Study Guide

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies Summary

Lord of the Flies was written by William Golding in 1954. When Lord of the Flies opens, a plane carrying a group of British boys ages 6 to 12 has crashed on a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean. Oops. (Also, apparently the world is at war. This matters.) With no adults around, the boys are left to fend for and govern themselves. Things start out okay. The boys use a conch shell as a talking stick, and Ralph, one of the older boys, becomes "chief."

And then trouble begins. They're afraid of a "beast" somewhere on the island, and then they decide to build a signal fire using the glasses of a boy named Piggy (who is a portly fellow, and also the most loyal friend to Ralph). But Jack, jealous of Ralph's power, decides the boys should devote their energies to hunting food (namely pigs) instead of maintaining the fire. The longer they're on the island, the more savage he becomes. Meanwhile, our other key player, a wise and philosophical boy named Simon, works with Ralph to build shelters.

Eventually, these latent conflicts become not so latent, and the boys who are supposed to be tending the fire skip out on their duties to kill a pig. The blood and gore of the hunt is all very exciting until they realize that, while they were out being bloodthirsty boys, the fire went out and a ship passed by without noticing them. Jack has also managed to punch Piggy in the face and break one lens of his glasses. Not good.

Right about this time a dead man attached to a parachute blows in Mary-Poppins-style to the island. The mysterious parachuting creature is mistaken for the beast, and the boys begin a massive hunt to kill it. Only Simon (and, let's face it, the audience) is skeptical, believing instead they're really just afraid of themselves. He goes off into the woods to contemplate the situation while Jack and Ralph ascend the mountain and find the beast—but don't stick around long enough to see that it is in fact only a dead man.

Back in the group, Jack decides Ralph shouldn't be chief anymore. He secedes and invites whoever wants to come with him and kill things (like more pigs, and maybe some people if they feel like it). Most of the older kids go with him, and Simon, hiding, watches Jack and Co. hunt a pig. This time, they slaughter a fat mother pig (in a scene described somewhat as a rape), cut off her head, and jam it onto a stick in the ground. Nice.

Simon stares at the head, which he calls "the Lord of the Flies" as it tells him (he's hallucinating, by the way) that it is the beast and that it is part of him (Simon). Simon passes out, gets a bloody nose, and wakes up covered in sweat, blood, and other generally disgusting things. Despite all this, he decides to continue up the mountain to face the beast, i.e. dead guy. Then he vomits and staggers down the mountain.

By now, Ralph and Piggy (both rather ravenous) are attending (with all the other boys) a big feast/party that Jack (decorated like an idol) is throwing. It's all a frenzied reenactment of the pig hunt until Simon, still bloody, sweaty, and covered in puke, stumbles down into the center of the crazed boys. He tries to tell them about the beast, but he is unrecognizable and the boys jab at him with their spears until he's dead. Oops. Simon's body is washed out to sea that night, and the wind carries off the body of the dead parachuting man, while Ralph and Piggy convince themselves they didn't take part in murdering Simon.

It's all downhill from here. Jack's crew attacks Ralph and Piggy and steals Piggy's eyeglasses to make fire on their own. When Ralph and Piggy decide to calmly talk it out with the "savages," Roger pushes a huge boulder off a cliff, killing Piggy. Ralph ends up running for his life, finds out that there's a head-on-stick future planned for him, and at last makes it to the shore of the island where he runs into… an officer of the British Navy. The boys are rescued from their mock war, but we're left with the image of the Navy's "trim cruiser" from the real war of the adults.

  • Chapter 1

    The Sound of the Shell

    • When our story begins, "the fair boy" makes his way out of a jungle and toward a lagoon.
    • A red and yellow bird flashes upward with a witch-like cry (eerie, isn't it?) just as another youngster, "the fat boy" who is wearing "thick spectacles" follows behind.
    • The two boys meet and discuss the fact that, holy smokes, their plane has crashed.
    • The fat boy wonders where the man with the megaphone is, which we should all keep in mind for the next few paragraphs.
    • Also, there are no grown-ups.
    • Also, they can't find the plane or the pilot. The fair boy concludes that both must have been dragged out to sea by a storm. He makes the dire statement that "There must have been some kids still in it," "it" being the plane that went out to sea.
    • The fat boy (seriously, that's what he's called) asks the fair boy (again, that's what he's called) what his name is.
    • It's Ralph. Ralph has no interest in learning the fat boy's name.
    • But, the pair assumes others have survived and are around here somewhere, maybe hiding in the copious foliage or something.


    • The fat boy lags behind Ralph because of his "ass-mar," which is probably "asthma." Also, the fat boy has to poo. (English major-y people called this kind of thing "realism.")
    • Ralph races ahead to the water, and we get a detailed description of the shore, the palm trees, the coarse grass, and the decaying coconuts. This is all in contrast to "the darkness of the forest."
    • Ralph decides the thing to do is have a swim. So he gets naked. Many more naked boys to come, by the way, so be prepared.
    • While we're busy getting a description of Ralph, the fat boy shows up and joins in the nude swimming fun. The water is "warmer than [their] blood [. . .] like swimming in a huge bath." (So, a delightful hot tub, if you ignore the blood imagery.)
    • We get a nice description of Ralph; he is twelve and has the build of maybe being a boxer someday when he's older, but you can also plainly see that there is "no devil" in him. Lastly, he has "bright, excited eyes."
    • The fat boy admits to Ralph that most people call him "Piggy," and asks Ralph not to tell anyone.
    • Ralph is not the nicest guy to Piggy ("They call you PIGGY!?" sort of thing), but we're holding out judgment on him since he is, after all, a twelve-year-old boy.
    • Ralph claims that his father, who is in the Navy, is going to come rescue them.
    • Piggy, however, says the pilot told them (before the crash) that an atomic bomb had gone off and everyone was dead.
    • This, combined with the earlier megaphone comment, suggests that perhaps the boys were being evacuated, maybe even from some kind of war zone, when the plane crashed.
    • Anyway, Piggy asserts that they're probably going to have to "stay here till [they] die."
    • On this cheerful note, they decide to put their clothes back on. In doing so, they find a large white conch shell, which Piggy remembers is a faux, MacGyver-style megaphone.
    • Ralph makes several efforts before an amazing sound comes out of the shell, "a deep, harsh boom."
    • As you might expect, man has ruined the peaceful stillness of the virgin island.
    • Amidst the squawking birds and scurrying furry things, the other boys come out of the woodwork. Some are small. Many are naked.
    • While Ralph continues to revel in the "violent pleasure" of blowing the conch, Piggy goes to great lengths to ask and learn everyone's name, among them a young child named Johnny and a pair of twins named Sam and Eric.
    • Ralph sees a dark, fumbling creature, but concludes that it is only a group of boys wearing black choir robes. There is a redheaded boy at the head of the pack "controlling them."
    • The boy commands them all to stand in a line. We're thinking it must be rather uncomfortable in the sun to be wearing heavy, black cloaks, and our suspicions are confirmed when one of the boys faints, face-first, in the sand.
    • The boys ask the redheaded leader (Merridew) "But can't we, Merridew…" which we think means "Please let us take off these absurd cloaks."
    • Merridew ignores the boy who's fainted.
    • Piggy doesn't ask names of this group, since they're kind of scary. But he does remind everyone that names are oh-so-important.
    • About this time, Ralph tells everyone that Piggy's name is Piggy. Nice.
    • And now we meet the rest of the cast. We've got Maurice, who smiles a lot; Jack Merridew, the tyrant you already met and the largest of the choir boys; Roger, who is "slight" and "furtive" and has an "inner intensity of avoidance and secrecy"; Simon, who has recovered from his fainting spell; and then Bill, Robert, Harold, and Henry.
    • Guess which one is evil incarnate.
    • Jack says they should work out the getting rescued part.
    • Ralph's response is "Shut up." He decides they need a chief.
    • Jack declares that, most sensibly, he should be chief because he's the head boy of the choir and can sing a C sharp, which everyone knows will come in handy later when negotiating with foreign peoples.
    • Because they are good British boys who know how to follow parliamentary procedure, they decide to vote. Amazingly, they pull this off without the aid of an electoral college, and Ralph becomes chief (although the choir boys did vote for Jack out of obligation).
    • Interestingly, Piggy hesitated to vote for Ralph, probably because Ralph screwed him over with the whole name thing.
    • "But why was Ralph elected?" you ask. Actually, Golding tells us. He says Ralph has a stillness, is attractive, and most importantly has the conch.
    • Ralph feels bad and gives Jack a consolation prize. No, not a useless vice presidency, but rather control over the choirboys.
    • Jack decides his group (the choir-boys) will act as the hunters. Apparently, he's power-hungry AND bloodthirsty.
    • Ralph, Jack and Simon go off to explore the uninhabited island for the  purpose of discovering if it is, in fact, uninhabited.
    • Piggy offers to go, but Jack tells him he's not suited for a job like this (with all the walking and such). Piggy protests, but Ralph sends him back to take names.
    • They do find tracks and wonder aloud what made them. Ralph asks "Men?" and Jack answers "Animals." Hmm!
    • Like all good exploring banter, their dialogue is filled with such British wonders as "wacco," "wizard" and "sucks to you!"
    • The boys find a large rock poised near the edge of the cliff and do the only thing that pre-teen boys could be expected to do in such a circumstance: push it over the edge. It falls "like a bomb."
    • They finally climb to the top of this big mountain they've found and look all around at the island. Ralph says "This belongs to us."
    • They make some cartographic observations of the land, noting the large coral reef and the gash in the trees where their plane hit.
    • On their way back to the lagoon, they find a small pig, tangled in the creepers. Jack raises his knife to kill it, but can't quite bring himself to, and the pig escapes.
    • Jack makes lots of excuses, but he thinks, "Next time there [will] be no mercy."
  • Chapter 2

    Fire on the Mountain

    • Ralph blows the conch and calls another meeting. By now, thank goodness, the choir boys have removed their cloaks.
    • Using his authority as the newly elected chief, Ralph tells the boys that they need to get organized.
    • Apparently that means rules. Now all boys have to raise their hand to talk. Oh, and no one can speak unless they're holding the conch shell.
    • The boys are excited about having rules, but mostly so that they can punish those who break them. This notion elicits cries of "Whee-oh!" "Wacco!" "Bong!" and "Doink!"
    • Piggy takes the conch to raise a few points: (1) they might never get off this island and (2) assuming they don't, they should figure out how to go about the process of not dying.
    • Ralph agrees with the whole "we might be here until eternity" thing, but he declares quite clearly that "this is a good island." Go ahead and sticky-note this page.
    • (But in case you forget to sticky-note it, you have another chance several paragraphs later when he again says "It's a good island.")
    • One small boy with a mulberry-colored birthmark, the reason for which will be shortly explained, requests the conch and everyone laughs until Piggy demands he be allowed to speak.
    • The kid is too scared to talk in front of everyone, so Piggy acts as translator:
    • He's afraid of a mysterious snake-thing in the jungle.
    • He describes it as a "beastie" and says it comes only in the dark. (So apparently the boys must have been on the island for at least one night before they found each other and began to organize.)
    • The other boys snicker and decide that the beastie is just the ropey-looking creepers that hang in the trees.
    • Jack says of course there isn't a beast, but just in case they're all going to go hunt for it anyway.
    • Ralph is forced to concede, but he insists on making a signal fire so when his father comes to rescue them on a ship, the men on board will see the smoke and know where to find them.
    • Also, burning things is fun.
    • Everyone tears off, and Piggy remarks that they're all acting "like a bunch of kids." Because they are a bunch of kids.
    • Everyone excitedly piles up the wood before realizing they have no way of starting the fire. Jack very helpfully mumbles something about rubbing two sticks together (Eagle Scout Lesson #2, if you've been counting.)
    • They use Piggy's glasses to start the fire after many hurrahs and much gathering of wood.
    • Piggy is not happy about the use of his glasses for this purpose. What we mean is: "[Piggy's] voice rose to a shriek of terror as Jack snatched the glasses off his face."
    • Ralph says that they need to choose certain, responsible people to keep the fire going at all times—in case a ship passes by.
    • Jack declares: "We're English, and the English are best at everything."
    • Piggy, rather blind without his glasses, grabs the conch from Ralph and complains about how no one pays attention to his ideas.
    • While the boys argue, the fire spreads…like wildfire.
    • As the smoke drifts through the air, Piggy rants about all these things they should have done, like build shelters and show him some respect. Then, most likely because of the smoke, his asthma flares up and he can't breathe.
    • Yet, it seems he has enough breath to point out that the small children, a.k.a. "the littluns," seem to be missing, especially that one who complained about "the beastie" and had a mulberry-colored birthmark, the better to distinguish him by when he's gone.
    • He seems to be the most missing of all.
  • Chapter 3

    Huts on the Beach

    • Time passes. When Chapter 3 opens, we see Jack, his bare back a "mass of dark freckles and peeling sunburn." He's naked (what do you know) except for a pair of tattered shorts.
    • Slang alert: in British English, "shorts" means "underwear." So, he's wandering around in his boxer briefs.
    • Jack has become obsessed with killing a pig. Obsessed to the point of tracking down pig droppings.
    • Based on his sniffing the air all the time, it seems that Jack is now a lot like an animal himself, or at the least a primitive ("primitive") kind of man.
    • Jack fails to catch a pig, yet again.
    • He tries to take it out on someone else, meaning Ralph and Simon, who are trying to build shelters out of leaves.
    • It's not going so well, as you might have expected.
    • So Ralph and Jack do what they always do together: argue. Jack thinks it's more important to kill things, while Ralph thinks it's more important to not die of exposure.
    • (This is kind of like playing Civilization, where you can win either by killing everyone else, or by being the first civilization to become so scientifically advanced that you make it to space.)
    • Simon points out that everyone is still scared of the beastie, "As if it wasn't a good island." (But didn't Ralph say it was a "good island"? Twice?)
    • Jack, too, admits he gets a little scared when he's in the jungle alone.
    • Despite all this, Ralph is still mostly concerned with the fire.
    • Oh hey, says Jack. Maybe they could paint their faces!
    • Wait, what?
    • See, if they had painted faces, they could sneak up on the pigs while they're sleeping.
    • Oookay.
    • Piggy lies on his stomach and stares at the water. But he does point out that Simon is the one helpful guy, whenever he's not missing, which he tends to be quite frequently.
    • Camera swivel: now we're looking at Simon as he walks into the forest "with an air of purpose." We're told that his "bright eyes" made Ralph think he was "delightfully gay and wicked," when he's not at all. He is also tan, barefoot, and has "a coarse mop of black hair."
    • The littluns follow after him, and he helps them pick fruit too tall for them to reach before heading deeper into the jungle by himself.
    • Simon comes to a place where "the creepers had woven a great mat that hung at the side of an open space in the jungle."
    • He crawls inside this space (we cannot imagine why) and chills out there while evening approaches, musing non-specifically.
  • Chapter 4

    Painted Faces and Long Hair

    • More unspecified time has passed. The boys have developed a sort of rhythm in their lives that involves the littluns playing together, the biguns (Jack and the choir boys) still hunting pigs, and the other boys (Ralph, Simon, and Piggy) trying to build shelters and keep the signal fire going.
    • BTW, there are sharks in the water beyond the reef.
    • One littlun named Percival cries all the time and everyone thinks he's a little crazy.
    • The biguns and littluns have become rather separate groups, although Simon, Maurice, and Roger are walking a fine line because of their size (in general, though, it seems they are considered biguns).
    • Being a littlun is terrible, since no one really takes care of them. They've built and decorated sandcastles near the little river, which has become their play and general dwelling area.
    • We see Henry, the biggest of the littluns, hanging out with the smallest (Percival and Johnny). The children are "at peace" until Roger and Maurice come along and step on their sandcastles, with Roger in the lead and Maurice feeling a little guilty.
    • Once again, can you guess which one will end up being evil incarnate?
    • Roger follows Henry as he wanders off to an overlook; below, Ralph, Simon, Piggy, and Maurice are splashing in the pool (the small and naturally-occurring kind, not the cabana kind).
    • Roger throws stones at Henry. Well, kind of. He misses on purpose because he still has some semblance of decency left, at least for the time being.
    • Jack calls to Roger; he's with Sam, Eric, and Bill and still on this pig-hunting kick.
    • Jack refers to the twins as "Samneric."
    • After going through with the face painting plan, using white and red clay and a stick of charcoal, Jack looks at his reflection in a coconut shell full of water and is stoked to see an "awesome stranger" looking back at him. He begins to dance, and it seems that the mask is a "thing on its own, behind which Jack hid."
    • When he orders the boys to come with him, they obey "the mask," not Jack. Creepy stuff.
    • Meanwhile, back at the lagoon, Ralph, Simon and Piggy are still swimming with Maurice.
    • Piggy suggests that they should make a sundial, but, as has become general habit, no one takes his suggestions seriously.
    • Suddenly, Ralph spots a ship.
    • Much excitement follows.
    • Is the signal fire still lit? Ralph dashes up the mountain to see, "doing desperate violence to his naked body among the rasping creepers so that blood was sliding over him." (Yes—still naked.)
    • But before he goes, Simon seems to know what's up. He "crie[s] out as though he [has] hurt himself" and tries to touch Ralph's face. Interesting!
    • As you might have guessed, the signal fire has gone out.
    • By the time they stop panicking, the ship has disappeared.
    • So, where are the (former) choir boys who were supposed to be tending the fire?
    • Everyone looks down from the mountain and sees a procession of choir boys who have finally ditched the black robes and joined in the public nudity. But, they're still ominously wearing their black caps.
    • They are also, equally ominously, led by Jack, carrying a dead pig on a stake, and chanting: "Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood."
    • Jack and his posse tell the tale of how they killed the pig.
    • Ralph stares at them, expressionless, and finally says, "You let the fire go out."
    • Jack and Co. experience that "oops" feeling, accompanied by a side of intense guilt.
    • Piggy rails on them for being irresponsible, so naturally Jack punches Piggy in the face.
    • Simon finds the glasses and reveals that a lens is broken, which leaves Piggy with vision in just one eye. Oops.
    • Finally, Jack breaks down and apologizes.
    • Standing still and stoic, Ralph simply commands them to rebuild the fire. Huzzah: he reasserts his chieftainship, the choir boys rebuild the fire away while Ralph just stands there and glares at them until he finally comes with what's left of Piggy's glasses to light the fire.
    • Piggy is obviously not comfortable with his only means to sight being used this way; he snatches the "specs" back immediately, as the boys begin to roast the pig they killed, ripping off hunks of meat and devouring it like wolves.
    • In his attempt to be indignant and above everyone, Ralph tries to not eat any of the meat Jack is roasting.
    • That lasts about two seconds once the smell reaches his nose; remember, they've been eating nothing but fruit and plants since they got to the island.
    • No one hands Piggy any meat, and when Jack gives him a hard time about his not helping with the hunt, Simon gives his own food to Piggy.
    • Jack is furious, and yells at Simon to "Eat! Damn you!" He basically realizes he has no power over the boys unless they eat the meat he got for them all.
    • The hunters describe their kill again in gory detail, and continue their chant of "Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in."
    • Awesome. The boys are becoming violent barbarians and fast.
    • Ralph decides to call another meeting—because that seems like it's going to work—and walks down the mountain.
  • Chapter 5

    • Ralph sounds the conch shell and the boys gather for a meeting. A serious meeting.
    • We get a description of the meeting place: we know it's on a sort of platform, and now we're told it's shaped like a triangle. Ralph, as the chief, sits on a huge log, which lies parallel to the beach below. To his right is another not-so-chiefly log, and on the left four smaller logs, all of which make for seats for the boys.
    • Ralph gets rather philosophical here before the big meeting, pondering such relevant matters as, "If faces [are] different when lit from above or below—what [is] a face? What [is] anything?" It seems the wilderness has made Ralph question the very foundations of his knowledge.


    • If this seems weird to you, we suggest you live on an uninhabited island for a month or two.
    • After all this pondering, Ralph gets around to blowing the conch.
    • He reminds the boys of some rules: (1) (as you might have guessed) KEEP THE SIGNAL FIRE GOING, (2) don't build any other fires, and (3) do their toilet business by the rocks near the bathing pool instead of all over the island, as they have been doing (the boys snigger and laugh at this last item).
    • When he sets down the conch, Jack grabs it up and tells all the little children to stop acting like children. He says there is no beast (he's been all over the island), and if they're afraid they should suck it up.
    • There's this great moment where someone asks what a beast would eat, someone else says "pig," and yet another someone said "We eat pig."
    • Piggy, in a moment of astounding and unprecedented perception, states that there is no beast, and no fear, either—unless they get frightened of people. So there's nothing to fear but … themselves.
    • We're thinking particularly Jack.
    • One of the littluns (Phil) tries to declare that the beast comes out at night.
    • When they tell him it was a dream, he says quite adamantly no, he was dreaming that the creepers were snakes, and then after he woke up he saw something big moving in the dark.
    • Ralph insists it was a dream, until Simon admits he was the one mucking about in the dark.
    • Simon grabs the conch and explains that sometimes he likes to go hang out in this "place" in the jungle.
    • They keep talking about "getting taken short," which is refined British for "needing to poo." Supposedly, this is why Simon was out, but we all know that's not true.
    • Another littlun comes forward, and again Piggy has to hold the conch for him and coax some words out of him. This little guy is none other than Percival.
    • Percival gets a little nutty; he yammers off his street address, he cries, then he yawns, then he staggers, and finally he just lies down in the grass and goes to sleep, but not before telling Jack that the beast "comes out of the sea."
    • Simon makes a comment on "mankind's essential illness" and states that the beast is "only us."
    • Is it just us, or is Simon basically the smartest 12-year-old ever?
    • Simon tries to further his point by asking, "what's the dirtiest thing there is?"
    • Jack's answer, "one crude expressive syllable" (yes, you know what it is) causes the other boys to scream with delight (remember, essentially, these are proper, well-educated British boys—swearing was a big thrill for them).
    • As the boys laugh, Simon gives up on his effort to make them think about themselves and sits down in defeat.
    • Maybe the beast is a ghost?
    • Someone yells at Piggy to "shut up, you fat slug!" and the whole meeting begins to disintegrate.
    • Ralph shouts that the rules are the only thing they've got holding them together, but Jack is louder and leads a pack of boys off to search for the beast and hunt him down.
    • Piggy, Ralph and Simon are left in despair. Piggy wants to blow the conch, but Ralph makes the third amazing comment of the chapter, stating that, if he blows it now and no one comes back, the conch will have lost its power completely.
    • And then, they will all "be like animals."
    • He wants to give up being chief, but Piggy asks desperately what would happen then.
    • Simon tries to convince Ralph to go on with his duties.
    • There's some talk of how, if only the grown-ups were there, they'd know what to do. They would have rules and they would meet and discuss.
    • Apparently, the boys have never seen the British parliament in action.
    • Anyway, they really wish they had a "sign" from the adults.
    • As the boys stand there in the darkness, a thin wail arises. It's one of the littluns, Percival, crying out from his spot on the grass.
  • Chapter 6

    Beast from Air

    • As if that weren't scary enough, Chapter 6 opens with a "sign" from the adults: it's a parachuting dead body drifting down to the ground from a battle being fought by airplanes above the island.
    • Sam and Eric are tending the signal fire when they see the freaky-looking body.
    • Screaming and running away follows.
    • Ralph is dreaming of home when the twins wake him up screaming that they saw the beast and that it was furry, had wings, teeth, and claws, there was something moving behind its head, and it followed them by "slinking behind the trees."
    • By now, other boys have gathered around to listen, including our favorite troublemaker, Jack.
    • Naturally Jack wants to hunt the thing down.
    • Jack, Ralph, and an assortment of biguns head off to do so.
    • When Piggy asks who's going to look after the littluns while everyone else is off hunting for the beast, Jack says, "Sucks to the littluns."
    • On that charming note, they let the hunt begin.
    • They decide to head for the tail end of the island, where the rocks make a sort of bridge that they call "the castle."
    • Simon is doubtful that there's really a beast. He imagines "a picture of a human, at once heroic and sick."
    • When they get to the rocks, Ralph declares that, since he's the chief, he'll look for the beast.
    • Several heart-pounding moments later, he sees that Jack has followed him.
    • Not surprisingly, there is no beast inside. They have some fun exploring. And then they decide to climb to the top of the mountain to look for this beast thing.
    • The other boys start swarming into the rocks, having a grand old time, until Ralph realizes the signal fire has gone out again.
    • With much grumbling and muttering, the boys follow Jack and Ralph to the top of the mountain.
  • Chapter 7

    Shadows and Tall Trees

    • The boys stop to rest and eat some fruit they’ve found.
    • Almost immediately, some of the boys steal off to “do their business.”
    • Ralph, by now quite dirty, wishes that he could take a bath. Oh, and cut his hair (still).
    • But then he looks around at the other boys and realizes that he’s become used to the conditions of filthiness – it has become normal. He sighs, knowing that this isn’t really a good thing.
    • Ralph stares out at the ocean – he’s now on the other side of the island, no longer shielded by the lagoon. This, of course, is hugely meaningful to him.
    • Right about this time, Ralph realizes Simon is speaking right into his ear.
    • Simon actually does say, “You’ll get back all right.”
    • Ralph thinks Simon is batty and says so – yet he is still somehow comforted. Simon seems to have some knowledge of things that the other boys don’t. For a moment, they even smile at each other.
    • But before you start feeling all comforted, notice that Simon says “you’ll get back all right.”
    • Roger calls out that he’s found some fresh (steaming) pig poo.
    • The boys start on up the mountain again as Ralph thinks fondly of home: his bedroom, books, his mother and father and “good-humored and friendly” feelings.
    • Right about now, a huge boar (that’s a male pig with tusks) comes crashing out of the bushes.
    • Ralph flings his spear, which sticks in the boar’s snout for about a second before falling out.
    • Ralph proudly shouts that he hit the boar, and then decides that maybe hunting is a good thing after all.
    • Jack takes off after the boar, which eventually gets away, but not before wounding Jack’s arm.
    • And yet – the excitement doesn’t end there; the boys reenact the scene with some poor boy (Robert) voluntarily playing the boar.
    • Things get a little out of hand as the boys “play” at jabbing Robert with their spears.
    • They start the chant again: “Kill the pig! Cut his throat,” etc., etc.
    • Ralph can’t help joining in (!) as they finish the game with Robert screaming in true terror as they pin him down.
    • When it’s all over, Robert isn’t really hurt and Ralph says it was “just a game,” but even he knows that he is shamelessly lying to himself.
    • Everyone (except Robert, we assume) wishes they could do it again.
    • Jack playfully suggests they could use a littlun.
    • By this time, the sun is starting to go down; the boys discuss whether to go on up on the mountain and risk facing the beast in the dark, or whether to go back to Piggy, who was left behind with the littluns.
    • Finally, Simon goes off through the jungle to tell Piggy that they won’t be back until after dark.
    • The rest of the boys head fearfully up the darkening mountain.
    • As the group chickens out one by one, only Ralph, Jack, and Roger are left.
    • Jack goes ahead and sees the “beast” (the parachute man) bowing and lifting in the wind. He can’t tell what it is and runs back to the other two.
    • Then, bravely, the trio goes together to investigate.
    • Ralph is so afraid he thinks he might pass out.
    • They finally get a look at what they think is a giant ape sitting there, asleep, with his head between his knees.
    • As the wind roars through the trees, the creature lifts his head, “holding toward them the ruin of a face.”
    • For the second time, much running and screaming follows.
  • Chapter 8

    Gift for the Darkness

    • Cut to the next morning. The boys tell Piggy about the beast.
    • Ralph pushes back his mop of hair (Ralph's hair seems to have taken on a life of its own) and says they're beaten; if everyone is too scared to go to the top of the mountain, they can't keep the signal fire going.
    • Jack, trying to take control of the situation, calls an assembly by blowing the conch.
    • He tells the group about the beast and then argues that Ralph shouldn't be chief because (1) he likes Piggy, (2) he doesn't hunt, and (3) he was scared on the mountain.
    • When no one is willing to impeach Ralph, Jack storms off. Ralph is just going to have to catch his own pigs from now on.
    • BUT, before his grand exit, Jack invites anyone who wants to come with him.
    • No one knows quite what to do, but Ralph says Jack will come back once it gets dark.
    • Piggy is not happy with this beast situation, since he can no longer convince himself it's all been imagined.
    • Meanwhile, Simon says that they should go up the mountain and face the beast, because it's not like they have anything else to do.
    • No one agrees with Simon.
    • Piggy finally comes up with the brilliant idea to build a new signal fire down by the beach instead of depending on the one up on the mountain.
    • The boys do so. Piggy wants to run experiments to see which of the green leaves make the most smoke when they burn.
    • After they get it going, Piggy and Ralph look around and realize that many of the biguns—Maurice, Bill, and Roger and Robert—have disappeared.
    • The only ones left besides Piggy and Ralph are "Samneric" and Simon.
    • No, wait, Simon seems to be gone, too. They wonder if that crazy loon has climbed up the mountain by himself.
    • Cut to Simon. He's in his little meditation spot in the jungle, to sit behind the great woven mat of creepers.
    • Meanwhile, far off along the beach, Jack and his band of brothers make pig-killing plans.
    • They decide that if they leave part of the pig for the beast, the beast won't bother them—you know, like an offering.
    • Conveniently, they find a bunch of sleeping pigs. They set their sights on the biggest, fattest, mother pig, who is adorably nursing a row of piglets.
    • What follows is a bloody and horrific scene in which the boys drive their knives into this screaming pig.
    • The boys stare at the dead mother pig. What now?
    • They laugh and rub her blood over their faces—obviously.
    • "Right up her ass," says one of the boys (referring to where he put his spear) and they act out the whole thing all over again.
    • Oops. In order to cook the pig, they're going to need fire—which they'll steal from Ralph's group later on.
    • Jack tells Roger to "sharpen a stick at both ends." Then he bends over the pig with his knife and cuts off her head.
    • They ram a pointed stick into the crack of a rock and jam the pig's severed head onto the other end.
    • They leave the head as a gift for the beast and carry off the remains of the pig.
    • Now get ready for some heavy, thought-provoking, killer lines in the next ten pages or so. We suggest you go read those ten pages and then come back here when you're done. (Or get immersed and don't come back until you finish the book.)
    • Simon is hiding behind his mat of creepers, where, unbeknownst to the other boys, he has been watching them slaughter the pig. He now stares at the head's half-closed eyes, which assure him that "everything [is] a bad business."
    • Simon responds—out loud—that he already knows that.
    • We start off the scene with the head "seeming" to say things to Simon.
    • Simon stares at the black blob of bloody guts that the boys have piled on the ground. It's covered with buzzing flies.
    • The flies start gathering on Simon's hot, sweaty face, but he does nothing.
    • As the flies crawl over him, Simon stares at the impaled head, the "Lord of the Flies."
    • He watches it "grinning" back at him, and we're going to go out on a limb and say that he might be hallucinating just a little bit.
    • Okay, we're getting pretty nervous for Simon.
    • But now we return to Piggy and Ralph, who are lying on the sand, gazing at the fire.
    • Samneric have wandered off.
    • Simon is gone. They realize it is going to rain and don't know how to keep a fire going, especially with so few people now.
    • Ralph asks Piggy what makes things "break up as they do."
    • Piggy thinks it's Jack, and he's also honored that Ralph is talking to him like an equal.
    • The two of them lie there contemplating how not to die and hopefully get off the island, too, when "demoniac figures with faces of white and red and green [rush] out howling."
    • Oh, wait, it's only Jack, Maurice, and Robert with painted faces. They run up to the fire and grab some of the burning sticks.
    • It's pig roast time! Jack invites everyone to come eat.
    • Two of the "savages" say, "The chief has spoken" (sounds like Jack is declaring himself the new chief), and then they all run off again.
    • Hm, says Ralph. Looks like they're having fun, and wouldn't it be nice to join them…
    • But then he reminds everyone that they must tend the fire, because…because…
    • Uh, rescue? says Piggy. It seems like Ralph might be starting to lose it here.
    • Samneric and Bill speak up. As much as they like Ralph and all, they would really prefer eating some food to starving to death. They all head off to the feast.
    • Maybe Ralph's gang could hunt their own pig? No one seems interested, and he accepts momentary defeat.
    • We're back to Simon again.
    • The Lord of the Flies now tells Simon, with dialogue quotes and everything, that he's an "ignorant, silly little boy."
    • The Lord of the Flies asks if Simon is afraid of him, and Simon shakes.
    • The poor guy is having a hard time. His tongue is swollen (might have something to do with how thirsty he felt earlier), and he's now clearly hallucinating that he's having a conversation with the impaled pig's head
    • The pig's head says there's no one there to help poor Simon. "Only me," the pig's head says. "And I'm the Beast."
    • The Lord of the Flies rolls his eyes at the notion that the beast was something that you could hunt and kill. He says that he's part of Simon, that he's close, and that he's the reason "why things are what they are" (the answer to Ralph's question of several paragraphs ago).
    • Simon feels that "one of his times is coming on," like maybe he's about to have a seizure.
    • The pig threatens that "we are going to have fun on this island," and that everyone—and here he lists off the names of the boys—are going to "do" Simon.
    • We're getting a really bad feeling about this.
    • As the Lord of the Flies continues to talk, Simon feels that he's falling into a "vast mouth." He faints.
  • Chapter 9

    A View to a Death

    • Now it's evening. The unconscious Simon gets a bloody nose.
    • When he wakes, The Lord of the Flies is still hanging on his stick "like a black ball."
    • Simon wakes and asks (as he did before): "What else is there to do?"
    • We know what that means.
    • Covered in dried blood, Simon staggers out of his hiding place and begins making his way up the mountain, still intending to face the beast like a man. Or, like a young boy who just happens to be very brave and wise.
    • When he gets to the top, he of course sees that the beast is just a dead body on a parachute, all tangled up in the rocks.
    • Simon pukes (the dead body is a rather hideous and smelly sight) and then frees the parachute line from the rocks.
    • He staggers downward to tell everyone that the "beast" is harmless, almost collapsing with each step.
    • Meanwhile, Ralph and Piggy join everyone at Jack's party, "to make sure nothing happens."
    • When they get to the party, they see that everyone is having a grand old time. Jack is sitting on a great log, "painted and garlanded" like an idol.
    • He graciously offers Piggy and Ralph some food, which they take, and then bosses everyone to get him a drink and tell him he's the fairest one of all and so forth.
    • After everyone eats, Jack demands to know who is going to join his tribe. His seriousness and bossiness is a real downer, and the party stops feeling like a party.
    • In response, Ralph says he's the chief, but his voice trembles as he speaks and no one really believes him.
    • There's some rather ominous thunder.
    • Ralph offers to blow the conch and call an assembly, but Jack says no one will hear it.
    • Everyone knows Jack is right about this.
    • Piggy suggests quietly to Ralph that this would probably be a good time for them to get the heck out of there.
    • Lightning flashes and they all decide to (what else) reenact the pig's death scene for the umpteenth time.
    • Only this time, instead of chanting about the pig, they shout: "Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!"
    • As they dance wildly, something crawls toward them from the forest and stumbles into the circle of boys.
    • It is Simon, who cries out something about a "dead man on a hill."
    • The boys, who are in some kind of a fury of wild chanting and blood lust, aren't really in a listening kind of mood. In fact, they decide that Simon is the beast.
    • Pouncing on him, they scream, strike, bite, and tear. "There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws."
    • Rain pours down, suddenly, and the boys straggle away, leaving the pitiful heap that is Simon lying in the dirt, his blood "staining the sand."
    • As the wind blows, it picks up the other "beast" (the dead man in the parachute) and carries him out to sea—the boys "rush screaming into the darkness."
    • In case you can't tell, this is an amazing paragraph—you should take a look at it.
    • Eventually the rain stops, and as the water rises under the moon, "Simon's dead body [moves] out toward the open sea."
    • Yep, they've actually killed him—even Ralph and Piggy helped.
  • Chapter 10

    The Shell and the Glasses

    • Piggy and Ralph try to keep the fire going and talk about what happened.
    • (We're thinking they must have realized it was Simon sometime in between "Kill that thing!" and waking up the next morning.)
    • Ralph shouts that it was murder and Piggy shrieks that it was not, it was just an accident.
    • Samneric show up, and all four of them try to convince each other that they didn't really participate like the others had.
    • The four of them continue to rationalize until they've decided that they never even attended the dance, that they had left early before anything bad happened.
    • Denial: not just a river in Egypt.
    • Now we're with Roger, who is climbing up Castle Rock. Someone calls for him to halt, and Roger isn't surprised as he thinks of people hiding from "the horrors" of the previous night.
    • It's Robert; he and Roger talk about how Jack is a real chief.
    • They look at a log that's been jammed under a huge rock. When Robert leans on the protruding end of the log, the rock groans. Roger thinks this is super-nifty.
    • They then discuss the fact that Jack has tied up Wilfred (a character we haven't seen until now) and is going to beat him up for some reason.
    • When they get back to the cave, Jack is sitting, naked from the waist up with his face painted in white and red. Wilfred, untied but "newly beaten," is crying.
    • Jack—excuse us, "the chief"—announces that they'll hunt again tomorrow.
    • He explains away the whole last-night's-murder thing by saying that the beast came disguised, and may come again.
    • Oh, and they're still going to have to steal fire to roast the meat.
    • Back at the shelter on the beach, Piggy yammers on about building a radio.
    • Sam and Eric wonder if they'll be captured by "The Reds," but think that would be better than you-know-who.
    • Ralph gets a little nutty. He can't remember why he wants to make a fire, he gives up on it for the night, and then he's dancing around as he thinks of a bus station and how wonderful it would be to go home.
    • He is interrupted by shouts as Sam and Eric start fighting with each other.
    • They've never acted like this before, and Piggy whispers desperately to Ralph that they've got to get out of this somehow before they go "barmy," or "bomb happy," as he puts it.
    • Ralph pushes the "damp tendrils of hair out of his eyes" (there's that hair again) and suggests sarcastically to Piggy that he write a letter to his auntie to come rescue them.
    • Well, sure, says Piggy—but he has no envelope and no stamp.
    • Nighttime. There's definitely something moving outside—it must be the beast.
    • (Um, that didn't work out so well last time, guys. Just sayin'.)
    • Ralph and Piggy cling desperately to each other inside the shelter. Ralph, in a not-so-noble moment, prays that the beast will prefer littluns to him.
    • Tension builds until something crashes into their shelter and pounces on them, beating them viciously. The shelter collapses.
    • After the attackers leave, Samneric come in to see if they are all right.
    • They aren't.
  • Chapter 11

    Castle Rock

    • Piggy wants to go to Jack and the others and insist that they give his glasses back, because it's the right and reasonable thing to do.
    • Ralph thinks this is going to work just about as well as we do, but he agrees to try.
    • The pair decides to bring the conch shell with them to give an impression of authority, and maybe clean themselves up a little, too.
    • Ralph and Piggy argue a little about the smoking fire, and then they set off along the beach with Sam and Eric—leading Piggy, who's practically blind now.
    • When they get there, the boys in Jack's group are "painted out of recognition."
    • Ralph announces that he's calling an assembly and wishes he'd had the bright idea to tie his hair back like the "savages."
    • Roger throws a small stone at Sam and Eric, and then Jack and Ralph argue about Piggy's glasses.
    • Piggy screams, afraid to be left by himself when he can't see.
    • This is going well. Not.
    • "'You pinched Piggy's specs,' said Ralph, breathlessly. 'You've got to give them back.'"
    • Jack is not convinced.
    • Once Ralph calls Jack a dirty thief, the boys begin to fight, swinging at each other with their spears.
    • But Golding is careful to tell us that they use their spears "as sabers," not jabbing at each other with the "lethal points," possibly because everyone is still a little bit traumatized over Simon's death.
    • Piggy tries to defuse the sitch by telling Ralph to remember what they came for—the fire, the specs.
    • And then Ralph says something interesting: he tells Jack, "You aren't playing the game—" and then he cuts himself off.
    • He sure isn't. Jack's next move is to tell the savages to tie up Sam and Eric.
    • There is some hesitation as everyone in the crowd thinks (roughly speaking): "Seriously?"
    • Seriously. The twins get tied up and Jack revels in his ability to boss the others around.
    • As the fighting between Jack and Ralph worsens, Piggy yells at them to let him speak and holds up the conch.
    • Surprisingly, everyone quiets down.
    • Piggy tries to reason with them, telling them to cut out all this painted savage nonsense. He suggests that law and rescue are better than hunting and breaking things up.
    • Jack's tribe isn't convinced.
    • Remember that lever catapult from Chapter 6? High above them on the cliff, Roger leans on the lever "with a sense of delirious abandonment."
    • Piggy is still holding the conch when the boulder strikes him. The conch shatters into thousands of pieces, and Piggy falls forty feet toward the sea.
    • He lands on the rocks below, the contents of his skull oozing out.
    • We are told that his body twitches a bit, "like a pig's after it has been killed."
    • The boys watch in horror as the waves suck Piggy's body into the sea.
    • Apparently, this is the sign Jack needed: he screams that he really is chief now because the conch is gone, and then throws his spear at Ralph.
    • Jabbed in the ribs, Ralph turns and runs, with the savages (ineffectively) hurling spears after them.
    • Jack returns to home base, standing with Roger in front of Sam and Eric and demanding they join his tribe.
    • There's an interesting Jack-Roger moment here; Roger edges past Jack, "only just avoiding pushing him with his shoulder." Jack shouts and pokes at the twins, but we end the chapter with Roger advancing towards them menacingly—"wielding a nameless authority."
  • Chapter 12

    Cry of the Hunters

    • Ralph is completely alone now—no Piggy, no Simon, no Samneric.
    • He hides in the thick underbrush, wondering what to do about the rather serious wound on his ribs.
    • He can't wash himself without risking capture, so he just lies there, trying to think.
    • At one point, peering out from his hiding spot, he sees a painted face—Bill. But no; this wasn't Bill. It was a savage who had nothing to do with Bill.
    • Finally, as the sunlight starts to fade, he sneaks over to the edge of the thicket so he can see what Jack and his group are doing.
    • The smoke is rising and he can smell the pig they are roasting. Ralph is hungry.
    • He tries to convince himself that they will leave him alone, that everything was an accident and that "they're not as bad as that." It doesn't work.
    • He makes his way back to the beach and on the way comes to a clearing in the forest.
    • Yes, it is the same clearing we saw before, the one with the Lord of the Flies, now checking out Ralph "like one who knows all the answers and won't tell."
    • Ralph smashes the skull with his fists, bruising his knuckles in the process, but even afterwards still thinks the head is grinning (its smile is just wider now that it's been split open). He grabs the spear on which the head had been impaled and makes off.
    • As night falls, Ralph goes back to Castle Rock to stare at the savages and Jack.
    • He is completely isolated and lonely. He wonders if he can't just wander into the fort, as though it were a game, say "I've got pax" and laugh about it. After all, aren't these the same boys who said "Sir" and wore caps?
    • Not so much. The tribe—including Sam and Eric—is dancing and chanting, "Kill the beast. Cut his throat! Spill his blood!"
    • Ralph is at the end of his rope—Piggy is dead, Samneric are savages. There is no signal fire. The conch is smashed to powder. The whole situation sucks unbelievably.
    • Eventually, Ralph sneaks down and calls out softly to Sam and Eric. They come over, but they don't want to—they tell Ralph to go away.
    • Ralph begins to say "If it were light–" and the narration tells us that, if it were light, the boys would burn in shame.
    • Sam and Eric say "they hurt us," and reveal that Jack is planning to hunt him (Ralph) tomorrow, starting early in the morning.
    • And by hunt, they mean kill.
    • Ralph begs them to come with him, but they are obviously too scared: Roger and the chief are both terrors, but Roger…
    • But Roger what? We don't find out, but we're guessing it's pretty bad.
    • Also bad: Ralph has sharpened a stick on both ends.
    • Weird.
    • Hearing footsteps approaching, Samneric quickly hand Ralph a hunk of meat and then run off.
    • Ralph eats and falls asleep in the thicket near the camp, still wondering what this sharpened stick business means.
    • (Do you get it? It means Ralph is going to get a little Lord of the Flies treatment himself.)
    • When he wakes up, he realizes that Jack is just feet away, right outside the thicket where he's hiding.
    • Ralph gets ready to fight, and sees the boys throwing great rocks (à la the killing-Piggy method) toward the dense thicket he's hiding in. The red rocks go past him and roll towards the sea.
    • That doesn't work, so the boys try to smoke him out with a fire.
    • Ralph worms his way back through the thicket (away from the smoke) and toward the forest.
    • A small savage is waiting for him as he emerges, but the poor little guy is rubbing the smoke out of his eyes.
    • No time for sympathy! Ralph stabs the little boy and runs away.
    • Now what? Climb a tree? Just keep running? Sit down and cry? Piggy was the brains of this operation.
    • Finally, Ralph decides to hide again, lunging into the deepest tangle of creepers he can find.
    • As he lies there, he realizes the fire that the savages set to smoke him out has spread, once again much like wildfire.
    • While under the vines, Ralph suddenly sees the legs of a savage moving toward him.
    • The savage is holding a stick that is… sharpened on both ends. Dun dun dun.
    • Ralph tells himself not to scream and tries to hold still—when the savage's face peers underneath the vines.
    • Ralph screams and plunges out, snarling and bloody. He swings at the savage until the guy falls, but there are others coming.
    • He runs away as a spear flies past him.
    • What follows is one of the best, heart-pounding chase scenes ever, as Ralph runs desperately through the forest, trying to evade the savages.
    • He hears them all crashing through the underbrush as they give chase.
    • Ralph stumbles over a root and falls, just as he sees one of their shelters burst into flame.
    • As he rolls down the hill, he realizes he's close to the water's edge.
    • Well, this is it. Ralph covers himself with his arms and cries for mercy.
    • When he finally opens his eyes and staggers to his feet, he's staring up at a white-topped cap with a gold anchor on the brim.
    • Whoa! A naval officer! They're both pretty surprised to see each other.
    • Behind him, Ralph can see a ship in the water, its "bows hauled up and held by two ratings." And, in the "stern-sheets another rating [holds] a sub-machine gun."
    • The officer says "hello" and Ralph suddenly realizes how filthy he is.
    • Any adults on the island? Nope. Just a semicircle of boys, their bodies "streaked with colored clay, sharp sticks in their hands."
    • The officer assumes they've been playing a game and asks jokingly if anyone was killed.
    • Ralph answers, "Only two" and makes it clear the bodies are gone.
    • The officer finally catches on that he is serious and whistles softly.
    • The whole island is "shuddering with flame," and other boys appear, coming out of the jungle, brown and with distended bellies. Little Percival comes running—he tries to start his incantation (name and address, which comforted him so much before) but he can't remember it.
    • The officer asks who's boss and Ralph says loudly, "I am."
    • Jack starts to protest but thinks better of it.
    • Remember how he was described as a freaky, painted idol? Now he's just "a little boy who wore the remains of a […] black cap on his red hair."
    • Irony alert: instead of Ralph's precious signal fire, it is the smoke that Jack created—in an attempt to kill Ralph—that the rescuers saw.
    • The adult gives them a little lecture, saying that a group of British boys should have put up a better show than this.
    • Ralph tries to explain that it was good at first, and the officer nods, adding that it was "like the Coral Island," another book about boys stranded on an island.
    • Now that he's finished running for his life, Ralph has time to think about what's happened. He begins to cry, sobbing for the first time about "the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy."
    • The officer is a little embarrassed and turns away to give the boys time to pull themselves together, letting his eyes rest on the "trim cruiser in the distance."
    • Oh, and that trim cruiser? It's involved in an equally violent and bloody war—so maybe that officer shouldn't be giving anyone any lectures.