Study Guide

Lord of the Flies: Fear Quotes

By William Golding

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Chapter 1

“We may stay here till we die.”

With that word the heat began to increase till it became a threatening weight and the lagoon attacked them with a blinding effulgence. (1.125)

When Piggy says the word "die," he seems to bring fear into the island. He and Ralph don't even know that anyone else is on the island yet—but it probably would have been better for them if they'd been alone.

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. (1.52)

The boys may not be afraid yet, but we're getting a bad feeling. This passage, with its "decaying coconuts" and forest "darkness" hints that nasty things are on the way. No wonder the littluns start freaking out.

Within the diamond haze of the beach something dark was fumbling along. Ralph saw it first, and watched until the intentness of his gaze drew all eyes that way. Then the creature stepped from mirage onto clear sand, and they saw that the darkness was not all shadow but mostly clothing. The creature was a party of boys […]. (1.184)

Ralph doesn't exactly seem afraid here, but maybe he should be: the boys choir appears out of the "mirage" as a man-beast. (Don't worry; he'll be afraid later.)

Chapter 2

Ralph laughed, and the other boys laughed with him. The small boy twisted further into himself.

"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." (2.73-80)

The biguns are laughing at the littluns' fear, but they won't be laughing for long. Pretty soon, they'll be just as afraid—and they can do ugly things out of fear.

Chapter 3

"You've noticed, haven't you?"

Jack put down his spear and squatted.

"Noticed what?"

"Well. They're frightened."

He rolled over and peered into Jack's fierce, dirty face.

"I mean the way things are. They dream. You can hear 'em. Have you been awake at night?" Jack shook his head.

"They talk and scream. The littluns. Even some of the others. As if—"

"As if it wasn't a good island."

Astonished at the interruption, they looked up at Simon's serious face.

"As if," said Simon, "the beastie, the beastie or the snake-thing, was real. Remember?" (3.58-67)

Ralph wants to build shelters, because he knows that the kids are afraid—but all Jack wants to do is hunt. Would that have helped? We know that the boys themselves are the beast, but the boys don't. Maybe building huts would have helped them feel safe enough to keep Simon alive.

Chapter 5

“Maybe […] there is a beast


What I mean is… maybe it's only us.” (5.183-195)

Simon and Piggy come to equal-but-opposite conclusions. Piggy has a kind of rational, external, empirical attitude—we're afraid of each other. Simon has a more spiritual insight: it's not each other we need to be afraid of, but ourselves. Subtle? Sure. But it's an important difference.


"Life […] is scientific, that's what it is. In a year or two when the war is over they'll be traveling to Mars and back. I know there isn't no beast—not with claws and all that I mean—but I know there isn't no fear either."


"Unless we get frightened of people." (5.99, 104)

There's nothing to be afraid of, says Piggy—unless we start to fear other people. Trust rational, scientific Piggy to understand.


"…fear can't hurt you any more than a dream. There aren't any beasts to be afraid of on this island . . . Serve you right if something did get you, you useless lot of cry-babies!" (5.79)

Jack isn't winning any Mr. Sensitive awards here. He's also wrong: fear can hurt you; and there are beasts on the island.

Chapter 6

Simon, walking in front of Ralph, felt a flicker of incredulity—a beast with claws that scratched, that sat on a mountain-top, that left no tracks and yet was not fast enough to catch Samneric. However Simon thought of the beast, there rose before his inward sight the picture of a human, at once heroic and sick. (6.140)

Simon may not be a brain like Piggy, but he's a smart guy; he knows that the beast is unbelievable. But that doesn't mean he's not afraid. Like we said, he's a smart guy; he knows that this whole situation is heading downhill fast.

"It was furry. There was something moving behind its head—wings. The beast moved too—"

"That was awful. It kind of sat up—"


"There were eyes—"



"We ran as fast as we could—" (6.67-75)

Samneric do see something; they see the dead parachuter. But their fear makes them see something totally different from what actually exists—like turning a pile of clothes in your closet into a monster.

Chapter 7

In front of them, only three or four yards away, was a rock-like hump where no rock should be. Ralph could hear a tiny chattering noise coming from somewhere—perhaps his own mouth. He bound himself together with his will, fused his fear and loathing into a hatred, and stood up. He took two leaden steps forward. (7.246)

On the one hand, this is real courage: when you're afraid of something but do it anyway. On the other hand, notice how Ralph changing his "fear and loathing" into "hatred." Talk about dangerous emotions—hatred makes people do horrible things.


"Someone's got to go across the island and tell Piggy we'll be back after dark."

Bill spoke, unbelieving.

"Through the forest by himself? Now?"

"We can't spare more than one."

Simon pushed his way to Ralph's elbow."

"I'll go if you like. I don't mind, honestly." (7.124-129)

Simon is the only boy who doesn't seem to be afraid of the forest—probably because he knows he's safer alone than with the other boys. Smart choice.

Chapter 8

"This head is for the beast. It's a gift." (8.224)

The head is meant to be a gift for the beast, but later it becomes a manifestation of the beast itself—which means that violence and savagery end up making the beast real. (Hey, no one ever said Lord of the Flies was subtle.)

Chapter 10

"I expect the beast disguised himself."

"Perhaps […]. We'd better keep on the right side of him, anyhow. You can't tell what he might do."

The tribe considered this; and then were shaken, as if by a flow of wind. The chief saw the effect of his words and stood abruptly. (10.142-143)

Fear, says Golding, is one of a leader's most powerful tools for controlling a society. (And this is before anyone had to stand barefoot in an airport security line.)

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