Title : The Lord of the Flies SUMMARY AND FACTS
Author : William Golding
One fact about this book should be established from the start – this is not a children’s book. The “littluns” and “bigguns” represent members of the human race. The conflict between law and barbarism would have, I believe to be the same had the island been inhabited with adult survivors instead of children.
The novel is about a transition from an immensely exciting adventure of some children, to what eventually becomes full-scale war, ending with the arrival of the naval officer who rescued them. Tough I still wonder if they were really saved, considering the atomic war which, at that time was still raging around the globe.
The book begins by introducing the two of the characters – Ralph and Piggy. Ralph finds a conch (a shell shaped in such a way that when blown it will sound) and blows it, summoning the rest of the boys, who were on the aeroplane and survived the crash. Last to arrive are the choir, who are described as a “black catterpillar moving along the beach.”
On closer examination is is found that there is a wide variance in the age of the boys, from about 6 to 12 years of age. From here on in the book the younger boys are simply referred to as the “littluns” and the older boys as “bigguns” although the younger children are referred to more collectively in the story. Ralph is elected chief of the group and his first action is for Jack, Simon and himself to go on a scout to check if the island is really and island or is attached to anything else, they find that it is an island and return to the rest of the boys.
It is decided at the meeting held by Ralph that people should only be allowed to speak at meetings if they have possession of the conch, thus giving the conch a special power to the boys. It is also decided that the choir should become hunters for food, with Jack (the choir leader) in charge of them. Above all this though is the importance of a fire being lit and staying alight night and day for a ship to see and hopefully rescue them.
At this point a small boy comes forward and tells the boys that he saw a monster which he calls a “beastie” in the woods. This is met with mockery and a little uncertainty from the other boys, and they go to the top of the mountain to light their fire for ships. In the ensuing chaos as people gather wood and light the fire, one of the “littluns” is lost and never seen again. As the fire crackles and burns, the “littluns” think they see snakes, which characterises their growing fear.
The children begin to built huts, but quickly lose interest, deciding to play, bathe, or eat, leaving Ralph and Simon to build them alone. Ralph is annoyed at this situation and talks to Jack about is, who seems to enjoy his hunting and has a real desire to kill a pig. At this point Jack first gets his idea to paint himself to sneak up on the pigs.
Jack paints himself using clay, making a mask for himself and, with the help of the others captures a pig without Ralph’s knowledge. While this is happening a ship passes by, and because the boys who were meant to be watching the fire are out hunting, the fire goes out and the ship passes. Ralph is infuriated by this and Jack breaks Piggy’s one of the lenses of Piggy’s glasses.
An emergency meeting is called by Ralph, who believes that they must confront the growing fears of the boys of a monster and dispel them forever. Another one of the “littluns” comes forward and talks about how he saw a monster in the forest, and Simon to help erase their fears tells them that it was him in the forest that the boy saw. Simon also puts forward the thought that “Maybe it’s really only us” but because of his shyness cannot really formulate