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Supplemental Guide to Lord of the Flies/Printable version

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Supplemental Guide to Lord of the Flies

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Ralph[edit | edit source]

Ralph is among the oldest of the boys, at twelve and a few months, and has an air of strength about him. He acts as the initial leader figure and organizes the boys into some semblance of society. He wants the good for the tribe, but is often confused, because unlike Jack or Roger, he has a sense of morality from society. He is often considered part of a triad with Piggy and Simon. Ralph is the athletic, charismatic protagonist of Lord of the Flies. Elected the leader of the boys at the beginning of the novel, Ralph is the primary representative of order, civilization, democracy, and productive leadership in the novel. While most of the other boys initially are concerned with playing, having fun, and avoiding work, Ralph sets about building huts and thinking of ways to maximize the chances of all the boys. Ralph remains determined not to let this savagery overwhelm him, and only briefly does he consider joining Jack’s tribe in order to save himself. When Ralph hunts a boar for the first time, however, he experiences the exhilaration and thrill of bloodlust and violence. When he attends Jack’s feast, he is swept away by the frenzy, dances on the edge of the group, and participates in the killing of Simon. This firsthand knowledge of the evil that exists within him, as within all human beings, is tragic for Ralph, and it plunges him into listless despair for a time. But this knowledge also enables him to cast down the Lord of the Flies at the end of the novel. Ralph’s story ends semi-tragically: although he is rescued and returned to civilization, when he sees the naval officer, he weeps with the burden of his new knowledge about the human capacity for evil.

Jack Merridew[edit | edit source]

Jack was the leader of the choir at the boys' old school and competes with Ralph for the position of "alpha male" on the island. Jack was described as dark, a creature, and controlling, rather than leading, the choir. This is evident from in chapter 1 when he is first introduced. He is the leader of the hunters and fights Ralph. Eventually, more and more of the boys defect from Ralph's ordered society to Jack's tribal one and turn against Ralph, Piggy and Simon. In short, Jack is the exact opposite of Ralph. From the beginning of the novel, Jack desires power above all other things, and he carries a large knife as a symbol of this. He is furious when he loses the election to Ralph and continually pushes the boundaries of his subordinate role in the group and continually bullies Piggy (first by calling him names then later punching him). Early on, Jack retains the sense of moral propriety and behavior that society instilled in him—in fact, in school, he was the leader of the choirboys. The first time he encounters a pig, he is unable to kill it. But Jack soon becomes obsessed with hunting and devotes himself to the task, painting his face like a barbarian and giving himself over to bloodlust. The more savage Jack becomes, the more he is able to control the rest of the group. Indeed, apart from Ralph, Simon, and Piggy, the group largely follows Jack in casting off moral restraint and embracing violence and savagery. Jack's love of authority and violence are intimately connected, as both enable him to feel powerful and exalted. By the end of the novel, Jack has learned to use the boys' fear of the beast to control their behavior—a reminder of how religion and superstition can be manipulated as instruments of power. The extent to which he controls his tribe can be seen when he beats one of his tribe member and the other boys do not object. Jack is used by Golding to represent fascism.

Piggy[edit | edit source]

Piggy is a fat, shy twelve-year-old boy who has asthma; he is the only one who knows how to correctly pronounce asthma. The other boys on the island pronounce it as "ass-mar". Piggy wears "specs". Piggy is not his real name (that is never revealed) but instead a nickname given to him by his schoolmates to tease him. In the book, he represents maturity, civilization, science, intellect, clear-sightedness, and an adult figure. Piggy has no social skill thanks to his aunt (he lives with her) that didn't let him play outside because of his asthma. Most of the boys have shaggy, long hair by the end of the novel. Piggy is the only character whose hair has not grown. It is also important to look at Piggy's dialect; his English is less formal than the other boys. He uses double negatives to tell the reader the "truth" about things, for example, Piggy says, "there ain't no fear" and "there ain't no beast" implying that there is fear and the beast does exist. He is whiny, but the smartest of the boys. He is often considered part of a triad with Ralph and Simon. He is first described as a voice, and he remains the voice of reason throughout the book. Piggy's specs also symbolize knowledge and scientific hope, once stolen by Jack they become part of the struggle for power and control of the fire. Piggy is a tragic figure, the same age as Ralph and by all accounts considerably smarter yet his physical deficiencies separate him from the others. He is vilified, especially by Jack, for not helping, whining and generally being unhelpful but he is the intelligence behind the democracy that is set up. His death signals the final end of the democracy and his 'empty-head' as it splits on the rocks the end of rational thought. Piggy is the most intellectual of the boys.

Simon[edit | edit source]

Simon is a calm, passive boy who claims no leadership or intelligence, but shows a wisdom beyond his years as he is the only character to realize that the beast is imaginary. He may be an epileptic. In addition, it is important to note that in earlier human history, people with epilepsy were seen as having greater religious powers or some type of connection to a higher or greater power. He is the Jesus-like figure in the story, and his meeting with the Lord of the Flies and his subsequent death could be considered equal to certain events in the Bible (Jesus' temptation by Satan and subsequent crucifixion). Simon helps the littluns gather fruit in the forest, just as Christ cared for the children. He is often considered part of a triad with Ralph and Piggy. As is a repeated theme in the book, Simon, an important character, has an important message which no one listens to. He then dies and thus nobody hears his crucial message. This contradicts the parallel to Jesus a bit since Jesus death changed the world while Simon's did not (since his message was not heard). He is sometimes said to be the only boy in the novel with natural good in him, the others having only have goodness imprinted on to them by society. Simon also holds the key to their salvation, the knowledge, that they hear from him, that the beast is no more than a dead man. He holds the key to removing Jack from any position of power and is murdered for it (though it can be disputed that the murder was more of a savage instinct since Ralph participated in it as well). He is further linked with religious or spiritual symbols in the novel when, after he dies, his body floats out to sea and is ringed by phosphorescent sea creatures which form a sort of "halo" around his head and body. He is martyred for the cause of truth. He is also continually linked with images of light, nature and beauty throughout the novel.

Roger[edit | edit source]

Roger is the individual we never know a lot about - Golding keeps his character hidden. He is mysterious like Jack, and is mindless to the consequences of his actions. He follows the group and acts on their behalf. He becomes Jack's right hand man. While Jack is more of a Hitler Figure, Roger seems to become more like a Himmler figure, in charge of creating fear, without being conscious of the immorality of his actions. He is overcome by the evils of the island, or himself. He represents clearly the example of humans and their destruction of each other. He also represents sadism, bloodlust and cruelty to the extreme. Roger is the only boy on the island who is described as "dark" while the other boys become "dark" as they succumb to their savage nature. He is the only character to knowingly kill someone on his own i.e. Piggy, Roger used smaller rocks at first to aim at some little'uns and then let the big boulder go which sadly ended Piggy.

Sam and Eric[edit | edit source]

Sam and Eric (or Samneric) are identical twins, while on the island, they lose their identity. They are the most obvious example of loss of innocence. They represent society. They are easily manipulated, as seen with Jack. They were actually very supportive of Ralph, but were forced to join Jack later after Roger tortured them. When they are guarding Castle Rock, Ralph talks to them and asks them to join him, saying that the three of them would stand a chance. Samneric do not agree saying that Ralph didn't know Roger. "He is a terror". This is the point in the novel where Ralph realizes that he is completely alone.

The Hunters[edit | edit source]

The hunters are the group of boys under the direction of Jack on the island. They were part of the choir boys at the private school. They eventually become the tribe on the island, suffering much under Jack's leadership. They also show the degeneration of the island civilization, turning from the 'choir' to the 'hunters' and finally to the 'savages'. They may be seen to represent the military in time of war and are certainly violent in nature and unreasonable in outlook. The most notable hunters are Roger and Maurice. Maurice isn't as loyal to Jack as Roger but he is more friendly and good with the littluns. These are the people that Ralph sees as "shadows" walking down the beach. this foreshadows them becoming savages at the end of the novel.

The Littluns[edit | edit source]

The littluns are the smaller boys on the island that only care for having fun and nothing more. They represent the plebeians and masses who are swayed from one leader to another, but are required by a leader to rule over. It could be argued that Golding uses them to demonstrate the masses' apathy of politics, as the littluns are more interested in falling off a log at meetings than in contributing their ideas. They also don't really have a very constructive role in the island society. They are the ones that bring the Beastie to life after talking about it so much. They live their lives in the day eating fruit, and at night, having nightmares about how the Beastie is going to eat them. Golding also uses the littluns to demonstrate how the boys are attracted to power; Henry and Johnny watched "with china-blue eyes" as Maurice and Roger make Percival cry, then "Johnny was left in triumphant possession of the castles, He sat there, crooning to himself and throwing sand at an imaginary Percival." Henry "became absorbed beyond mere happiness as he felt himself exercising control over living things. He talked to [the transparencies], urging them, ordering them....they were trapped and gave him the illusion of mastery"


The Lord of the Flies contains many examples of symbolism which Golding has incorporated to show a deeper level to the main, mostly straightforward, storyline that reveals his thoughts on the nature of humanity and evil. Below are some of the main symbols used in the book, but there are plenty more for you to discover yourself. Among such symbols may be included such small or natural seeming events like the coral reef, (Submarine warfare, surrounding of Britain by German U-boats?) or the "great fire", which may represent the first world war, ("We shall never commit to this savagery again"). Blood is another symbol Golding uses extensively, although what he uses it for is open to interpretation. The different styles of leadership shown by Jack and Ralph symbolize democracy and dictatorship, much like as depicted in George Orwell's Animal Farm where he used pigs to symbolize the USSR's communist leaders. There are also examples of symbolism in the title, which is a major factor in the storyline of the book.

The Beast[edit | edit source]

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. As the boys grow more savage, their belief in the beast grows stronger. By the end of the novel, the boys are leaving it sacrifices and treating it as a totemic god. The boys’ behavior is what brings the beast into existence, so the more savagely the boy's actions, the more real the beast seems to become. The boys "become" the beast when they kill Simon. Golding describes the savages' behavior as animal-like; the savages dropped their spears (man's tool) and "screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws." This description is very similar to Sam and Eric's description of the beast on the mountain. The Beast is a threat, be it imagined or real, to the society that has been formed on the island and is treated as such by all the characters except Simon. This threat is at first a unifier of the boys and then divides them, all seeking safety in the tribe and its military power. So the beast can be seen as a tool whereby Jack maintains his power, a representation of all evils and a way of instilling fear and respect in the populace. In the context of the book, if looked at historically, the Beast is the threat from Soviet Russia used by governments to manipulate their people and increase military spending or similarly any propaganda used by any government to undermine democracy. Also, Simon realizes there is no beast and says “Maybe it’s only us” this shows how Simon realizes the “darkness of man's heart” affects us all.

In a more analytical sense, the beast is a symbolic representation of the evil Human nature within mankind when outside the constructs and laws of society.

The Conch[edit | edit source]

A conch.
A conch.

Piggy and Ralph first find the conch in Chapter 1. It represents civilization and democracy. Ralph first blows the conch to call all the other boys on the island together to form a civilization. All the boys then vote him as the leader because he called them together and they all see Jack as an unattractive threat. The boys then use the conch as a right to speak. "Ralph smiled and held up the conch for silence." Throughout the novel, Piggy holds on to the conch and encourages Ralph and others to use it at times when Piggy feels that civilization is being lost. In Chapter 11, Ralph, Piggy and Sam 'n Eric arrive at Castle Rock to claim Piggy's glasses. Ralph again tries the conch one more time to bring the "savages" back to form a civilization. However this fails, and instead, Ralph argues with Jack. Piggy tries one more time to use the conch as a right to speak. Finally, at the height of this argument, Roger levers a boulder off the rock which kills Piggy and smashes the conch. "The conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist". Therefore, all hope of civilization is lost. 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. The shell effectively governs the boys’ meetings, for the boy who holds the shell holds the right to speak. In this regard, the shell is more than a symbol—it is an actual vessel of political legitimacy and democratic power. As the island civilization erodes and the boys descend into savagery, the conch shell loses its power and influence among them, which is mirrored by its physical condition. As the story progresses the conch begins to lose its color as its influence (and hence civilization in general) begins to wane, all the way until it becomes colorless before it is finally destroyed. Ralph clutches the shell desperately when he talks about his role in murdering Simon. In chapter 10, Jack chooses to steal Piggy's glasses (fire) instead of the conch showing how little he values it. Later, the other boys ignore Ralph and throw stones at him when he attempts to blow the conch in Jack’s camp. The boulder that Roger rolls onto Piggy also crushes the conch shell, signifying the demise of the civilized instinct among almost all the boys on the island.

Piggy's Specs[edit | edit source]

Piggy's glasses (specs) are a symbol of technology and innovation. In a more concrete sense, Piggy's glasses function as a tool, as the specs are used by the boys to light a fire. It should be noted here that sources of light are traditionally representative of truth, wisdom, or reason, especially in the context of a civilization. As the specs are damaged and eventually stolen, the technological status of the boys on the island becomes less and less advanced, such as when they cease work on the huts and fire to instead hunt and maim, just for the sake of it. They also symbolize vision, which is why Golding made Piggy short-sighted with glasses because they give him a vision. When the lenses of the glasses are smashed, it symbolizes the vision of being rescued fading away.

The Signal Fire[edit | edit source]

The fire on top of the mountain is used by the boys to attract attention which will hopefully lead to rescue from passing ships. It acts as a gauge on how interested the boys are in returning to civilization. Ironically, in the end, the signal fire is not what attracts their rescue but the ongoing forest fire that started in a bloodthirsty hunt for Ralph. Piggy's glasses are the only way which the fire can be lit, a possible metaphor for science offering the only hope to the struggling countries in the post-war era. There is also an aspect of fire as the cleanser, that from the ashes shall come something more stable; a rebirth. From the first fire arises death, accidental, and from the second arises salvation in the form of the arriving Royal Navy. The fire also symbolizes the meaning of hope to be rescued. This hope is what keeps the boys going at the start of the book, but when they have an assembly about the hunters not keeping the fire going in chapter 9, it marks the point at which the hope of being rescued starts to fade away.

Hair & Eyes[edit | edit source]

As the boys' hair grows, some allow it to fall in their eyes, usually when they are engaged in the savage behavior. Ralph fights an ongoing battle with his hair falling into his eyes; he is continually pushing it out of his eyes as he struggles to stay civilized. Piggy's hair never seems to grow, yet another characteristic that separates him from the other boys. Golding seems to use hair in the eyes to signify the boys' descent into savage behavior. Ralph struggles to stay civilized like Piggy because of the other boys' actions. Ralph also at the start is called “the boy with the fair hair” he then becomes “a shock of hair” this shows the savagery which is affecting Ralph.

The Sound of the Shell

Chapter 1: The Sound of the Shell

A group of English schoolboys are left onto a plane during a crisis to escape from attacks of Britain. However, the plane is taken down by an unknown evil (in Chapter 10, a conversation with Ralph reveals the enemies are "Reds") aircraft and the boys find themselves stranded on a deserted island with the pilot killed in the crash. Two central characters, Piggy and Ralph are introduced. They walk down to the beach, Piggy finds a shell: a conch. He gives it to Ralph, who blows in it and they call an assembly of all of the children on the island.

At the assembly, a choir group led by a boy named Jack comes along the beach. Ralph suggests they pick a leader, and he is chosen by a group vote. Jack is not happy about this, although Ralph assures him that he will still be in charge of the choir, who become the hunters. Even at this point, it is hinted that the children are governed more by their emotions since as the book itself states "what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack". After Ralph is elected, he explores the island with Jack and a boy named Simon. They come across a pig entrapped in the bushes. Jack draws his knife but hesitates to kill the pig, aware of the enormity of his actions. This allows the pig to escape. Jack, ashamed of this, resolves never again to hesitate to kill.

Fire on the Mountain

Chapter 2: Fire on the Mountain

Ralph, Jack and Piggy hastily return from their tour of the island. Now, they call another meeting. A small boy with a visible birthmark says he has seen a snake (that will later become the beast). Ralph says that they need to make a fire in order to be rescued - the children eagerly take up this challenge and rush to the top of the mountain, and move the wood in order to build it. Piggy finds this very childish. When they have built it, there is no way to light it. Jack takes Piggy's glasses against his will. He lights the fire using the glasses as a magnifying glass. The fire gets so big and out of control that it sets the forest ablaze on one side of the mountain. They soon realize one of the "littluns", the boy with the birthmark, has probably been killed by the huge fire. The boys go to sleep by the now contained fire and ignore the littlun's presumed death.

Huts on the Beach

Chapter 3: Huts on the Beach

Jack unsuccessfully hunts pigs, continuing even though the other hunters have given up. He eventually gives up and comes upon Ralph and Simon building a shelter near the lagoon. Ralph complains that the boys are not working hard to build the shelters. The little ones are hopeless, spending most of their time bathing or eating. Jack says that Ralph is chief, so he should just order them to do so. Ralph admits that they could call a meeting, vow to build something, whether a hut or a submarine, start building it for five minutes then quit. Ralph tells Jack that most of his hunters spent the afternoon swimming. A madness comes to Jack's eyes as he admits that he might kill something soon. Ralph insists that they need shelters more than anything. Ralph notices that the other boys are frightened. Jack says that when he is hunting he often feels as if he is being hunted, but admits that this is irrational. Only Simon has been helping Ralph, but he leaves, presumably to have a bath. Jack and Ralph go to the bathing pool, but do not find Simon there. Simon had followed Jack and Ralph, then turned into the forest with a sense of purpose. He is a small, skinny boy with a coarse mop of black hair. He walks through the acres of fruit trees and finds fruit that the littlest boys cannot reach. He gives the boys fruit then goes along the path into the jungle. He finds an open space and looks to see whether he is alone. This open space contains great aromatic bushes, a bowl of heat and light! He can now think and meditate on his own because he is alone.

Painted Faces and Long Hair

Chapter 4: Painted Faces and Long Hair

Roger has become a sadist. Three of the littluns are playing with sand castles when Roger and Maurice purposefully destroy them. Maurice kicks sand in Percival's eye and makes him cry. Afterwards, when Henry (one of the littluns) is alone, Roger throws stones at him, but purposely misses. His thin veneer of civility prevents him from harming—yet. Jack then invites Roger to join him to hunt and Jack first paints his face to camouflage himself (this will become a distinctive mark of the savages). Notably among the hunters are Sam and Eric who were supposed to man the fire.

The scene changes and Ralph shouts as he sees a ship but no smoke from the signal fire they had supposed to have lit. When Jack and his hunters return, he angrily confronts them because they were responsible for keeping the fire lit. Instead, they went hunting instead and missed a chance of rescue. Piggy highlights this point but Jack punches him instead, breaking one side of his glasses in the process. Ralph intervenes to prevent further violence and it is from this point that Ralph and Jack's initial bond due to their sense of camaraderie is clearly broken. As the sun sets, they light a fire and the pig is roasted to try to ease the tension. Everyone is angry but they still eat the pork, dance and enjoy their meal, except Ralph. Ralph is angry at what he feels is the chaotic state the island society has degenerated too. Ralph decides to call an assembly to sort out matters. This whole scene is important as it is the first time Ralph's command has been disobeyed and the first time violence has been used (Jack hitting Piggy).

Beast from Water

Chapter 5: Beast from Water

Ralph goes to the beach because he needs a place to think and is overcome with astonishment. He understands the weariness of life, where everything requires improvisation. He calls a meeting near the bathing pool, realizing that he must think and must make a decision but that he lacks Piggy's ability to think. He begins the assembly seriously, telling them that they are there not for making jokes or for cleverness. He reminds them that everyone built the first shelter, which is the sturdiest, while the third one, built only by Simon and Ralph, is unstable. He admonishes them for not using the appropriate areas for the lavatory, and reminds them that the fire is the most important thing on the island, for it is their means of escape. He claims that they ought to die before they let the fire out. He directs this at the hunters, in particular. He makes the rule that the only place where they will have a fire is on the mountain. Ralph then speaks on their fear. He admits that he is frightened himself, but their fear is unfounded. Jack stands up, takes the conch, and yells at the littluns for screaming like babies and not hunting or building or helping. Jack tells them that there is no beast on the island. Piggy does agree with Jack on that point, telling the kids that there is no beast and there is no real fear, unless they get frightened of people. Percival speaks next, and as he gives his name he recites his address and telephone number; this reminder of home causes him to break out into tears. All of the littluns join him. Percival claims that the beast comes out of the sea. Simon puts forward the suggestion that the beast is really inside them and they themselves are the beast. However, as he does not express himself well and the other boys are not mature enough to understand him, he is shouted down. The boys speak about ghosts. Piggy says he does not believe in ghosts, but Jack attempts to start a fight again. Ralph stops the fight, and asks the boys how many of them believe in ghosts. Piggy yells at the boys, asking whether they are humans or animals or savages. Jack threatens him again, and Ralph intercedes once more, complaining that they are breaking the rules. When Jack asks "who cares?" Ralph says that the rules are the only thing that they have. Jack instead defies Ralph saying "Bollocks to the rules" that they will hunt the beast down. The assembly breaks up as Jack leads them on a hunt. This is significant as it is the first instance that Ralph has lost control of Jack. Only Ralph, Piggy and Simon remain. Ralph says that if he blows the conch to summon them back and they refuse, then they will become like animals and will never be rescued. He does ask Piggy whether there are ghosts or beasts, but Piggy reassures him. Piggy warns him that if Ralph steps down as chief Jack will do nothing but hunt, and they will never be rescued. The three reminisce on the majesty of adult life.

Beast from Air

Chapter 6: Beast from Air

Ralph and Simon pick up Percival and carry him to a shelter. That night, over the horizon, there is an aerial battle though none of the boys see it since they are asleep. A dead pilot drops from a parachute, sweeping across the reef toward the mountain where his parachute gets tangled on. Early the next morning, the twins Sam and Eric, the two boys on duty at the fire, awake and add kindling to the fire. Just then they spot the dead parachutist and mistake him for the beast. They scramble down the mountain and wake Ralph. While reporting their encounter with the "beast", they grossly exaggerate (in their panic) with Eric tellings the boys that the beast has teeth and claws and even followed them. Jack calls for a hunt, but Piggy says that they should stay there, for the beast may not come near them. When Piggy says that he has the right to speak because of the conch, Jack says that they don't need the conch anymore. Ralph becomes exasperated at Jack, accusing him of not wanting to be rescued, and the assembly takes Ralph's side. Ralph decides that he will go with the hunters to search for the beast, which may be around a small island connected to the main island by a small bridge (the small island is later called Castle Rock). Simon, wanting to show that he is accepted, travels with Ralph, who wishes only for solitude. Jack gets the hunters lost on the way around the mountain. They continue along a narrow wall of rocks that forms a bridge between parts of the island, reaching the open sea. As some of the boys spend time rolling rocks around the bridge, Ralph decides that it would be better to climb the mountain and rekindle the fire, but Jack wishes to stay where they can build a fort. This fort that they build is later called Castle Rock.

Shadows and Tall Trees

Chapter 7: Shadows and Tall Trees

Ralph notices how long his hair is and how dirty and unclean he has become. He had followed the hunters across the island. On this other side of the island, the view is utterly different. Simon reassures him that he will leave the island eventually. Ralph is somewhat doubtful, but Simon says that it is simply his opinion. Roger calls for Ralph, telling him that they need to continue hunting. A boar appears; Ralph stabs it with a spear, but the boar escapes. Jack is wounded on his left forearm, so Simon tells him he should suck the wound. The hunters go into a frenzy and Jack says that someone should dress up as a pig and pretend to knock him over. Robert says that Jack wants a real pig so that he can actually kill, but Jack says that he could just use a littlun. The boys start climbing up the mountain once more, but Ralph realizes that they cannot leave the littluns alone with Piggy all night. Jack mocks Ralph for his concern for Piggy. Simon says that he can go back himself. Ralph tells Jack that there isn't enough light to go hunting for pigs. Out of the new understanding that Piggy has given him, Ralph asks Jack why he hates him. Jack has no answer. The boys are tired and afraid, but Jack vows that he will go up the mountain to look for the beast. Jack mocks Ralph for not wanting to go up the mountain, claiming that he is afraid. Jack claims he saw something bulge on the mountain. Since Jack seems for the first time somewhat afraid, Ralph says that they will look for it then. The boys see a rock-like hump and something like a great ape sitting asleep with its head between its knees. At its sight, the boys run off.

Gift for the Darkness

Chapter 8: Gift for the Darkness

At the beginning of chapter 8, when Ralph tells Piggy what they saw, he is quite skeptical. Ralph tells him that the beast had teeth and big black eyes. Jack says that his hunters can defeat the beast, but Ralph dismisses them as boys with sticks. Jack tells the other boys that the beast is a hunter, and says that Ralph thinks that the boys are cowards. Jack says that Ralph isn't a proper chief, for he is a coward himself. Jack asks the boys who wants Ralph not to be chief. Nobody agrees with Jack, so he runs off in tears. He says that he is not going to be part of Ralph's lot. Jack leaves them. Piggy says that they can do without Jack, but they should stay close to the platform. Simon suggests that they climb the mountain. Piggy says that if they climb the mountain they can start the fire again, but then suggests that they start a fire down by the beach. Piggy organizes the new fire by the beach. Ralph notices that several of the boys are missing. Piggy says that they will do well enough if they behave with common sense, and proposes a feast. They wonder where Simon has gone; he might be climbing the mountain. Simon had left to sit in the open space he had found earlier. Far off along the beach, Jack says that he will be chief of the hunters, and will forget the beast. He says that they might go later to the castle rock, but now will kill a pig and give a feast. They find a group of pigs and kill a large sow. Jack rubs the blood over Maurice's cheeks, while Roger laughs that the fatal blow against the sow was up her ass. They cut off the pig's head and leave it on a stick as a gift for the beast at the mountain-top. This is placed in the clearing at the end of chapter 3, 'defiling' it in a sense. Comparing this with its previously Eden-like beauty, it may show how the island society has degenerated from its idealistic beginnings. Simon sees the head, with flies buzzing around it. Ralph worries that the boys will die if they are not rescued soon. Ralph and Piggy realize that it is Jack who causes things to break up. The forest near them suddenly bursts into uproar. The littluns run off as Jack approaches, naked except for paint and a belt, while hunters take burning branches from the fire. Jack tells them that he and his hunters are living along the beach by a flat rock, where they hunt and feast and have fun. He invites the boys to join his tribe. When Jack leaves, Ralph says that he thought Jack was going to take the conch, which Ralph holds as a symbol of ritual and order. They reiterate that the fire is the most important thing, but Bill suggests that they go to the hunters' feast and tell them that the fire is hard on them. At the top of the mountain remains the pig's head, which Simon has dubbed the "Lord of the Flies." Simon believes that the pig's head speaks to him, calling him a silly little boy. The Lord of the Flies tells Simon that he'd better run off and play with the others, who think that he is crazy. The Lord of the Flies claims that the Beast is not "something you can hunt and kill," but rather, is within each human - the evil, savage, side of human nature. After he foretells his own death, Simon loses consciousness.

A View to a Death

Chapter 9: A View to a Death

Simon awakens and finds the air dark and humid with an approaching storm. His nose is bleeding, and he staggers toward the mountain in a daze. He crawls up the hill and, in the failing light, sees the dead pilot with his flapping parachute. Watching the parachute rise and fall with the wind, Simon realizes that the boys have mistaken this harmless object for the deadly beast that has plunged their entire group into chaos. When Simon sees the corpse of the parachutist, he begins to vomit. When he is finished, he untangles the parachute lines, freeing the parachute from the rocks. Anxious to prove to the group that the beast is not real after all, Simon stumbles toward the distant light of the fire at Jack’s feast to tell the other boys what he has seen. Piggy and Ralph go to the feast with the hopes that they will be able to keep some control over events. At the feast, the boys are laughing and eating the roasted pig. Jack sits like a king on a throne, his face painted like a savage, languidly issuing commands, and waited on by boys acting as his servants. After the large meal, Jack extends an invitation to all of Ralph’s followers to join his tribe. Most of them accept, despite Ralph’s attempts to dissuade them. As it starts to rain, Ralph asks Jack how he plans to weather the storm considering he has not built any shelters. In response, Jack orders his tribe to do its wild hunting dance.

Chanting and dancing in several separate circles along the beach, the boys are caught up in a kind of frenzy. Even Ralph and Piggy, swept away by the excitement, dance on the fringes of the group. The boys again reenact the hunting of the pig and reach a high pitch of frenzied energy as they chant and dance. Suddenly, the boys see a shadowy figure creep out of the forest—it is Simon. In their wild state, however, the boys do not recognize him. Shouting that he is the beast, the boys descend upon Simon and start to tear him apart with their bare hands and teeth. Simon tries desperately to explain what has happened and to remind them of who he is, but he trips and plunges over the rocks onto the beach. The boys fall on him violently and kill him.

The storm explodes over the island. In the whipping rain, the boys run for shelter. Howling wind and waves wash Simon’s mangled corpse into the ocean, where it drifts away, surrounded by glowing fish. At the same time, the wind blows the body of the parachutist off the side of the mountain and onto the beach, sending the boys screaming into the darkness. With the brutal, animalistic murder of Simon, the last vestige of civilized order on the island is stripped away, and brutality and chaos take over. By this point, the boys in Jack’s camp are all but inhuman savages, and Ralph’s few remaining allies suffer dwindling spirits and consider joining Jack. Even Ralph and Piggy themselves get swept up in the ritual dance around Jack’s banquet fire. The storm that batters the island after Simon’s death pounds home the catastrophe of the murder and physically embodies the chaos and anarchy that have overtaken the island. Significantly, the storm also washes away the bodies of Simon and the parachutist, eradicating proof that the beast does not exist.

Jack makes the beast into a godlike figure, a kind of totem he uses to rule and manipulate the members of his tribe. He attributes to the beast both immortality and the power to change form, making it an enemy to be feared and an idol to be worshiped. The importance of the figure of the beast in the novel cannot be overstated, for it gives Jack’s tribe a common enemy (the beast), a common system of belief (their conviction that the mythical beast exists), a reason to obey Jack (protection from the beast), and even a developing system of primitive symbolism and iconography (face paint and the Lord of the Flies).

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. Although Simon’s vision teaches him that the beast exists inside all human beings, his confrontation with the beast is not complete until he comes face to face with the beast that exists within the other boys. Indeed, when the boys kill Simon, they are acting on the savage instinct that the beast represents. Additionally, the manner of Simon’s death continues the parallels between Simon and Jesus: both die sacrificial deaths after learning profound truths about human morality. But Simon’s death differs from Jesus’ in ways that complicate the idea that Simon is simply a Christ figure. Although Jesus and Simon both die sacrificial deaths, Jesus was killed for his beliefs, whereas Simon is killed because of the other boys’ delusions. Jesus died after conveying his message to the world, where as Simon dies before he is able to speak to the boys. In the biblical tradition, Jesus dies to alleviate the burden of mankind’s sin; Simon’s death, on the other hand, simply intensifies the burden of sin pressing down upon the island. According to the Bible, Jesus’ death shows others the way to salvation; Simon’s death exemplifies the power of evil within the human soul.

The Shell and the Glasses

Chapter 10: The Shell and the Glasses

Ralph was afraid of the night before because he feared that Simon was killed on purpose and that Simon was actually dead. Ralph was also afraid that he may have contributed to the murder of Simon. Jack is guarding his fort at castle rock, where Roger is ready to use a lever to drop the boulder on intruders. Jack has a boy named Wilfred tied up and beaten for no reason. His face is always painted. Ralph, Piggy, Samneric and a couple of littluns decide to leave the fire and go to bed. They are woken up by unusual sounds-it's Jack and his group searching for the fire. Jack and his group break into the huts and begin to fight Piggy for his glasses. In the confusion Eric and Ralph break into a fight both thinking that they are fighting one of Jack's group. Whilst they were cutting and knocking teeth loose in the process-Jack and his group get Piggy's glasses, then return to castle rock.

Castle Rock

Chapter 11: Castle Rock

The four boys gather around where the fire had been, bloody and wounded. Ralph calls a meeting for the boys who remain with them, and Piggy asks Ralph to tell them what could be done. Ralph says that all they need is a fire, and if they had kept the fire burning they might have been rescued already. Ralph, Sam and Eric think that they should go to the Castle Rock with spears, but Piggy refuses to take one. Piggy says that he's going to go find Jack himself. Piggy says that he will appeal to a sense of justice. A tear falls down his cheek as he speaks. Ralph says that they should make themselves look presentable, with clothes, to not look like savages. They set off along the beach, limping. When they approach the Castle Rock, Ralph blows the conch. He approaches the other boys tentatively, and Sam and Eric rush near him, leaving Piggy alone. Jack arrives from hunting, and tells Ralph to leave them alone. Ralph finally calls Jack a thief, and Jack responds by trying to stab Ralph with his spear, which Ralph deflects. They fight each other while Piggy reminds Ralph what they came to do. Ralph stops fighting and says that they have to give back Piggy's glasses and reminds them about the fire. He calls them painted fools, Jack arrogantly dismisses him. Then they take the spears from the twins and Jack orders them to be tied up. Ralph screams at Jack, calling him a beast and a swine and a thief. They fight again, but Piggy asks to speak as the other boys jeer. Piggy asks them whether it is better to be a pack of painted savages or to be sensible like Ralph, to have rules and agree or to hunt and kill. Roger leans his weight on the lever, causing a great rock to crash down and knocks Piggy over a cliff and kills him. Quite suitably, the conch is also destroyed with Piggy, as with the death of reason (Piggy) comes the death of order and civilization (the conch). Jack declares himself chief, and hurls his spear at Ralph, which tears the skin and flesh over his ribs, then shears off and falls into the water. Ralph turns and runs, but Sam and Eric remain. Jack orders them to join the tribe, but when they only wish to be let go he pokes them in the ribs with a spear.

Cry of the Hunters

Chapter 12: Cry of the Hunters

Ralph hides, wondering about his wounds. He is not far from the Castle Rock. He thinks he sees Bill in the distance, but realizes that it is not actually Bill anymore, for he is now a savage and not the boy in shorts and shirt he once knew. He concludes that Jack will never leave Ralph alone. Ralph can see the Lord of the Flies, now a skull with the skin and meat eaten away. Ralph can still hear the chant "Kill the beast. Cut his throat. Spill his blood." He crawls to the lookout near Castle Rock and calls to Sam and Eric. Sam gives him a chunk of meat and tells him to leave. They tell him that Roger has sharpened a stick at both ends, but Ralph cannot attach a meaning to this (it probably means they are going to stake him, possibly as a sacrifice, showing their savagery). Ralph crawls away to a slope where he can safely sleep. When he awakes he can hear Jack and Roger outside the thicket where he hides. They are trying to find out where Ralph is hiding. The other boys are rolling rocks down the mountain. Ralph finally runs away, not knowing what he should do. He decides to hide again, then realizes that Jack and his boys were setting the island on fire to smoke Ralph out, a move that would destroy whatever fruit was left on the island. Ralph rushes toward the beach, where he finds a naval officer. His ship saw the smoke and came to the island. The officer thinks that the boys have been only playing games. The other boys begin to appear from the forest. Percival tries to announce his name and address, but cannot say what was once so natural. Ralph says that he is boss, and the officer asks how many there are. He scolds them for not knowing exactly how many there are and for not being organized, as the British are supposed to be. Ralph says that they were like that at first. The officer asks sarcastically whether the boys have sustained casualties, and is surprised when Ralph answers in the affirmative. Ralph then begins to weep for the first time on the island. He weeps for the end of innocence and the darkness of man's heart, and for the fall of Piggy. The officer turns away, embarrassed, while the other boys await the cruiser in the distance.