Lord of the Flies: Questions & Answers | SparkNotes (2023)

Who is the Lord of the Flies?

Physically, the Lord of the Flies is the pig head that Jack, Roger, and the hunters mount on a sharpened stick and leave as an offering for the beast. The head is described as dripping blood, eerily grinning, and attracting a swarm of buzzing flies. When The Lord of the Flies “speaks” to Simon, we can assume that his voice is a hallucinatory effect of Simon’s disintegrating mental state. The Lord of the Flies suggests to Simon that the boys will be their own undoing. Simon loses consciousness after the episode, and is killed later that night. Later, when Roger and Jack vow to hunt and kill Ralph, they imply that they will repeat their offering to the beast, using Ralph’s head this time. Symbolically, the Lord of the Flies represents the evil inside each one of the boys on the island.

What is the conch and what does it symbolize?

A conch is a type of mollusk with a pink and white shell in the shape of a spiral. Once the animal inside dies, the shell can be used as a trumpet by blowing into one end. InLord of the Flies, the boys use a conch to call meetings and also to designate who is speaking. In this way, the conch symbolizes democracy and free speech – anyone who is holding the conch can speak his mind, and everyone else must listen and wait their turns for the conch. However, the fact that the conch is easily broken, signalling the end of civil communication, symbolizes the fragility of democracy, which needs protection by all participants in order to survive.

How does Simon die?

After talking to the Lord of the Flies, Simon discovers the body of the paratrooper on the mountain and realizes the boys have mistaken the corpse for the beast. Meanwhile, Jack and his boys have been chanting and dancing around the fire, whipping themselves into a bloodthirsty frenzy. When Simon appears and attempts to explain the true identity of the beast, the boys mistake him for the beast itself and attack and kill him. Later, Piggy tries to deny that he and Ralph were involved in Simon’s murder, but Ralph insists on acknowleging that they participated.

Why does Jack start his own tribe?

From the beginning of the novel, Jack and Ralph both want to be leader of the boys, and disagree not only about who the leader should be, but what style of leadership is most effective. The tension mounts between Jack and Ralph until Chapter 8, when they argue openly. After Ralph mocks Jack’s hunters as “boys armed with sticks,” Jack erupts into an angry diatribe and rails against Ralph and his poor leadership skills. He insists that Ralph is a coward and that he himself would be a better leader. But after no one else agrees by vote, Jack leaves the group in tears. Hours later, many of the boys have left Ralph to join Jack’s tribe, lured by the promise of hunting, eating meat and having fun. Soon the two tribes are in violent conflict with each other.

Do the boys get rescued from the island?

Yes. Although Ralph has insisted throughout the novel on the importance of a fire to signal passing ships, what ultimately attracts a ship is not Ralph’s fire but the massive blaze set by Jack in order to kill Ralph. While pursuing Ralph through the forest, Jack sets a huge fire to scare Ralph into the open. A passing British Navy ship sees the fire and sends an officer ashore. The officer not only saves Ralph from being murdered by Jack, he also saves all the boys from the further violence that would surely have occurred had they stayed on the island.

Why is Ralph chosen to be the chief?

At Piggy’s suggestion, Ralph uses a conch to call a meeting with all the boys stranded on the island. Ralph then organizes the boys and suggests that they decide on a chief. Ralph is chosen because, as Golding observes, “there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on his knees, was set apart.” The boys recognize Ralph as a natural leader, and they associate him with civilization because the conch recalls the bullhorns adults would have used to organize the boys back home.

Why does Jack think he should be the chief?

Jack believes he is superior to Ralph because of his status back home. He states, “I ought to be chief . . . because I’m chapter chorister and head boy.” Later, Jack thinks he should be chief because he is a strong hunter. Jack challenges Ralph’s leadership, saying, “He’s not a hunter. He’d never have got us meat.” Throughout the book, Jack believes he has the right to ignore the democratic process and do what he wants.

Why are Piggy’s glasses important?

Piggy’s glasses are important because they enable Ralph’s group to light a signal fire that can help them get rescued. The glasses are later used by Jack’s group to light fires for having pig roasts. Ultimately, the glasses represent the power of fire to bring comfort and keep the boys linked to civilization as well as the power to cause death and destruction, such as when the fire gets out of control and kills a “littlun.” When Jack breaks and later steals Piggy’s glasses, these occurrences demonstrate how far the boys have fallen into savagery.

Who is the first boy to die on the island?

One of the “littluns”—the boy with the mulberry-colored birthmark—is the first boy to die. The fact that “that other boy whose mulberry-marked face had not been seen since the evening of the great fire” indicates that he died when the initial signal fire raged out of control. While this first death seems insignificant, it foreshadows the other deaths that will happen as the situation with the boys spirals out of control, just like that first fire.

Why does Jack hate Ralph?

From the beginning, Jack, who is the head choir boy back home, thinks he should be the chief, but the other boys choose Ralph. The tension between Ralph and Jack grows because Jack has different priorities—to hunt and have fun—than Ralph, who wants to hold onto civilization and get rescued. Jack and Ralph are described as “two continents of experience and feeling, unable to communicate.” Jack later challenges Ralph’s leadership and feels humiliated when the boys still will not openly choose him. “I’m not going to be part of Ralph’s lot,” he announces as he breaks from the group—which represents civilization’s constraints—to start his own savage tribe.

What is the beast?

At first, the beast is what the “littluns” call the scary things in the night, and it soon represents the unknown and the boys’ fears. Simon discovers that the beast is, in fact, a dead pilot who, readers learn, fell to the island during the night: “There was a speck above the island, a figure dropping swiftly beneath a parachute, a figure that hung with dangling limbs.” Belief in the beast is fueled by Sam and Eric, who hear the opening and closing of the parachute, and by Jack, Ralph, and Roger, who encounter the decayed body of the pilot without recognizing that it is a dead human body, not a beast.

What does Simon want to tell the other boys?

Simon wants to tell the boys the truth about the beast, who the boys think is real. After his epileptic fit, Simon encounters the dead pilot and recognizes that the beast is, in fact, just a dead man that may be frightening but can’t hurt them. Simon “turned to the poor broken thing that sat stinking by his side. The beast was harmless and horrible; and the news must reach the others as soon as possible.”

How does Piggy die?

Piggy dies after being hit by a large rock that “struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee,” causing him to fall fatally on the rocks below. Roger, looking to injure or kill either Ralph or Piggy, releases the large rock from above. This happens when Ralph and Piggy go to Jack’s tribe to appeal to their sense of rules and order and ask them for Piggy’s glasses back. Roger’s act causes the death of Piggy, marks the end of reason on the island, and cuts any connection the boys had left to civilized behaviors.

Does Ralph survive?

As Simon predicts when he tells Ralph, “You’ll get back all right,” Ralph does survive, barely. Toward the end of the novel, Jack and his tribe hunt Ralph in order to kill him. Some of the boys even start a fire to smoke Ralph out of hiding. In a panic, Ralph runs down to the beach, where he unexpectedly ends up at the feet of a naval officer who saw the smoke from the fire raging out of control on the island. The presence of an adult brings an end to the boys’ savage activities and saves Ralph’s life.

Why is the backdrop of the war important to the story?

The backdrop of the war is important to the story because it is why the boys’ plane is shot down, an event that kills the adults on the plane and leaves the surviving boys alone on the island. Later when a dead pilot descends by parachute onto the island like “a sign came down from the world of grown-ups,” the boys think the pilot is the beast, something to be feared. In a sense, the boys’ idea is true because the pilot represents the brutality of war, which reveals the dark side of humanity. At the end of the story, the naval officer who rescues the boys seems to represent all that is orderly and civilized, but he also represents the death and destruction of war that underscore Golding’s point about humanity’s capacity for evil.


What does Lord of the 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 do Piggy's glasses symbolize? ›

The spectacles represent the boys' only means of obtaining fire through reflecting the sun's rays, and fire itself is symbolic of survival and rescue. Jack snatches the glasses off Piggy's face to create the fire, despite Piggy's protestations, and his dependence upon them.

Who kills Piggy? ›

While Piggy admonishes the boys for becoming savages, Roger releases a huge boulder in Piggy's direction, knocking him off the cliff to his death on the rocks below. A large wave quickly carries off his body.

What foreshadows Piggy's death? ›

Piggy's Death

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. “Sucks to your ass-mar!” Ralph replies, foreshadowing the boys' lack of concern about Piggy's physical vulnerability.

Why does Ralph cry at the end of the novel? ›

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 the main moral of Lord of the Flies? ›

"The theme is an attempt to trace the defects of society to the defects of human nature. The moral is that the shape of a society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however apparently logical or respectable."

What are 4 symbols in Lord of the Flies? ›

Other major symbols in the novel include:
  • The Lord of the Flies.
  • The Island.
  • The Fire.
  • Piggy's Glasses.
  • The Conch.
Dec 22, 2021

What is irony in Lord of the Flies? ›

Dramatic Irony in 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 does Jack symbolize in Lord of the Flies? ›

Jack, Ralph's antagonist, represents the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill and dictator, the authoritarian man-of-power who enters the scene like a sergeant. Jack is the strong-willed, egomaniacal boy, who is the novel's prime representative of the instinct of savagery and violence.

What does the beastie 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.

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.

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 was Simon killed Lord of the Flies? ›

Introduction to Simon's Death

He was put to death by people in his community for spreading the word of God. In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, the character of Simon is also put to death while trying to spread knowledge to the other boys on the island.

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.

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 foreshadows Simon's death? ›

In a sense, Simon's murder is an almost inevitable outcome of his encounter with the Lord of the Flies in Chapter 8. During the confrontation in the previous chapter, the Lord of the Flies foreshadows Simon's death by promising to have some “fun” with him.

Where is Simon's death foreshadowed? ›

For instance, the very first paragraph of the novel includes foreshadowing when it states, “He was clambering heavily among the creepers and broken trunks when a bird, a vision of red and yellow, flashed upwards with a witch-like cry; and this cry was echoed by another.” The bird's cries represent Simon's death, and ...

Why is Ralph betrayed? ›

Despite Ralph's strong relationship to the other boys in the beginning of the narrative, he is betrayed because his leadership approach is ineffective. This is a challenge that people come across in their lives and sometimes some people's betrayal is larger than others.

How did Ralph get saved in the end? ›

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.

Does Ralph become evil? ›

Althought Ralph is a sympathetic character, our protagonist and one of the few who seem to take a meditative view of their own actions, he also has evil in his heart, as we see in the case of Simon's death.

What is the most important lesson in Lord of the Flies? ›

"The theme is an attempt to trace the defects of society to the defects of human nature. The moral is that the shape of a society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however apparently logical or respectable."

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

The major conflict in Lord of the Flies is the struggle between Jack and Ralph. The fight for who will lead the island represents the clash between a peaceful democracy, as symbolized by Ralph, and a violent dictatorship, as symbolized by Jack.

What is a good topic sentence for Lord of the Flies? ›

In Lord of the Flies William Golding shows many internal conflicts within the boys of the novel. In Lord of the Flies William Golding uses the relationship between Ralph and Jack to show person versus person conflicts.

What is so good about Lord of the Flies? ›

The book is an allegory and commentary on morality and society. It talks about the difference of living in an orderly world compared to living a world in chaos, it talks about using reason over emotions in your judgment and living in order and law versus living in savagery.

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.

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

Ralph and Piggy discover the conch shell on the beach at the start of the novel and use it to summon the boys together after the crash separates them. Used in this capacity, the conch shell becomes a powerful symbol of civilization and order in the novel.

What is Piggy's most important detail? ›

Piggy is the intellectual with poor eyesight, a weight problem, and asthma. He is the most physically vulnerable of all the boys, despite his greater intelligence. Piggy represents the rational world. By frequently quoting his aunt, he also provides the only female voice.

What is Piggy's main conflict? ›

Piggy's main conflict in Lord of the Flies is man vs. man. He is bullied by many of the other boys. Although he has health issues and poor eyesight, the bigger problem is when another boy takes his glasses away.

Why does Jack paint his face? ›

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 mental illness does Jack have in Lord of the Flies? ›

In reading Lord of the Flies the writer finds out that character named Jack Merridew exhibits symptoms Narcissistic Personality Disorder (also referred to as NPD), some types of self defense mechanism, and violent behavior throughout the story.

What does the conch symbolize in Lord of the Flies? ›

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 was Piggy's idea? ›

Piggy finally comes up with the brilliant idea that, if they are all too scared to go up on the mountain, they should instead build a new signal fire down by the beach. Everyone is excited and goes about building the new fire.

What are some of Piggy's ideas? ›

Piggy believes in rules, timeliness, and order, and as the island descends into brutal chaos, Piggy's position comes under threat of intense violence.

How did the Lord of the Flies end? ›

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.

Why did they ban Lord of the Flies? ›

Lord of the Flies by William Golding was challenged in the Waterloo Iowa schools in 1992 because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled.

When Piggy dies in Lord of the Flies? ›

Piggy dies when approaching Jack's camp with Ralph. The two hope to appeal to reason and get the whole group of castaways together again in cooperation. Up above on the rocks, Roger dislodges a boulder that glances off Piggy's front from face to knees and sends him over the cliff to his death on the rocks below.


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