Lord of the Flies

The novel "Lord Of The Flies," written by William Golding, was first published in 1954 by Faber and Faber.

Plot synopsis:

A group of young schoolboys is dropped after an aeroplane crash on a tropical island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. They are victims of a war which is still raging at some other place. No adults survive.

Golding shows how the boys try to survive on the island, by learning how to make fire, building shelters, hunting and keeping discipline. First they like their new found freedom but under the circumstances of the total isolation their tensions finally break out into conflicts. They replace their leader, who was elected, by a boy who is much more aggressive and as a result the whole community is aggressive but they are also willed to accept their authoritarian leader.

When finally rescue comes the boys have lost all their civilised habits, they have become "savages".

Main characters:


The first time the character of Ralph occurs is on the first page. He is elected as a chief with a great majority over Jack.

Ralph is twelve years old, good looking, athletically built and from a middle-class family. The boy has qualities of leadership and this quality doesn't include ruthlessness and assertiveness.

Ralph thinks step by step but he always needs Piggy's inspiration. He is the only boy who knows how important their rescue is: (p. 98)" Hasn't any one got any sense? We've got to relight that fire. You never thought of that, Jack, did you? Or don't any of you want to be rescued?" Ralph always feels responsible for the "littluns" -the smaller children- and he thinks that Simon's death is his fault. Ralph's most notable quality is his conscience which leads him to worry about the other boys.

Jack Merridew:

Jack, Ralph's antagonist, is the same age, thin, tall and bony, with light blue eyes and red hair. Mostly because of him the community on the island becomes destroyed.

Jack is quick to become angry, he is aggressive, arrogant and cruel. This comes out clearly at this scene: (p.22) "We'd better all have names," said Ralph, "so I'm Ralph."

"We got most names," said Piggy. "Got 'em just now."

"Kids'names," said Merridew. "Why should I be Jack? I'm Merridew."

Ralph turned to him quickly. This was the voice of one who knew his own mind.

Jack wants to be a chief and he gibes at Ralph that he isn't perfect but he himself is. Jack is self-confident and thoughtless of others, e.g. he has no concern for the littluns.

Despite his age and appearance Jack is only a little boy, the only thing on his mind is to play games.


Piggy joins Ralph at the very beginning of the novel. In spite of his bad grammar it is clear that he doesn't have such a good education as the other boys in the story.

As the reader can easily see from his nickname Piggy is fat and greedy. We never get to know his real name.

Piggy is the most intellectual of the children and his suggestions for what to do next are the most sensible ones.

Piggy is older than his years and he is really a true and wise friend for his knowledge and understanding people.


William Golding describes the novel "Lord of the Flies" as a fable. This shows the simplicity the story is told. A fable normally shows aspects of human behaviour and the word fable comes from Latin and means story.

The title "Lord of the Flies" comes from the Hebrew "Baal-Zebub". In Judaism and Christianity it means that the figure of the evil gets personified. The author identifies the "Lord of the Flies" with a demonic power in a human being.

Another interesting part are the chapter headlines, which are in a way self-explanatory.

The first chapter is called "The Sound of the Shell", which is a direct reference to the conch which is used to call assemblies, therefore it is a symbol for order an law.

The other example I'll pick out is chapter five: "Beast from Water" which indicates the superstition finally leading to savagery.

A very important role in the novel plays the "beast". This creature haunts in the children's imagination.

First it appears as the "snake thing" and all of them are afraid. Jack is told by his hunter experiences why all the littluns are frightened and have nightmares. They are afraid because it is human nature to be frightened when it is dark.

Jack can live with this fear and he thinks any beast can be haunted and killed (p. 90)

(" The thing is-fear can't hurt you any more than a dream. There aren't any beasts to be afraid of on this island.")

Piggy disagrees about fear. He thinks everything wrong can be explained. Life is scientific - therefore there is no beast to fear - (p.92) "unless we get frightened of people".

Personal comment:

I liked reading this book, because it shows that even children are able to live alone and that they are able to control everything.

This novel was very gripping and I couldn't stop reading because I really had to know whether there comes help for the kids or not.

I really didn't like the character of Jack I don't know why, but I in a way I really couldn't stand him, whereas Ralph was my favourite character, I liked his acting, his way of speaking....

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