Lord of the Flies by William Golding (2023)

Title: Lord of the Flies

Author: William Golding

Publisher: Faber and Faber

Genre: Allegory, Social Commentary

First Publication: 1954

Language: English

Setting Place: Deserted Tropical Island

Protagonist: Ralph

Major Characters: Ralph, Piggy, Jack, Simon, Samneric, Roger

Narration: Third person Omniscient

Theme: Evil, Outlets for violence, Human nature, Loss of innocence, Savagery Vs Civilization

Book Summary : Lord of the Flies by William Golding

In the midst of a nuclear war, a plane carrying a group of British school boys crashed on a deserted island. Without adult supervision they must work together and govern themselves to survive. At first the boys are civilized and elect Ralph, a boy of twelve years old, as a leader. Things start out okay and boys use Conch shell as a talking stick.

The first day goes rather smoothly and they discuss about hot to get rescued and what they have to do until then any ship come to bring them home. Ralph is determined about creating a smoke signal, so Samneric, a pair of twin boys, is assigned the duty to start and watch a signal fire. Another group, the choirboys lead by Jack, elect themselves to become the hunters and provide meat for the group. Simon, an enlightened boy and Piggy, a scientific thinker, quickly become the counsel for Ralph. Besides these boys, there are several younger boys about the age of six.

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”

Jack and his group become increasingly interested in killing sows. They begin to paint their faces and track the animals for hunting. All the boys begin to be afraid of an imaginary beast in the jungle. Their fears are further fueled when a dead man with a parachute landed on the top of the mountain. The boys begin to see Jack as a protector and look to him for leadership.

Then the conflict increased between Ralph and Jack. Most of the boys on island joined Jack’s tribe, except Ralph, Piggy, Sam and Eric and a couple of the littluns. Jack and group have become complete savages partaking in daily hunting and tribal dancing.

Character List: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1)

Ralph- The main protagonist of the story, a twelve year old boy who was elected as leader of the boys. Ralph tries to maintain discipline, order, structure. He represents the civilizing instinct of human beings.

Jack – The antagonist of the novel, and one of the older boys and leader of the choir. Jack becomes increasingly dark and disturbed during his stay on island. He represents the evil that exists within all men in uncivilized situations.

Piggy – Piggy is Ralph right hand man. Though criticized for his weight, asthma and lack of physical agility, He is the scientific mind and the rational thinker of Ralph’s team.

Roger – An oddly secretive and sadistic older boy who thrives on preying on those who are younger and weaker. Roger quickly becomes Jack’s first follower and carries out Jack’s evil wishes.

Sam and Eric – Also known as “samneric”, they are twin boys who seem to be one person. They are follower of Ralph and enjoy their duty of keeping the fire signal going.

Maurice-He is Jack’s key supporters, accompanies him on the raids on Ralph’s camp.

Simon – The “enlightened” boy with a true natural sense of morality who spends a lot of time alone with nature. Simon helps and comforts the younger boys in their dreadful moments.

The Lord of the Flies – It’s the name given to the sow’s head that Jack’s gang transfixes on spear as an offering to the “beast.” The Lord of the Flies comes to symbolize the primeval instincts of power and barbaric nature that take control of Jack’s tribe.

Littluns-The littlest boys, around ages six and up.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (2)

Book Review: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

In 1954, William Golding wrote Lord of the Flies, when the world was in the middle of the silent yet terrifying Cold War soon after the World War II. It is not only a tale of boys surviving after their plane crashed on a deserted island; it is an allegorical novel about the conflicts between savagery and civilization.

The significant symbolism which is rather easy to comprehend, made it one of the most popular and admired books in history. Lord of the Flies by William Golding presents a memorable and haunting account of believable characters portrayed so subtly and accurately.

“The thing is – fear can’t hurt you any more than a dream.”

Lord of the Flies by William Golding is based on a series of events following a plane crash that leaves a group of young school-going children stranded on a deserted Island during the Cold War. Lord of the Flies by William Golding is the story of those boy’s shocking survival. The dreams of all the boys have finally come true: after all, who wouldn’t want a whole island all to themselves to play on without any nagging from adults? Soon after a day or two, the boys realize they needed a leader. The main protagonist, Ralph, is elected as a leader of the group because to his popularity and leadership skills, with Piggy as his sidekick.

All the boys befriend one another, because there is nowhere to go. As the days pass, Jack gets hungrier for authority. What seemed to be a joyous escape from the chaotic adult world at first, soon advances into something far more disturbing and sinister.

I remain convinced to this day that Lord of the Flies is one of those controversial classic books that depends upon how you read it. On the surface it could be read as a simple moralistic tale – a portrayal of what happens when you take people away from society.

“The greatest ideas are the simplest.”

It may look as if Lord of the Flies is just a children’s adventure story. However, there is also a truth concealed deep inside the novel where Golding makes reader conscious of certain issues. The issues it concerns are: society, human nature, good vs. evil, ecological balance and cooperation. This is an allegorical novel where Golding employs the scene of a deserted island and a group of English school boys to serve as a framework, through which he explores the theme of his book.

William Golding uses this deceptively simple setup to question just how civilized we really are and how quickly we can descend into a mob of crazies. The question for the reader is whether these are but immature children or an allegory for the adult world and how quickly mob rule can take over and how few dare to go against the herd.

This story is a powerful depiction of human nature and its role in the rise and fall of democracy. Central to this story is the theme of fear: how it can be used as a means to control people and how it chisels away at our humanity.

“Which is better–to have laws and agree, or to hunt and kill?”

The three main characters Ralph, Jack and Piggy are archetypes of a natural leader, a bully and a nerd. They are not terribly complex people but they are still quite vivid characters who are defined more by their action than their brief moments of introspection. The early chapters have a spirit of adventure or perhaps a child’s idea of utopia, a world without adult supervision. As the characters degenerate into savagery the tone of the book become very dark and disturbing.

William Golding’s prose style is deliberately prosaic; there are no lyrical passages to speak of. This has the effect of amplifying the visceral impact of the narrative. There are however, some creepy surreal scenes involving a pig’s head on a stick. The ending of the novel is clearly telegraphed by the trajectory of the preceding chapters but it is still very effective for all that.

Symbols and motifs:

You will love the action-packed provocative tale of survival in Lord of the Flies by William Golding but also learn three very important characteristics of human nature. First: Human’s desire for social and political order through governments, legislatures and parliaments, depicted by the conch and platform. Second: Human’s natural tendency towards violence, savagery and every nation’s need for military and defense, depicted by the choir-boys-turned-hunters-turned-murderers. And third, our beliefs in the divine interventions and supernatural powers, depicted by the sacrifices and ceremonial dances to appease the “beast”.

Those who didn’t have the opportunity to read it before must not put it on hold any longer.

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What does Lord of the Flies symbolize answers? ›

The characters in Lord of the Flies possess recognizable symbolic significance, which make them as the sort of people around us. Ralph stands for civilization and democracy; Piggy represents intellect and rationalism; Jack signifies savagery and dictatorship; Simon is the incarnation of goodness and saintliness.

Why did Golding write Lord of the Flies answers? ›

William Golding wrote 'Lord of the Flies', because of World War 2. Since he was a part of World War 2, the violence and terror in the war gave him a huge influence about human life.

What was Golding's message in Lord of the Flies? ›

Golding contends that human nature, when free from the constraints of society, draws people away from common sense to savagery. His fundamental arguments are that human beings are savage by nature, and are moved by urges toward brutality and dominance over others.

What is Ralph frustrated about not having enough help with? ›

Ralph expresses his frustration: Although all the boys have agreed to help build shelters, only Simon actually puts in the time and effort alongside Ralph. All the other boys are off playing, bathing, or hunting with Jack, even though Jack and his hunters have failed so far to produce meat.

What does Piggy's death symbolize? ›

Piggy's death signifies the end of Ralph's fragile troop, and a victory by the forces of violence and brutality over the forces of wisdom, kindness, and civility. The death is foreshadowed in the early pages, when Piggy tells Ralph he has asthma, can't swim, needs his glasses to see, and is sick from the fruit.

What does Piggy's character represent? ›

Piggy represents the scientific and rational side of humanity, supporting Ralph's signal fires and helping to problem solve on the island.

What is the message of the Lord of the Flies discuss? ›

The central concern of Lord of the Flies is the conflict between two competing impulses that exist within all human beings: the instinct to live by rules, act peacefully, follow moral commands, and value the good of the group against the instinct to gratify one's immediate desires, act violently to obtain supremacy ...

What is the Lord of the Flies literally and symbolically? ›

Looking at the novel in the context of biblical parallels, the Lord of the Flies recalls the devil, just as Simon recalls Jesus. In fact, the name “Lord of the Flies” is a literal translation of the name of the biblical name Beelzebub, a powerful demon in hell sometimes thought to be the devil himself.

What is the evil in Lord of the Flies? ›

The mythical Beast takes on a variety of forms. First as a dream, then a snake or sea monster, then the dead pilot's body. The real Beast is the evil that lives inside the boys - but only Simon fully realises this and, ironically, he is killed when the other boys mistakenly think he is the creature itself.

What are the 3 main themes in Lord of the Flies? ›

Three themes in 'Lord of the Flies' are civilization vs. savagery, the impact of humankind on nature, and the nature of humanity.

Who killed Piggy in Lord of the Flies? ›

Roger, the character least able to understand the civilizing impulse, crushes the conch shell as he looses the boulder and kills Piggy, the character least able to understand the savage impulse.

What is the most significant symbol in Lord of the Flies? ›

Three of the most prominent symbols in Lord of the Flies are: 1) The Island, which represents an Eden-like paradise; 2) The Fire, which symbolizes the hope of being rescued and re-joining civilization; 3) The Conch, which is a symbol of civilized order. There are many more symbols in the novel.

What are the three reasons that Ralph is crying at the end of the book? ›

Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of a true, wise friend called Piggy. These lines from the end of Chapter 12 occur near the close of the novel, after the boys encounter the naval officer, who appears as if out of nowhere to save them.

What is one of Ralph's weakness? ›

While Ralph proves in many ways a thoughtful, charismatic, and effective leader, his leadership is flawed by his indecision and inability to think clearly in crucial moments. Ralph's confusion in decisive moments proves too great a weakness for him to maintain his leadership peacefully.

What are the four main complaints Ralph brings up? ›

  • At the assembly, Ralph comments about the FOUR most important issues/problems he believes the boys face at this time. ...
  • Water needs to be brought from the stream…. ...
  • Need Shelters.
  • Need to have a place to go to the bathroom… ...
  • Need to keep the fire and fire watch.

How is Simon's death ironic? ›

Simon's death presents irony in a few ways, most notably because he is coming down the mountain to prove to the other boys that the beast does not exist, then is mistaken for the beast and killed.

What is the irony in the Lord of the Flies? ›

The irony is that grownups are afraid. They can't discuss and agree on things. That is the reason the boys are trapped on an island. If adults could discuss, there would have been no war, and the boys would be safe at school.

What happens to Piggy's dead body? ›

Piggy scolds Jack's group for becoming savages, and while he is speaking, Roger pushes a boulder down the hill. The boulder knocks the conch out of Piggy's hands and knocks him off of the cliff. Piggy lands on rocks below, and the ocean washes his body away.

Why is Piggy's name ironic? ›

The boys think so little of Piggy that they never even bother to learn his real name. Instead, they give him the cruel nickname Piggy. Their lack of respect for Piggy is ironic because Piggy is actually the most intelligent character in the book.

What was Piggy's actual name? ›

Piggy's real name is never revealed. Instead he is treated as though he is one of the pigs on the island - also like one of them, he is brutally killed. Piggy remains an outsider and a victim throughout the novel, though Ralph does come to respect him. There are many things that mark Piggy out as "different".

Who is the real hero in the Lord of the Flies? ›

Ralph is the athletic, charismatic protagonist of Lord of the Flies. Elected the leader of the boys at the beginning of the novel, Ralph is the primary representative of order, civilization, and productive leadership in the novel.

What happens at the end of Lord of the Flies? ›

In the final pages of Lord of the Flies , Ralph runs through the jungle fleeing both Jack and his pack of savage boys and the fire Jack set on the mountain. Ralph emerges onto the beach and is discovered by a British Naval officer who has come ashore after seeing the burning island from his ship.

What does the pig head symbolize in Lord of the Flies? ›

Here, Golding makes clear that the pig's head, which is also referred to as Lord of the Flies, another name for the Devil, is a symbol of the beast, which represents evil. During his hallucination, Simon understands that the beast is not something that can be killed because it exists inside humans.

Why is Jack obsessed with killing a pig for meat? ›

Why is Jack obsessed with killing a pig for meat? Jack wants to prove a point that he is contributing to the island. His job is to hunt, and he wants to prove the point that he can hunt by killing a pig for meat. He is also trying to avenge himself, because the previous time he was not able to kill the pig.

What are the three symbols in Lord of the Flies essay? ›

Above all others though comes symbolism. To discuss symbolism in Lord of the Flies, this essay analyzes three main important objects being the conch, fire, the bestie, and “Piggy's” eyeglasses. Through each of these three symbols Golding shows how the boys adapt and change throughout the novel.

Why does the Lord of the Flies symbolize evil? ›

The characters in Lord of the Flies can be interpreted as prototypes of human behaviour, where Ralph represents civilization and leadership, and Jack represents the savagery within the human soul. In a broader sense, we may consider Ralph as representing "good" and Jack as representing "evil".

What does the beast symbolize? ›

The Beast. The imaginary beast that frightens all the boys represents the primal instinct of savagery that exists within all human beings. The boys are afraid of the beast, but only Simon reaches the realization that they fear the beast because it exists within each of them.

Is Jack Guilty Lord of the Flies? ›

The Jury Deliberates

Then Jack is guilty because he was part of the circle.” “He wasn't killing Simon on purpose. He thought it was the beast.”

Who killed Simon in Lord of the Flies? ›

In the darkness, Simon crawls into the group and tries to tell them what he has seen but it is too late. The boys have lost all control and thinking he is the Beast, they kill Simon - even Ralph and Piggy are involved. That night, Simon's body is carried out to sea.

What are the creepy things in Lord of the Flies? ›

The boys in Lord of the Flies are terrified of 'the beast' which is variously described as the 'beastie', a 'snake-thing', and 'some sort of ghost'. Ralph tries to convince the littluns that ghosts don't exist, but they all raise their hands in the gloom when they are asked if they believe.

Why is it called Lord of the Flies? ›


Lord of the Flies refers to Beelzebub, another name for the devil. He is also called the Lord of Filth and Dung. Throughout the novel, the children grow dirtier and dirtier, an outward reflection of their inner state. As their savagery and evil increases, they seek a symbol, a god to worship.

Why does Jack paint his face? ›

Answer and Explanation: In Lord of the Flies, Jack paints his face like a mask to act as camouflage so the pigs cannot see him when he is hunting. The mask, however, gives him a new identity and allows him to separate from the rules of society.

What is the climax of Lord of the Flies? ›

Climax Simon encounters the Lord of the Flies in the forest glade and realizes that the beast is not a physical entity but rather something that exists within each boy on the island. When Simon tries to approach the other boys and convey this message to them, they fall on him and kill him savagely.

What were Piggy's last words? ›

Before arriving, Piggy says his last words: "Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?" A short time later at the camp, Piggy stays back while Ralph tries to talk sense to Jack but it breaks down and the two boys fight. A boulder is rolled downhill, missing Ralph but hitting Piggy.

Why is Simon killed in Lord of the Flies? ›

In Lord of the Flies, Simon was crucified through a beating from the rest of the boys. He was on his way to tell the boys about his revelation that what they thought was the beast was actually a downed parachutist. The boys mistook him for the beast, causing them to beat him to death.

Who all dies in Lord of the Flies? ›

  • Unnamed Pilot - Killed in the crash of his plane on the island.
  • Unnamed Male Parachutist - Impaled on a tree branch after jumping from a crashing plane.
  • Pig - Decapitated by Jack's clan.
  • The Boy With the Birthmark - Burned to death in a fire.

What does Piggy's broken glasses symbolize? ›

Overall, Piggy's damaged glasses represent the increasing helplessness of Ralph's group and the boys' weakened ties to civilization as Jack and his hunters gain strength. The chief led them, trotting steadily, exulting in his achievement.

What do the Littluns symbolize? ›

The littluns symbolize two things in Lord of the Flies—dependency and innocence. The littluns are partly self-sufficient, but they are still dependent on the biguns to keep them safe. The littluns depend on the biguns to hunt, build shelters, and tend the signal fire.

What does the conch symbolize? ›

The conch is used not only to call meetings but also to establish order when the boys talk. Thus, the conch symbolizes civilization, adult rules, and the democratic process. As Ralph is the first to utilize the conch as a social tool, it also becomes a symbol of Ralph's legitimacy as a leader.

What is ironic about the ending of Lord of the Flies? ›

Much of the irony at the end of the novel stems from Golding's portrayal of the naval officer. Although the naval officer saves Ralph, the ending of Lord of the Flies still is not particularly happy, and the moment in which the officer encounters the boys is not one of untainted joy.

Who betrayed Ralph in Chapter 12? ›

Ralph finds a place to sleep for the night. The next morning, his hiding place, a dense thicket, is betrayed by Samneric. The tribe is unsuccessful at reaching him in the thicket, so they flush him out by rolling boulders into it and setting it on fire.

Why does Ralph need to be killed? ›

Jack must destroy Ralph for savagery to prevail over civilization. In the jungle, Ralph comes upon the skull of a pig hung on a spear staked into the ground.

What is Ralph dreading the most? ›

Ralph dreads the curtain that might waver in his brain, blacking out his sense of danger and making a simpleton of him.

What is Ralph's fatal flaw in Lord of the Flies? ›

His fatal flaw (hamartia) is his confidence that the boys would do the morally right thing. For example, he expects the boys to pull their own weight in the attempt to get rescued and in survival on the island.

What is Ralph's biggest fear in Lord of the Flies? ›

Ralph's biggest fear on the island is the fear of not getting rescued. This fear results in his obsession with the signal fire.

Why is Piggy scared of Jack? ›

Piggy is no fan of Jack's, being "intimidated by [Jack's] uniformed superiority and the offhand authority in [his] voice." With his poor eyesight, weight problem, and asthma, Piggy is a boy who could survive only in a civilization that offers the dual protection of medical treatment and cultural affluence — a society ...

Why is Ralph so mad at Jack at the end of Chapter 4? ›

Ralph is furious with Jack, because it was the hunters' responsibility to see that the fire was maintained.

Why is Chapter 5 called Beast from water? ›

Golding uses this chapter to show how the boys' fears take shape as the beast: they focus on possible external sources of evil.

What does the Lord of Flies symbolize? ›

In this way, the Lord of the Flies becomes both a physical manifestation of the beast, a symbol of the power of evil, and a kind of Satan figure who evokes the beast within each human being. Looking at the novel in the context of biblical parallels, the Lord of the Flies recalls the devil, just as Simon recalls Jesus.

What is the main symbolism in Lord of the Flies? ›

Three of the most prominent symbols in Lord of the Flies are: 1) The Island, which represents an Eden-like paradise; 2) The Fire, which symbolizes the hope of being rescued and re-joining civilization; 3) The Conch, which is a symbol of civilized order. There are many more symbols in the novel.

What is the most important symbol in Lord of the Flies essay? ›

Throughout Lord of the Flies, the most important symbol is the conch. The importance of the conch is that it symbolizes everyone that is speaking, in other words, whoever is holding the conch has the power and right to talk and everyone surrounded by him must be listening.

What does the Lord of the Flies symbolize quizlet? ›

The Lord of the Flies symbolizes the devil. It becomes the symbol of law and order. It was used to call meetings to ore and only the person holding the conch could speak. Jack's inclination to disregard the rules of the conch is symbolic of his disregard for law, order and civilization.

What does Simon's death symbolize in Lord of the Flies? ›

Simon was a Jesus-like character who represented the benevolence in humanity, so his death signifies the death of goodness on the island. Simon's death is a key event in revealing the extent to which the boys in Lord of the Flies have succumbed to evilness.

What does the conch shell symbolize? ›

Thus, the conch symbolizes civilization, adult rules, and the democratic process. As Ralph is the first to utilize the conch as a social tool, it also becomes a symbol of Ralph's legitimacy as a leader.

What does the dead pilot symbolize in Lord of the Flies? ›

However, the dead pilot, who symbolizes war and humans' capacity to kill each other, points to a different kind of beast, the evil that exists inside all humans. The fact that Simon is never able to deliver this news because the boys murder him underscores the fact that the beast dwells inside the characters.

Why is the beast important in Lord of the Flies? ›

The Beast. The imaginary beast that frightens all the boys represents the primal instinct of savagery that exists within all human beings. The boys are afraid of the beast, but only Simon reaches the realization that they fear the beast because it exists within each of them.

What are some themes in Lord of the Flies? ›

Lord of the Flies is an allegory, a cautionary tale, and has many important themes, including civilization, rules and order, innocence lost, mob mentality, knowledge, and nature.

What are the hidden symbols in Lord of the Flies? ›

Three symbols that stand out and play an important part in the plot are the symbol of the beastie as fear of the unknown, the conch shell as order and democracy, and the pig head (Lord of the Flies) as the devil and evil.


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