© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
Ralph Timeline and Summary
As the novel opens, "the fair boy," makes his way out of the jungle, toward the lagoon. Ralph and Piggy discuss their situation—that their plane has gone down and that there are no adults to take care of them and then find a big, white conch shell. Ralph uses it to summon all the boys to a meeting and is— surprise!—elected chief. Ralph makes several efforts before an amazing sound comes out of the shell, "a deep, harsh boom." He insists on making and manning a signal fire. Ralph and Jack argue about building shelters, keeping fires going, and, of course, killing pigs. When the fire goes out and a ship passes by them, Ralph tries to lay down the law, but his meeting disintegrates pretty quickly. In fact, he says he wants to give up. But he doesn't. Instead, he uses his chief-dom to nerve himself up to look for the imaginary beast. Everyone heads up the mountain to restart the fire, which has gone out again, with Ralph feeling bummed and homesick. Right about then the bushes crash ahead of them and a large boar (a male pig with tusks) comes rushing out. Ralph hits it with his spear and decides that hunting isn't so bad after all. But he's pretty uneasy with how the boys are blood-thirstily re-enacting the hunt. Ralph, Jack, and Roger find "the beast," i.e. parachuter, which means that everyone's too afraid to go up the mountain to start a signal fire. They build a new one on the beach, but almost all the biguns desert for Jack's new tribe. It's all fun and games and delicious pig belly until Simon stumbles in and the boys beat him to death. Later, Ralph and Piggy convince themselves that it never happened. When Jack's team steals Piggy's glasses, he and Ralph clean up and head over to get them back. Ralph announces that he's calling an assembly, but it doesn't happen. Instead, Piggy falls off a cliff and dies. Ralph is totally alone and super depressed. He's even more depressed when Samneric sneak off to tell him that Jack's planning to kill him. There's a big, trans-island fight involving sharpened sticks and fire. Ralph is pretty convinced he's going to die, when suddenly a naval officer shows up to ask who's in charge. When the officer asks who's boss, Ralph answers loudly that he is. He stares at the officer dumbly, hardly able to comprehend that the rescuers have finally arrived. Ralph begins to cry, sobbing for the first time about Simon, about Piggy, about "the end of innocence, [and about] the darkness of man's heart.