killing more than helping out at camp. His obsession with hunting is greater than his desire for civilization and order on the island. Jack’s hunger for power and control over the other boys is evident as he starts creating an authoritarian system built around barbarity and hunting.
“I’m not going to play anymore. Not with you...I’m not going to be a part of Ralph’s lot—”
Jack is embarrassed and hurt after his hunters are belittled by Ralph. He leaves the group and goes off alone. His tears and wording, “play” remind the audience that despite acting like young adults here, the characters are children. He is humiliated and we can directly trace his later violence to this incident when he learns that using fear makes the other boys take him seriously.
“Sharpen a stick at both ends.”
Jack’s savagery is apparent when he tells Roger to sharpen a stick at both ends in a brutal hunting scene. He intends to mount the dead pig’s head on it and leave it as an offering to the beast. Simon later has a hallucinogenic conversation with the head as it becomes the Lord of the Flies. Jack and Roger sharpen a second stick in the final chapter. Golding does not explicitly state their intentions but we can infer that they’ll mount Ralph’s head on it and offer it to the beast.
“No! How could we--kill--it?”
On the day after Simon’s death, Jack asks Stanley how they could possibly kill the beast. They all quietly suspect they killed Simon. But Jack, as with Ralph on the other side of the island, adamantly denies their actions, saying they killed the beast, not Simon. He needs the group to fear the beast to maintain his grip on power. Jack instructs his hunters to prepare an offering in case it returns in the form of someone or something else.
Simon is on a different plane of thought from Ralph, Jack, and pretty much every other boy. He does not represent savagery or civilization, but rather an innate spirituality and human goodness that is deeply rooted in nature. You could say his character is primal, similar to Jack’s but on the opposite spectrum.
Simon is kind to the little children and is the first to recognize the danger posed by the Lord of the Flies and the beast. His solitude exploration of the island leads him to the truth, that the supposed monster itself is not real, but rather a human darkness and savagery that lurks within all of us. Jack and Roger’s decision to stake the pig’s head on a pike symbolizes this notion as we can see in Simon’s hallucination when the head speaks to him.
Ultimately, Golding concludes with this moral idea of innate evil in all people that is the primary problem in his book. Simon is a contrast to this notion of evil, representing the innate goodness of humanity. His brutal murder serves to show the rarity of that good as the other boys represent an overwhelming volume of evil.
Golding presents Roger as a quiet and intense boy. He is one of the older boys and eventually becomes brutal and sadistic. Midway through Golding’s narration, Roger turns into a real villain, his cruelty surfacing as he terrorizes Henry, the littlun, by throwing stones at him. Roger is still bound to societal rules and makes sure the rocks land a safe distance from the child. However, we can see that it is only a matter of time before he realizes he is unbound by societal constraints as his moral code is broken.
Jack’s ascension to power makes Roger believe that his brutal and violent nature will make him an effective and powerful leader. He does not question Jack when he intends to torture Wilfred without a sound reason. All he can think about is “the possibilities of irresponsible authority.” He does not care about helping Wilfred nor Jack’s reasons for doing so.
Roger ultimately allows “senseless violence” to take over and in “delirious abandonment, pushes the boulder that smashes into Piggy. His moral code totally abandoned at this point, he turns his attention to Sam and Eric, threatening them with torture. They would later tell Ralph, “You don’t know Roger. He’s a terror.”
6. Sam and Eric
Golding introduces Sam and Eric, twin older boys on the island, as one entity. They largely remain loyal to Ralph throughout the entire book and are easily excited. It’s interesting to see them finishing each other’s sentences and living within their cocoon, away from the other boys.
Sam and Eric participate in Simon’s murder but insist they returned to their camp early and did not take place in the latter stages of the hunt dance. We can clearly see they are ashamed to admit they took part in this savage act. When Jack leaves to start his own tribe at Castle rock, the twins are among the few boys that remain with Ralph to maintain a fire and take care of the littluns.
Sam and Eric bravely join Ralph and Piggy to get the latter’s glasses from Jack’s tribe. They try to warn Ralph about who they are about to face, Jack and Roger drunk on power and blood-lust, but are physically beaten the next day, revealing where Ralph is hiding, in the underbrush.
We'll now transition to the top quotes used by Golding in his novel.
Top 10 Quotes from Lord of the Flies with Page Numbers
In the next few minutes I’ll use ten Lord of the Flies quotes to help you understand the key themes, main message, and literary devices used in the Lord of the Flies as you prepare for test essays and exams.
1. “All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat.” P.1. The sound of the shell.
The first thing to say is that this quote tells us the story will be something other than a traditional boys' adventure story like Coral island. Golding describes the boys' arrival as a scar on the beautiful landscape. Literally, it refers to where the plane has crashed, clearing a path through the trees. A bath of heat suggests the indentation caused by the plane was deep and hot. Fire imagery is used frequently in this story.
2. “The creature was a party of boys.”p.15. The sound of the shell.
This is how Golding introduces the choir boys led by Jack. It is also a quote about Ralph and Jack's leadership battle. You may think of choirboys as highly civilized but the author describes them as a creature. This gives us a hint that when the boys form a group, they can develop animalistic tendencies and a mob mentality. I say “can” develop because although savagery is a key theme in this book, it is not inevitable. The battle in the story revolves around who can control the boys. Will it be Ralph? Who is described as mild and fair, or Jack? Who is described as ugly, arrogant and angry.
3. “We must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire. A fire! Make a fire!” p.37. Fire on the mountain.
Ralph has one main goal. He wants to create a smoke signal that is visible to passing ships and the boys can be rescued. But the boys lose sight of the goal and get carried away, building a huge fire that burns part of the jungle and kills one of the young boys in the process. This tells us that the boys are looking for excitement and that getting them to keep a small smoky fire going will eventually become problematic.
4. “Rescue? Yes, of course! all the same, I’d like to catch a pig first.” p.54. Huts on the beach.
Jack seems to agree that being rescued is important but notice the question. “Rescue?” He has to think about it before being able to remember. That’s because it isn’t Jack’s real focus. He wants to hunt and kill a pig. So we can infer from this quote that Jack is not very interested in being rescued and that of course is why the fire soon goes out and the opportunity to be rescued will be missed.
5. “Round the squatting child was the protection of parents, and school, and policemen, and the law.” p.65. Painted faces and the long hair.
Descent into savagery is a theme of this book but the boys don’t immediately begin attacking each other. Their behavior is initially moderated by the memory of the rules they had been taught in England. You’ll notice this is a vigorous speech called polysyndeton and it reinforces the way society has several ways to temper our worst tendencies. Here we have four ways by which we’re educated to behave well.
- · Parents
- · Schools
- · Police
- · Force of law
The memory of these forms of authority is enough at the beginning of the story. It protects one of the little boys, Henry, from being harmed by Roger, who only throws stones near him, but doesn’t actually hit him. We might note that this constraint will, of course, not last.
6. “When Roger opened his eyes and saw Jack, a darker shadow crypt beneath the swarthiness of his skin. p.65. Painted faces and the long hair.
Roger is possibly the most sinister character in this book and here Golding uses a metaphor to suggest Roger’s evil side. Almost all of the Lord of the Flies quotes about savagery are related to Roger! Some integral quotes from Lord of the Flies about the beast are attributed to Roger, arguably the disturbing parts! Golding uses a cold metaphor to explain Roger's entrance in the narrative.
He describes Roger as a shadow that creeps beneath the swarthy or dark skin. The choice of verb “creeps,” a word associated with being furtive, meaning secretive, is interesting. He’s hidden a darker or sadistic side that gradually emerges. Roger will torture a pig by jamming a sharp stick further and further inside it. He will kill Piggy, and he will sharpen the stick at both ends presumably to display Ralph’s head after they kill him.
7. “Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill!” said the head. P.158. Gift for the darkness.
Simon, the kindest character in the story, suffers a fit whilst hiding away near the location where the boys kill a pig. Hallucinating, he sees the pig’s head impaled on the stick and thinks that it is talking to him. The rotting head is literally covered in flies but it’s the connotation of this name that really matters. The Lord of the flies is another name for the devil and the head tells Simon a terrible truth. The beast is not outside us but inside us and that is why it can never be killed. As long as humans are alive, the potential for evil always exists. It can only be suppressed, resisted, and controlled.
8. “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” p.168. A view to death.
The boys are fearful. During a storm, they chant “kill the beast” to create a sense of togetherness. They chant this incantation five times and then murder Simon who ironically was coming out of the forest to tell them that the supposed beast was only a dead air man. Notice that this attack is something that they have rehearsed twice before, pretending that Morris was a wild pig, and attacking him but not hurting him. Second, they attack Robert and physically harm him. This time they are so fearful that in a frenzy they seem to confuse Simon with the beast and do not stop until they have killed him.
9. “The rock struck piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.” P.200. Castle rock.
If the death of Simon can be explained by fear and frenzy, no such excuse can be made for the murder of piggy. This killing is conscious and cold blooded. Looking down from high above, Roger rolls a huge boulder on Piggy, killing him and destroying the conch. This is relevant because piggy is a symbol of rational thought and the conch was the symbol of authority and cooperation. Savagery now rules. In addition, before he rolls the stone, we are told that Roger viewed Piggy as a bag of fat. This takes away his human qualities and makes it easier for Roger to kill him.
10. “you don’t know Roger. he’s a terror-
-and the chief
p.210. Cry of the hunters.
At the end of the story, having been captured by the hunters, the twins, Sam and Eric, now realize the threat posed by Jack and Roger. They begin with Roger. “You don’t know Roger.” This chimes with how Golding described him in chapter one, “a slight furtive boy who no one knew.” Now they have good reason to be frightened of Roger and Jack. Wilfred was beaten by Jack for no apparent reason and Roger has committed murder. Roger and Jack retain power through fear, not fun and the final chapter only leads us to think that Roger is the worst of the two.
Finally, a quick bonus quote.
11. “Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.” p.225. Cry of the hunters.
At the climax of the story, Ralph narrowly avoids being murdered. But he is no longer the carefree boy who arrived on the island, doing handstands on Golding’s beaches and swimming in clear blue seas. Ralph now knows that humans are capable of extreme cruelty from a young age. But note that the moral of this story is not that all humans are savage, but that we all have the capacity for savagery. So when we see prejudice, mockery, and violence, as used against Simon and Piggy in particular, we should not stand by and allow it to happen. We must resist it because eventually that savagery spreads and it will affect us all as Ralph discovered.
Ralph wants shelters and to be rescued. In contrast, Jack wants to explore the island. Who can be deemed ethically right as shelter and food are both important to the boys? These are things that hopefully you’re considering as you read and think about this novel.
Lord of the Flies Literary Devices
As with exquisitely detailed Lord of the Flies themes and vibrant characters, Lord of the Flies is chock-full of literary devices that further accentuate Golding's excellence.Here is a list of what this section will cover.
William Golding uses a mix of vivid action scenes and melodious descriptions of nature. He also uses dialogue to fuel his increasingly foreboding style that mirrors the group's and later, two groups, descent into violence and chaos.
It begins with a clear description of the island after the plane crash. Stranded in the pacific ocean, the fair haired boy, Ralph, looks around. Golding describes it in this way, "all round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat…a bird, a vision of red and yellow, flashed upward with a witch-like cry.”
The author uses generic words such as "jungle", "boy", and "bird" as well as metaphors to showcase some sort of dislocation in the text's reader. This thought provoking style leaves the audience wondering:
- Where is he?
- Who is this boy?
- What is this "scar?"
- What caused the scar?
We can immediately identify with the stylistic choices used by Golding to define the boys on the island. They are probably wondering the same thing at this point in the story. We must look at the comparisons used by Golding up to this point and determine if they foreshadow what is to come as the story progresses. Here are the most important comparisons.
- The plane crash site is compared to a scar
- A bird is likened to a witch
These depictions elicit an ominous perception that despite the area's natural beauty, the island has various threats. It also depicts that the boys' will leave with a scar from their experience on the island.
Golding uses a somewhat aloof tone that alleviates a sense of closeness with events in the narrative. None of the boys generally expresses sympathy towards the rest. Similarly, Golding uses a tone that does not express sympathy or shock towards anything that happens.
The death of Piggy and Simon are told in a matter-of-fact tone. For instance, Golding says, "Piggy fell forty feet and landed on his back across the square red rock in the sea. His head opened, and stuff came out and turned red.” We can see Golding expressing the death of civilization and rationality nonchalantly.
The tone does not express surprise as Golding frequently mentions the sea each time such a gruesome event occurs. This makes us believe that death is inevitable: “Then the sea breathed again in a long, slow sigh, the water boiled white and pink over the rock; and when it went, sucking back again, the body of Piggy was gone.”
Golding expertly distances the audience from emotions in each of these scenes by noting details of the natural world rather than focusing on the boys. Nonetheless, the author's exact details concerning the appearance of Piggy's broken body elicits a sense of disgust and horror.
Why Did They Ban Lord of the Flies?
Don't let the title fool you. William Golding's 1954 novel, a staple in most 10th grade classes, has faced intense criticism over the years. The American Library Association (ALA) ranks it 8th among the top ten most frequently banned or challenged books in the US. Parents and other interested parties such as school administrators have disputed its use of violence and profane language. Bullying is one of the primary plot lines in this book and is rampant on Golding's island.
The Waterloo Iowa schools challenged the novel in 1992 due to its lurid passages riddled with sexual connotations, profanity, and defamatory statements concerning God, minorities, the disabled, and women.
It was also challenged in 2000 but retained on the 9th grade accelerated reading list for English students in Bloomfield, New York.
The Florida Citizens Alliance pushed for legislation in the state to ban close to 90 books, including Lord of the Flies in April, 2019. Their efforts bore no fruits as they were rebuffed by lawmakers that upheld the first amendment.
3 Things About Lord of the Flies You Didn't Learn In High School
William Golding's book has certainly made its mark in literature. But how much do you know about the author and the book's relation to society? We'll show you three things about the famous book that are not taught in high school.
- William Golding admitted to attempting to rape a teenage girl as young man
- Lord of the Flies is a satire of The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne
- There was a real-life Lord of the Flies situation. It played out differently
1. William Golding Admitted to Attempting To Rape a Teenage Girl As Young Man
Golding would often refer to himself as a monster to his family. He oscillated between bouts of incessant drinking and completely avoiding alcohol. In a memoir that was never published titled, Men and Women Now, he detailed some of his inner demons. The document was addressed to his wife. Golding mentions that he attempted to rape a 15-year old girl while on holiday during his first year at Oxford. The girl had been taking piano lessons from him. Golding disturbingly referred to her as "sexy as an ape" and "depraved."
2. Lord of the Flies is a Satire of The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne
Epitomized by R.M. Ballantyne's "The Coral Island," the genre of stranded boys having fun on an island, was once a popular feature in literature. Golding read this novel and other similar tales as a child and to his children.
An looming nuclear war in the wake of a world war saw these narratives change drastically. They now possessed imperialist overtones and featured white, upper class boys that would frequently encounter native inhabitants. They would "civilize" them by showing them their superior ways, demonstrating how much the narrative had changed.
Golding doubted that British boys would act in this way if they were separated from society and the power dynamics back home. This is partly due to his time as a teacher and as the war was proving barbaric, leading to the question of how a civilized nation behaves. His book satirizes The Coral Island, deeming its ideologies as "rotted to compost."
3. There Was a Real-Life Lord of the Flies Situation. It Played Out Differently
Six boys from Tonga got shipwrecked for more than a year after running away from boarding school in 1965. By the time they were found, they had created a commune with tree-trunks to capture rainwater, a food garden, a gymnasium with interesting weights, chicken pens, badminton court, and had a permanent fire going. All they had to achieve this was an old knife blade and a lot of determination.
In contrast to the young boys from Lord of the Flies, the boys from Tonga thrived on an uninhabited island by conforming to established rules they formed once they reached the isolated patch of land. They worked in teams and solved conflict by imposing a time-out.
This tells us that Golding's ideas about society are based on the systems of power in his time and do not reflect innate human nature.