Summary of Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Summary of the Lord of the Flies by William Golding
At the opening of “Lord of the Flies”, we meet with two boys: Ralph and Piggy. They are talking about the situation in which they are trapped. Their discussion provides the background of their situation and depicts some glimpses of a nuclear war where a group of boys was being evacuated to an unnamed destination by an airplane but unluckily plane crashed in the sea near an unfamiliar island, leaving the boys marooned on a nearby island.
Ralph, a handsome and active boy, is excited to be on a heaven-like tropical island where they can enjoy freely without any restriction of adults, but Piggy, a fat boy, is not happy on that island. Both of the boys are making a way from jungle to beach. Ralph is a bit silent and does not take interest in Piggy while Piggy asks about Ralph’s introduction. After showing his swimming skills, Ralph finds a conch. Piggy takes that conch and tells him that it can be blown as a trumpet which creates a sound. Ralph blows conch to call all the boys who are there on the beach.
Listening to the sound, all the boys come out of the jungle, assembling on the beach near Ralph. All the boys are between 6 to 12 years. Jack also arrives there with the choirboys. The boys talk about their situation and conclude to vote for a leader until they are not rescued. Ralph and Jack are the eldest and one is to be opted for the leader of the boys. The boys elect Ralph their leader but Jack does not agree on voting and wants to be the leader of the boys. Ralph suggests him to be the leader of the hunters who will provide food to the little boys who can’t hunt.
Ralph and some boys move into the jungle to explore the island. Jack reveals that he has a sharp knife. Piggy is hurt to be removed from the party going to explore the island, and Ralph consoles him and assigns him a task to take care of the little boys who remain behind at the beach. Ralph, Jack, and Simon explore that there are no inhabitants on the island. The boys are much happy by experiencing the thrill of adventure. Soon they form friendship between them. On the way back to the beach, they see a piglet in the jungle. Jack takes out his knife to show his hunting skills and due to bit hesitation piglet escaped. Jack fiercely stabbed his knife into a tree and vowed that next time he will not let him go.
Jack, Simon, and Ralph return after exploring the island in the late afternoon. Ralph blows the conch to gather all the boys in an assembly area and tells them about exploration of the island. Jack interrupts Ralphs immediately to state the importance of a group for hunting. Ralph makes the rule that only one person will speak at a time in the assembly who holds the conch and only the leader, Ralph, can interrupt the one who is talking holding the conch. Thus, the boys establish some other rules and orders.
Piggy takes the conch and talks to the boys. Ralph talks about the adventure inherent in their situation. The littlest boy forward his fear that he saw the “beastie” in the woods the night before. The older boys assure the littluns that there is no such beastie to calm down his fear. Ralph assures the boys that soon they will be rescued. He also mentions that they must set a fire signal to attract passing planes and ships. This task was assigned to Jack, with a group of boys, to set fire on the top of the island. Ralph tries to force his orders, but all the boys rush after Jack, when no one stops, he follows too. Piggy also follows Ralph and he is angry at the impulsive behavior of the boys.
The boys set fire using Piggy’s eyeglasses. Jack and his hunter party take the responsibility to keep the fire alive. Jack, alone, goes to hunt a pig. He practiced some tracking techniques. He was frustrated by last day’s chance when a piglet escaped and another day has ended again without a hunt, he returns to the boys where Ralph and Simon are working on building shelters.
All the boys have agreed to help build shelters but only Simon and Ralph are on work. Other boys even Jack and his hunters are bathing, playing, or hunting even though hunters have failed to produce meat. Ralph puts emphasis on building shelters, while Jack insists that the boys need meat and tries to explicate his compulsion to hunt. This difference leads to uncertainty and makes the boys uncomfortable. The relationship that had sprung up on the first day’s exploring adventure is fading now.
Then there is a general depiction of the island and the changes happening in the island throughout the day. Littluns play with sandcastles and interact with each other. Roger and Maurice, members of Jack’s party, appear from the jungle and deliberately demolish the sandcastles on their way to the beach made by littluns. Jack calls all the hunters to tell them a new hunting strategy. They color their faces with clay and charcoal to camouflage. All the hunters leave to hunt, Jack is commanding them. Sam and Eric, two brothers, who were on fire duty at that time, also join a hunting party leaving no one to watch at fire.
Meanwhile, Ralph looks at a ship passing at a distance and is hopeful that the ship’s crew will see a fire signal and come to rescue all the boys. But, unluckily the fire was off and Ralph was ignorant that the fire was off at that time and there was no smoke signal. Simon informs him that there is no fire. Simon, Ralph and Piggy hurriedly move to the top. When all three boys had reached at top, the ship had gone at that time.
In the meantime, the hunting party is marching up to the fire site triumphantly with the carcass of a pig. There is an exchange of arguments on dormant fire between Jack and Ralph. Jack apologizes and says he was on his duty to feed meat to the children but Ralph remains angry. The matter was resolved as the boys ate roast meat of pig for the first time at the island. All the hunters start dancing. Ralph announces a gathering immediately on the beach platform.
Ralph reminds everyone of their duties to maintain supply of fresh water, building shelters for residence, observe sanitation measures, and to keep the fire signal. He then points out impending fear that he knows is starting soon to harm isolated boys. Jack takes the conch and talks about hunting. A littluns comes forward to describe a large creature he saw in the jungle the night before, Simon reveals that it was he, going to his place in the jungle, then Piggy takes the conch and he adds his opinion regarding experience of fear, thereby invalidating it.
Simon tries to reveal that something inherent in boys themselves could be the beast they fear. Simon’s explanation leads to talk of ghosts, so Ralph asks for votes to know who fears ghosts. There is arguing between Jack and Ralph. In mutiny, Jack violently disputes Ralph’s authority and leads the hunters and other boys practicing a tribal dance holding sticks in hands looking like savages. Simon and Piggy insist on Ralph to call everybody back but he resists, his confidence is shaken.
After dancing at the platform, all the boys go to sleep. There is an aerial war, taking place at night. During the war, a pilot of a crashed aircraft falls down on the island on his opened parachute. Due to the open parachute, wind drags the body to the top of the mountain. Sam and Eric, putting woods on fire on the mountain, suddenly catch a sight of the body’s movement and hear the sound of parachute inflating. They run to Ralph and other boys in fear and tell them with an exaggeration by their fear.
Early in the morning, Ralph calls an assembly, where they decide to examine the unexplored place on the island: the castle-like rock that is at one end of the island. Piggy remains with the littluns behind on the beach, Ralph and all other boys go to the castle. Ralph leads, followed a few moments later by Jack. After making sure that there is no beast, the other boys also join Ralph and Jack and want to play there for a while. On the way to the mountain, Jack encountered a pig hunt but the pig escaped slightly wounded. Ralph gets his first taste of hunting, striking a pig in the snout with his spear. After the pig runs away, the hunter group begins a mock hunt. One is acting like a pig and others are beating him that gets out of control and hurts the boy.
There is darkness when they reach the beach. Ralph, Jack, and Roger volunteer for an expedition to search for the beast. Once they reach the burnt patch, Ralph, annoyed by Jack’s mocking, challenges Jack to climb on by himself; Jack returns from the mountain frightened. All three boys run back in fear in the dark. Jack calls Ralph coward and calls for another election for the leader. Ralph replies that even Jack would hide if the beast attacked him. In retaliation, Jack attempts mutiny and convinces the other boys to join his group. The boys refuse to vote against Ralph. Jack announces himself a leader of the tribe. Jacks run away into the forest for hunting.
Piggy is glad that Jack is gone and suggests that they build a signal fire on the beach near their camp so that they won’t have to climb up the mountain to keep the fire alive. The boy starts gathering woods to let the fire. Meanwhile, most of the Biguns escape to join Jack’s group. Simon also disappears but does not join Jack’s group. He goes to his hidden place in the forest. Piggy starts the fire with his glasses.
Meanwhile Jack encounters another hunt and successfully slaughters a mother pig and then places her head on a stick as “an offering to the beast”, unintentionally and ironically, at the same spot where Simon used to sit concealing himself in isolation. Simon comes there and hallucinates the dead pig speaks to him, until he loses consciousness. Then he makes his way to the mountain. He finds the dead body of the pilot, he inspects and realizes that he is a pilot who fell down and became dead. He runs down to inform other boys regarding the dead body whom other boys were considering beast. After successful hunt, Jack tells his hunters to steal some burning woods from the beach fire to get fire for a pig roast and also invites Ralph’s group to the roast just to join them to his group.
Ralph realizes that even the Biguns loyal to Ralph have left him and gone to Jack’s group to eat roast pig. When no one is left on the beach, Ralph and Piggy go as well because of hunger. Jack allows them to roast pig meat. When everyone has finished eating, Jack calls for all the boys to indicate whether they would like to join him or will remain with Ralph’s. Many of the boys join his group leaving Ralph’s.
After eating meat all the boys start dancing. Ralph and Piggy are standing aside watching them. Meanwhile, Simon crawls out of the forest and into the center of the dance circle. However in doing so, he was mistaken as a beast by the dancing boys who were in a frenzy and they killed Simon. The rain increases and the boys back off, leaving Simon’s dead body on the beach. A huge tide carries his body away into the sea.
Ralph’s group dwindles in numbers. He finds that only Piggy, Sam and Eric, and some littluns are with him. Brooding over the night memories, he tells Piggy that the dancing boys killed Simon. Jack starts acting ever more like a cruel leader to his own group members. Once he tied one of the boys and beat for angering him. Jack plans an attack on Ralph’s camp to get woods for fire. But at Ralph’s camp, the boys decide to let the fire off for the night rather than collecting wood from the forest at night. When Jack and his hunters could not find burning woods from Ralph’s camp, they attack and steal Piggy’s glasses to let the fire.
Piggy urges Ralph to calls an assembly, wherein they decide the four remaining Biguns will ask Jack’s group for Piggy’s glasses back. Sam and Eric express fear of approaching the hunter boys who have become savages. Jack’s group is aggressive to Ralph’s small group. Roger, a member of hunters group, throws stones at the twins to scare them. Jack appears from the forest and tells Ralph to go back. Ralph calls Jack a thief for stealing woods and Piggy’s glasses.
The savage hunters laugh at Ralph’s speech on the importance of a fire signal. Jack’s boys grab Sam and Eric and tie them up. Jack prompts a fistfight with Ralph. Piggy interrupts and, holding the conch, attempts a speech as well. When Piggy rebukes the hunters for becoming savages, Roger, a member of Jack’s, releases a huge stone on Piggy. Piggy dies under the stone and a large wave quickly carries off his body.
Jack shouts at Ralph and throws his spear at him. Ralph was wounded but the spear bounced off, and Ralph ran away to save his life. Remaining members of Ralph’s group were forced to join Jack’s group. Sam and Eric were also forced to join the tribe.
Ralph finds a place to sleep for the night. The next morning, Jack’s party tries to find him. Once Ralph is on the run, Jack’s group follows him. They set on fire all the forest to trap Ralph. Ralph tries to hide himself in impenetrable thicket but is discovered there as well. The fire has spread across the forest so that he has to escape the Jack’s hunters and the fire. He runs towards the beach and falls at the feet of a newly arrived British naval officer, whose ship was attracted by the huge fire in the forest. The officer assures them all that ship will take them off the island. Ralph breaks into sobs and weeps loudly on the end of innocence and loss of his friend Simon and Piggy.