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Read the complete Lord of the Flies study guide for a summary, analysis, and more.
William Golding’s 1954 classic Lord of the Flies was like the original Hunger Games, and that makes for some seriously good reading. The novel centers around a group of pre-adolescent boys who get stranded on a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean and are left to govern themselves. Things go exactly as you imagine: Rules are set and promptly broken. Naturally, all-out savagery ensues.
"We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?"
The cast of characters includes our protagonist, an irritating high-achiever named Ralph, who is quickly elected as chief and gains followers, like the memorable outcast Piggy. Jack, one of the older boys, serves as the story’s antagonist and the leader of the hunters. He is backed by Roger and Maurice. Jack spends his time manipulating a pair of twins, Sam and Eric (also known as Samneric), who are loyal to Ralph.
The shy and good-hearted Simon serves as Golding’s “neutral good” while crybaby Percival represents weakness among this wild pack of British boys. Want more in-depth information? You can read more about this rowdy cast of Lord of The Flies characters here.
Throughout the book, alliances quickly form and divisions are made. With no grown-ups to maintain order, a rift between the little boys (the “littluns”) and the older boys (the “bigguns”) leads to challenges. Paranoia among the cast worsens as they try to protect themselves and one another against the “beast,” a monster they all believe is lurking on the island.
"This head is for the beast. It's a gift."
Although entertaining, Golding weaves plenty of important themes throughout the narrative, touching on friendship, human nature, rules and order, power, fear, identity, self-consciousness, youth, and the end of innocence.
Below, we’ve selected some of the most important quotes from Lord of the Flies to help you get a better understanding of how the story plays out. Be sure to click through quotes by theme for more.
“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.”
“The ground beneath them was a bank covered with sparse grass, torn everywhere by the upheavals of fallen trees, scattered with decaying coconuts and palm saplings. Behind this was the darkness of the forest proper and the open space of the scar.”
“He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling.”
“His mind was crowded with memories; memories of the knowledge that had come to them when they closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink.”
“Tell us about the snake-thing."
"Now he says it was a beastie."
"A snake-thing. Ever so big. He saw it."
"In the woods."
"He says the beastie came in the dark."
“Who wants the conch shell next?”
"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."
"He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling."
For more quotes by theme, check out these important quote subcategories: