Lord of the Flies Book Summary -William Golding

Lord Of The Flies Book Summary -William Golding
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Lord of the Flies is an allegorical novel written in 1954 by Nobel Prize winning English novelist and poet William Golding.

Summary of Lord of the Flies

In the midst of a war, a plane evacuating a group of schoolboys from England crashes on a deserted tropical island. Two boys, Ralph and Piggy, find a conch shell on the beach and Piggy realizes it can be used as a horn to summon the other boys. Once assembled, the boys decide to elect a leader and devise a plan for rescue. They choose Ralph as their leader, and Ralph appoints another boy, Jack, to be in charge of the boys who will hunt for food.

Ralph, Jack, and another boy named Simon go on an exploratory expedition of the island. When they return, Ralph insists that they must build a signal fire to attract passing ships. The boys use Piggy’s glasses to focus sunlight and ignite some dead wood. However, they are more interested in playing than in monitoring the fire, and the flames quickly spread through the forest. One of the youngest boys disappears, presumably having burned to death.

Initially, the boys enjoy their life without adults and spend much of their time splashing in the water and playing games. Ralph, however, stresses the importance of maintaining the signal fire and building shelters. The hunters fail to catch a wild pig, but their leader Jack becomes increasingly preoccupied with the act of hunting.

One day, as a ship passes by on the horizon, Ralph and Piggy realize that the signal fire—now the hunters’ responsibility—has burned out. Furious, Ralph confronts Jack, but the hunters have just returned with their first kill, and all the boys are caught up in the excitement of reenacting the chase in a ritual dance. Piggy criticizes Jack, who then hits Piggy, breaking one of the lenses of his glasses. Ralph blows the conch shell to call an assembly in an attempt to restore order.

At the meeting, it becomes clear that some of the boys have started to become afraid. The younger boys, known as “littluns,” have been troubled by nightmares from the beginning, and more of the boys now believe that there is some kind of beast or monster lurking on the island. The older boys try to reassure the others by reasoning that a monster could not possibly exist, but one of the littluns suggests that it hides in the sea—an idea that terrifies the entire group.

Not long after the meeting, military planes engage in a battle high above the island. The boys, sleeping below, do not notice the flashing lights and explosions in the clouds. A dead parachutist drifts down from the sky, landing on the mountain, next to the signal fire. The twins Sam and Eric, who were on fire duty, had fallen asleep. They wake up and see the enormous silhouette of his parachute and hear the strange flapping noises it makes. Thinking the beast is real, they rush back to the camp in terror and report that the beast has attacked them.

The boys organize a hunting expedition to search for the monster. Ralph and Jack, who have increasingly been at odds, travel up the mountain. They see the parachute from a distance and think it looks like a huge, deformed ape. The group holds a meeting where Ralph and Jack report what they have seen.

Jack declares that Ralph is a coward and should be removed from office, but the other boys refuse to vote Ralph out of power. Jack angrily runs away down the beach, calling all the hunters to join him. Ralph rallies the remaining boys to build a new signal fire, this time on the beach rather than on the mountain. They obey, but before they have finished the task, most of them have slipped away to join Jack.

Jack declares himself the leader of the new tribe and organizes a hunt and a violent, ritual slaughter of a sow to solemnize the occasion. The hunters then decapitate the sow and place its head on a sharpened stake in the jungle as an offering to the beast. Later, encountering the bloody, fly-covered head, Simon has a terrible vision, during which it seems to him that the head is speaking. The voice, which he imagines belonging to the Lord of the Flies, tells him that he will never escape, for he lies within all human beings. Simon faints.

When he wakes up, he climbs the mountain and sees the dead parachutist. Realizing that the beast is not real, he heads to the beach to inform the others. However, they are in the midst of a chaotic revelry, even Ralph and Piggy have joined Jack’s feast. When they see Simon’s shadowy figure emerge from the jungle, they fall upon him and kill him with their bare hands and teeth.

The following morning, Ralph and Piggy discuss what they have done. Jack and his followers attack them and their few remaining allies and steal Piggy’s glasses. Ralph’s group travels to Jack’s stronghold to try to reason with the hunters. Jack and Ralph fight, and Roger rolls a boulder down the mountain, killing Piggy and shattering the conch shell. Ralph barely manages to escape a torrent of spears.

Ralph hides for the rest of the night and the following day while the others hunt him like an animal. Jack has the other boys ignite the forest in order to smoke Ralph out of his hiding place. Ralph stays in the jungle, where he destroys the sow’s head, but eventually is forced out onto the beach, where he collapses in exhaustion. When Ralph looks up, he sees a British naval officer standing over him. The officer, having seen the blazing fire from his ship, has come to investigate.

The other boys reach the beach and stop in their tracks at the sight of the officer. Amazed at the spectacle of this group of bloodthirsty, savage children, the officer asks Ralph to explain. Ralph is overwhelmed by the knowledge that he is now safe but thinking about what has happened on the island, he begins to sob. The other boys begin to cry as well. The officer turns his back so that the boys may regain their composure.

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