Lord of the Flies by William Golding This novel is about a transition from an exciting adventure of some children, to what eventually becomes full-scale war, ending with the naval officer who rescued them. Though I still wonder if they were really saved, because there was a war that was going on outside of the island.
The book begins by introducing two of the characters Ralph and Piggy. They meet each other in the jungle among the creepers. They explore the lagoon together. They find a pool of water that has been warmed by the sun. They swim in it. Then Ralph finds a conch (a shell shaped in a way that when blown it will sound) and blows it, to bring the rest of the boys, who were on the airplane and survived the crash. Last to arrive are the choir, who are dressed in black robes and hats. Their leader is a redhead boy named Jack. On closer examination it is found that there is a wide range 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 by their nickname 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 an 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, 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 laughed at from the other boys, and they go to the top of the mountain to light their fire for ships. In the chaos as people gather wood and light the fire, one of the “littluns” got left in the woods and was never seen again. As the fire crackles and burns, the “littluns” think they see snakes, which shows 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 it, 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 very angry by this. They group has a confrontation on top of the mountain. In the arguing between Jack and Ralph, Piggy gets one of the lenses in his glasses broken. Then they all eat the pig.
An emergency meeting is called by Ralph, who believes that they must confront the growing fears of the boys of a monster and get rid of them forever. Another one of the “littluns” comes forward and talks about how he saw a monster in the forest. Simon to help erase their fears tells them that it was he 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 he cannot really get his point across. Jack says that if there is a beast his hunters will hunt it down, but the boys have little faith in this idea. Then Sam and Eric, the twins go to the mountain and believe they saw the beast, describing him in different ways though they show their fear. Increasingly the boys believe in the beast although Simon still refuses to believe that such a thing could exist. Ralph goes hunting with the others and decides that it is a bit of fun after all. But unfortunately it gets dark before they arrive at the mountain. Jack, Ralph, and Roger decide to climb the mountain, and ascend the cliff. When they reach the top of the mountain, they think that they see the beast, and run away. An arguement breaks out between Ralph and Jack over the importance of the hunting compared to the fire, and Jack attempts to be elected as chief, but fails. He shows childish behavior and says “I don’t want to play with you anymore” and leaves, attempting to form his own “tribe.” Simon goes to his place in the forest and has a strange encounter with the devil, who tells him all about how nobody can kill him because he lives within them. Jack’s tribe grows in numbers and Jack proclaims that there is to be a sacrifice to the beast.
Simon goes to the top of the mountain and finds toat the beast that Sam and Eric saw was really the dead mans parachute flapping in the wind. He runs down and tells the others, who are involved in the sacrifice at the time, carrying out a bizarre tribal dance. When the crowd sees him, with hysteria they think he is the beast and club him to death. Piggy especially is ashamed because he was lured by the meat offered by Jack to join the ceremony and was involved in the clubbing. Now in reduced in numbers, Ralph’s tribe is made up of Ralph, Piggy, Sam, and Eric. Jack’s tribe’s fire goes out when it rains and he steals Piggy’s glasses in the night. Ralph thought that he had come for the conch, but this symbolizes the movement of power from the conch, to the glasses (fire). Ralph holds another meeting in which he decides to confront Jack and ask for Piggy’s glasses back. When they arrive at Jack’s camp, Piggy accuses Jack of being a thief and Sam and Eric are kidnapped. Ralph and Jack begin to fight bitterly and while they are arguing a boulder knocks Piggy from his spot, off a 40 foot cliff. The book says as Piggy came down “The hangman’s horror clung around him”. After this Sam and Eric are forced to join Jack’s tribe. Ralph is hunted down like a dog by the tribe, and hides under a bush. But rather than go out and find him Jack decides to flush him out with fire, and sets the entire island on fire. Ralph is about to be killed when a naval officer suddenly appears. I think that this is a bad ending for the book as it doesn’t seem to quite fit into the rest of it. Ironically the smoke from the fire of the island burning saved them. Ralph and the others return to the ship and Ralph tells the officer that two people were killed, though I don’t think he quite believes him.
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