About the author
Sir William Golding (1911-1993), was an English novelist who wrote exciting adventure stories who deal with the conflict between mind and instinct. William Gerald Golding was born in St. Columb Minor, in Cornwall. He was knighted in 1988. His novels are moral fables that reveal how dangerous and destructive human brings may be unless they are restrained by conscience. Golding won the 1983 Nobel Prize for literature. His most famous book, "Lord of the flies" tells of a group of boys stranded on an island. The Inheritors is set in prehistoric times. The Napoleonic era of the early 1800's forms the setting of the sea-adventure trilogy consisting of Rites of Passage, Close Quarters, and Fire Down Below. Goldings other novels include Pincher Martin, Free Fall, The Spire, The Pyramid and Darkness Visible. His essay's were collected in The Hot Gates.
About the book
Allegorical presentation - why ?
I think that the author compare this little abandoned island, with the real world. On the island there were war, peace, etc. just like in the real world. It`s not hard figuring out why there's war in the world, when abandoned kids on an deserted island can't make peace. The happenings on the island are something that the author uses as an image of the world war 2, were Jack symbols Adolf Hitler, a dictator. Ralph and Piggy symbols the judes - the hunted ones.
A group of boys has been dropped on a tropical island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, their plane having been shot down. A nuclear war has taken place; civilisation has been destroyed.
Ralph, a strong and likeable blond, delights in the fact that there are "no grownups" around to supervise them. The boys have the entire island to themselves. Piggy, who is fat, asthmatic, and nearly blind without his glasses, trails behind as Ralph explores the island. When they find a
white conch shell, Piggy encourages Ralph to blow on it. Ralph blows the conch and the other boys appear. Among them is Jack Merridew, marching the boys' choir, military style, in the blazing sun. There are also the twins, Sam and Eric. Simon, short and skinny with black hair, joins the group. Many other boys who are never given names straggle in.
The group elects Ralph as their leader even though Jack would like to be chosen. Ralph, Simon, and Jack explore the island. It's hard for them to believe they're really on their own, but once they're convinced, Jack decides to be the hunter and provide food. A first attempt at killing a piglet fails. When the conch calls the group together again, they talk about the need for hunters. A small boy says he is afraid of a snakelike beast in the woods. Is there really such a beast? The boys can't agree. However, the fear of the beast, of the dark, and of what is unknown about the island is very real and an important part of the story. Ralph convinces everyone that they need a fire for a signal in case a ship passes the island. Starting a fire is impossible until they use Piggy's glasses. Then the boys often abandon the fire to play, finding it hard work keeping the fire going.
Jack becomes more and more obsessed with hunting and the desire to kill. He says that "you can feel as if you're not hunting, but being hunted, as if something's behind you all the time in the jungle." Jack and his hunters paint their faces to look like masks. Hiding behind the masks, they are able to slaughter a pig. Afterward Jack and the hunters re-enact the killing, one of the
boys pretending to be the pig. Again the fear of the beast is mentioned, and the littlest boys cry about their nightmares while the big ones fight about the existence of the beast. Simon says that perhaps the beast is "only us," but the others laugh him down. They all get scared when the twins, Sam and Eric, see something that does indeed look like the beast. Jack and Ralph lead an exploration and come back, convinced there is a beast. Jack decides he no longer wants to be part of Ralph's tribe. He leaves, inviting the other boys to follow him.
In spite of their growing terror, Jack leads the hunters into the jungle for the slaying of another pig. He places its head on a stake, much like a primitive offering to the unknown beast. Everyone but the twins and Piggy abandon Ralph to attend Jack's feast of roast pig.
Alone in the woods, Simon has a seizure and talks to the pig's head on the stake. In Simon's hallucination the head becomes the Lord of the Flies and says, "Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you?"
A great storm builds over the island, and Simon starts back to where the other boys are. As he stumbles through the jungle, he discovers the beast that the twins thought they saw. A dead man who had parachuted from his plane is caught on the rocks. Terrified and sickened by the sight, Simon loosens the lines and frees the dead man, then starts off to tell the others there is no beast. In the meantime, Ralph has given in and joined Jack's feast, Piggy and the twins follow. They share roast pig and find that the hunters are now treating Jack as a god, serving him and obeying his commands. Ralph and Jack argue over who should be leader. Jack claims the right because he has killed the pig, but Ralph still has the conch. Instead of fighting, Jack suggests they do their pig-killing dance. They begin to chant, "Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!" as the storm overhead gathers force. Piggy and Ralph join the circle to dance with the others. When Simon appears, the boys have ceased to be boys playing a game and have become a dangerous mob. They attack Simon, calling him the beast and killing him with their hunting sticks. Only then does the storm finally break and the rain begin to fall. During the night the tide carries the dead boy out to sea.
The next night Jack and two hunters attack Ralph and Piggy and steal Piggy's glasses. Nearly blind without his glasses, Piggy decides that he and Ralph can do nothing but ask Jack to give them back. Sam and Eric, the only others who have remained with Ralph, go along. They take the conch with them. The fight that has been building between Jack and Ralph over who should be leader finally breaks out. A giant boulder is hurled over a ledge, demolishing the conch and striking Piggy. Piggy dies, and Jack declares himself chief.
The next day Jack and the hunters plan to cover the island looking for Ralph. He will be stalked in much the same way that Jack has gone after the pigs. Ralph hides and runs, becoming more and more a hunted animal. To smoke him out, a fire is started that quickly spreads over the island. At the very last moment, when all hope for him seems lost, Ralph stumbles onto the beach and falls at the feet of a man in uniform. Ralph is saved.
The officer is disappointed at how poorly the boys have managed themselves on the island.
Main characters :
Straight from the source of the book "Lord of the Flies" this is a quick summary on some of the characteristics of the main characters :
A tall, blond twelve year old, establishes himself as the leader of the boys when he
blows the conch shell to call the first assembly. Throughout the story, he struggles to
maintain order, forced to compete with Jack for respect. Ralph in the story was destined to be the leader. He, unlike some other characters did not have to soul search for his leadership,
he knew that he was leadership quality from the beginning of his "drop in on the island". Ralph was quiet , but had the ferocity that Jack had. Ralph had more self-control than Jack, he had the priorities straight. He wanted to build huts and a fire In case of a long stay, and Ralph decided to use the fire as a smoke signal to passing ship and planes. Ralph noticed that a leader had to be well liked and trusted in order to remain in power. He showed examples of this when he talked to the littluns about there being no real beast on the island. The overall point is Ralph was the true leader and he did his job very well, even when things were totally chaotic he maintained his cool. Ralph resembled the adult figure which drove some away but others remained, Ralph as Jack acknowledged at the end was the true leader in "Lord of the Flies."
Piggy, an obese, asthmatic boy with myopic vision, clings to civilisation and refuses to
adopt the new, less structured way of life. Piggy was a very smart boy from England. His physical weaknesses are preyed upon by the other boys, particularly Jack, but Ralph learns to depend upon Piggy for intellectual guidance. Piggy's glasses, his only contribution to survival on the island, become a major focal point in the novel because of their ability to light the signal and cooking fires. Piggy's name parallels the wild pigs that are hunted on the island and also reflects his superior intellect. He was very fat thus giving him his nick-name. His real name is unknown. He had his priorities in the right order and he knew how to make a civilisation work on the island. He was always picked on because he was not the same as the rest of the boys on the island; he was fat, he was smart, he wore glasses, and he wasn't "cool." Because of his physical limitations, his intellectual superiority, and his popularity, he was an outcast from the group and was murdered brutally by having a boulder thrown on him.
Simon, skinny with black hair, is a saint-like presence on the island, neither particularly
popular nor despised. Although he spends much of his time alone in the jungle, he is willing
to help with necessary chores such as building the huts. It is during one of these solitary
journeys into the jungle that he speaks with the "Lord of the Flies," who confirms the
belief that he has tried to share with the others, that the "beast" comes from within them.
Simon is set apart from the boys because of what they think is strange behaviour. He would often wander off alone and was not afraid at all. Actually, he was not so strange at all but had the best understanding of all. He made many trips to the creepers where he would just sit and try to rest. He had the best understanding of the island of anybody in the book. Unlike Jack's pessimistic views about the island, Simon had an optimistic view which counterbalanced everybody else's view. Simon has a lot of care for all of the others especially the littluns but that is reversed when he is brutally killed by the others for his learning about the beast of Lord of the Flies.
Dictator: a ruler having complete authority and unlimited power. Over a period of time, through confusion and ignorance, a leader was overthrown and the stage was set for a harsh tyrant. At the point a dictator arose from a period of campaigning views and issues. The new leader was Jack. Jack initially appears in the novel as the leader of the boys' choir. After losing the election for leader to Ralph, he voluntarily takes charge of hunting and maintaining the signal fire. As the structure of life on the island breaks down, Jack forms a tribe of savage boys on the far side of the island.
It is hard to admit, but maybe this was what the boys needed, although it shows a lot about how humans, to have to exercise complete authority to have productivity. Once Jack had supreme rule, the boys were more comfortable. They need not have to think about the clash between two leaders, and could focus on fulfilling the goals and ambitions of one. Although as most revolutions occur the new leader cannot rest until the other has been killed, or exiled.
Roger, the most savage of the boys, engages in the sadistic torture of a pig, of Piggy and of
the littluns. He supports Jack's leadership in the same way that Piggy backs up Ralph's.
Sam and Erich :
Sam and Eric are twins who merge into a single identity, "Samneric," as the story progresses. When the island society begins to break apart, they maintain their loyalty to
Ralph, but eventually they side with Jack's savage tribe. When they reveal Ralph's hiding
place to the hunters, the final hope for society and order is lost.
The harsh conditions on the island created an environment filled with conflict. All of the characters in the story soon became involved in a violent struggle for leadership of the community. Ralph's ingenuity, in finding the conch shell and using it to call a meeting guaranteed him the support of the Little 'uns, and enough votes to be elected leader. His ideas did not match the needs of the group, to have fun and hunt and be island warriors, and he soon lost his constituency among the Little 'uns, and Jack rose in strength. It became a battle between Ralph and Jack, and Jack was victorious because of his plans to be hunters and to live on Castle Rock, a natural fort. The choice of Jack over Ralph, of violence and foolishness over sensibility, is an obvious metaphor for the condition the children were in at that point. The ending itself, the chase of Ralph, shows the blood lust that grew out of their captivity on the island.
After the hunters are formed, Jack, The Chief, leads the group into murder. At first, he fails to kill the sow because, after all, he is young and has been under the guidance of schoolmasters and parents (maybe bad ones). The humiliation gets back to him and soon he is taken over completely by his anxiousness to kill. Since he is so talented at chorus, he makes up the chant:
"Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in". Soon, conversation of the beast provokes Jack to "change" the text to "Kill the beast". "Cut its throat". "Spill its blood". Jack and the hunters are soon not aware of their actions, and can not tell the difference between the beast and Simon, a beast of his own. I guess the overall rhythm of the words, with its minimalist effects, produce a great motive to kill things. The hunters become so intoxicated, they end up killing Simon. The text changes to Kill the beast. Cut his throat. Spill his blood. The combination of fear and determination results in the kill. They do not realise how serious the matter is until the end of the book, when an adult is around.
Themes of the Story :
The need for civilisation
The most obvious of the themes is man's need for civilisation. Contrary to the belief that man is innocent and society evil, the story shows that laws and rules, policemen and schools are necessary to keep the darker side of human nature in line. When these institutions and concepts slip away or are ignored, human beings revert to a more primitive part of their nature.
Innocense and the loss of it
The existence of civilisation allows man to remain innocent or ignorant about his true nature. Although man needs civilisation, it is important that he also be aware of his more primitive instincts. Only in this way can he reach true maturity. Golding implies that the loss of innocence has little to do with age but is related to a person's understanding of human nature. It can happen at any age or not at all. Painful though it may be, this loss of innocence by coming to terms with reality is necessary if humanity is to survive.
The loss of identity
Civilisation separates man from the animals by teaching him to think and make choices. When civilisation slips away and man reverts to his more primitive nature, his identity disintegrates. The boys use masks to cover their identity, and this allows them to kill and later to murder. The loss of a personal name personifies the loss of selfhood and identity.
Different types of power, with their uses and abuses, are central to the story. Each kind of power is used by one of the characters. Democratic power is shown when choices and decisions are shared among many. Authoritarian power allows one person to rule by threatening and terrifying others. Spiritual power recognises internal and external realities and attempts to integrate them. Brute force, the most primitive use of power, is indiscriminate.
Fear of the unknown
Fear of the unknown on the island revolves around the boys' terror of the beast. Fear is allowed to grow because they play with the idea of it. They can not fully accept the notion of a beast, neither can they let go of it. They whip themselves into hysteria, and their attempts to resolve their fears are too feeble to convince themselves one way or the other. The recognition that no real beast exists, that there is only the power of fear, is one of the deepest meanings of the story.
The indifference of nature
Throughout much of literature the natural world has been portrayed as "mother nature," the protector of man. In Lord of the Flies nature is shown to be indifferent to humanity's existence. When nature creates a situation which helps or hinders mankind, it is an arbitrary happening. Man may be aware of nature, but nature is unconscious and unaware of mankind.
Blindness and sight
Being blind and having special sight are interwoven themes. One who is blind to his immediate surroundings usually has special understanding of things which others cannot fathom. This person sees more, but he is not seen or recognised by those around him. Such a person is often considered a fool and ridiculed by others.
The conch symbols power, peace, law and order. When somebody held the conch, he had the right to speak.
Symbols paradise, a peaceful place. Unfortunately the island appear to be quite the opposite.
The fire symbols hope; a hope of being rescued. Their only connection with the outer world.
The Creepers :
"He wants to know what you're going to do about the snake-thing," the little boy said as the others laughed. The older boys think it's funny but the littluns really believe in "the snake thing" and are not taking this comment lightly. I think the creepers represent the one thing that is holding the boys back their confused and scared minds the boys. "I can't hardly move with all these creeper things," Piggy said. Golding is letting the reader know that the creepers are trouble in the beginning of the book but the reader does not find out that the creepers are what is wrong with the boys mind. I think every boy has their own interpretation of the beast thing. The littluns describe as a snake think but Simon, "the most vivid boy" sees the beast through a pig head. The beast lingers within all the boys and I think that is the reason they get so disorderly at the end of the book. To most people the creepers represents the thing that troubles the boys and brings their orderly society to an end and Golding gives you that impression through symbolism throughout the book.
To the teacher :
I think it was a hard to write short about a such extensive and interesting book. All the names in the book are symbolic, but I've stayed away from mention more to reduce the size, although I may have mentioned something unnecessary.
"Lord of the flies" by William Gerald Golding.
"Alt om bøker" by Tiden Norsk Forlag.
Proudly made by Raymond Rosseland, 2 AA at Gimle upper secondary school. 11/2-1996.
Mark : 5
Source: Essay UK - http://www.essay.uk.com/coursework/lord-of-the-flies-by-william-golding.php