Lord of the Flies Chapter 1 Summary



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Lord of the Flies Chapter 1 Summary

•As the novel opens, “the fair boy” makes his way out of a jungle and toward a lagoon.

•A red and yellow bird flashes upward with a witch-like cry (eerie, isn’t it?) just as another youngster, “the fat boy” who is wearing “thick spectacles” follows behind.

•The two boys meet and discuss the fact that, holy smokes, their plane has crashed.

•The fat boy wonders where the man with the megaphone is, which we should all keep in mind for the next few paragraphs.

•Also, there are no grown-ups.

•Also, they can’t find the plane or the pilot. The fair boy concludes that both must have been dragged out to sea by a storm. He makes the dire statement that “There must have been some kids still in it,” “it” being the plane that went out to sea.

•The fat boy (we’re not being judgmental – that’s what he’s called) asks the fair boy (again, that's what he’s called) what his name is.

•It is Ralph. Ralph has no interesting in learning the fat boy’s name.

•But, the pair assumes others have survived and are around here somewhere, perhaps hiding in the copious foliage or something.

•The fat boy lags behind Ralph because of his “ass-mar,” which is probably “asthma.” Also, the fat boy has to poo. (English major-y people called this kind of thing “realism.”)

•Ralph races ahead to the water, and we get a detailed description of the shore, the palm trees, the coarse grass, and the decaying coconuts. This is all in contrast to “the darkness of the forest.”

•Ralph decides the thing to do is have a swim. So he gets naked. Many more naked boys to come, by the way, so be prepared.

•While we’re busy getting a description of Ralph, the fat boy shows up and joins in the nude swimming fun. The water is “warmer than [their] blood [. . .] like swimming in a huge bath.” (So, a delightful hot tub, if you ignore the blood imagery.)

•We get a nice description of Ralph; he is twelve and has the build of maybe being a boxer someday when he’s older, but you can also plainly see that there is “no devil” in him. Lastly, he has “bright, excited eyes.”

•The fat boy admits to Ralph that most people call him “Piggy,” and asks Ralph not to tell anyone.

•Ralph is not the nicest guy to Piggy (“They call you PIGGY!?” sort of thing), but we’re holding out judgment on him since he is, after all, a twelve-year-old boy.

•Ralph claims that his father, who is in the Navy, is going to come rescue them.

•Piggy, however, says the pilot told them (before the crash) that an atomic bomb had gone off and everyone was dead.

•This, combined with the earlier megaphone comment, suggests that perhaps the boys were being evacuated, maybe even from some kind of war zone, when the plane crashed.

•Anyway, Piggy asserts that they are probably going to have to “stay here till [they] die.”

•On this cheerful note, they decide to put their clothes back on. In doing so, they find a large white conch shell, which Piggy remembers is a faux, MacGyver-style megaphone.

•Ralph makes several efforts before an amazing sound comes out of the shell, “a deep, harsh boom.”

•As you might expect, man has ruined the peaceful stillness of the virgin island.

•Amidst the squawking birds and scurrying furry things, the other boys come out of the woodwork. Some are small. Many are naked.

•While Ralph continues to revel in the “violent pleasure” of blowing the conch, Piggy goes to great lengths to ask and learn everyone’s name, among them a young child named Johnny and a pair of twins named Sam and Eric.

•Ralph sees a dark, fumbling creature, but concludes that it is only a group of boys wearing black choir robes. There is a red-headed boy at the head of the pack “controlling them.”

•The boy commands them all to stand in a line. We’re thinking it must be rather uncomfortable in the sun to be wearing heavy, black cloaks, and our suspicions are confirmed when one of the boys faints, face-first, in the sand.

•The boys ask the red-headed leader (Merridew) “But can’t we, Merridew…” which we think means “Please let us take off these absurd cloaks.”

•Merridew ignores the boy who’s fainted.

•Piggy at first doesn’t ask names of this group, as he is intimidated. But he does remind everyone that names are oh-so-important.

•This is about the time Ralph tells everyone that Piggy’s name is Piggy.

•And now we meet the rest of the cast. We’ve got Maurice, who smiles a lot; Jack Merridew, the tyrant you already met and the largest of the choir boys; Roger, who is “slight” and “furtive” and has an “inner intensity of avoidance and secrecy”; Simon, who has recovered from his fainting spell; and those without much description: Bill, Robert, Harold, and Henry.

•Guess which one is evil incarnate.

•Jack says they should work out the getting rescued part.

•Ralph’s response is “Shut up.” He decides they need a chief.

•Jack declares that, most sensibly, he should be chief because he’s the head boy of the choir and can sing a C sharp, which everyone knows will come in handy later when negotiating with foreign peoples.

•Yet, because they are good, British boys who know how to follow parliamentary procedure, they decide to vote. Amazingly, they pull this off without the aid of an electoral college, and Ralph becomes chief (although the choir boys did vote for Jack out of obligation). Interestingly, Piggy hesitated to vote for Ralph, probably because Ralph screwed him over with the whole name thing.

•“But why was Ralph elected?” you ask. Actually, Golding tells us. He says Ralph has a stillness, is attractive, and most importantly has the conch.

•Ralph feels bad and gives Jack a consolation prize. No, not a useless vice presidency, but rather control over the choirboys.

•Jack decides his group (the choir-boys) will act as the hunters. Apparently, he’s power-hungry AND blood thirsty.

•Ralph, Jack and Simon go off to explore the uninhabited island for the sole purpose of discovering if it is, in fact, uninhabited.

•Piggy offers to go, but Jack tells him he’s not suited for a job like this (with all the walking and such). Piggy protests, but Ralph sends him back to take names.

•They do find tracks and wonder aloud what made them. Ralph asks “Men?” and Jack answers “Animals.” Hmm!

•Like all good exploring banter, their dialogue is filled with such British wonders as “wacco”, “wizard” and “sucks to you!”

•The boys find a large rock poised near the edge of the cliff and do the only thing that pre-teen boys could be expected to do in such a circumstance: push it over the edge. They do, and remark that it falls “like a bomb.”

•They finally climb to the top of this big mountain they’ve found and look all around at the island. Ralph says “This belongs to us.”

•They make some cartographic observations of the land, noting the large coral reef and the gash in the trees where their plane hit.

•On their way back to the lagoon, they find a small pig, tangled in the creepers. Jack raises his knife to kill it, but can’t quite bring himself to, and the pig escapes.

•Jack of course makes lots of excuses.



Lord of the Flies Chapter 2 Summary

•Ralph blows the conch and calls another meeting. By now, thank goodness, the choir boys have removed their cloaks.

•Using his authority as the newly elected chief, Ralph addresses the boys and tells them that they need to get organized.

•Apparently that means rules. Now all boys have to raise their hand to talk. Oh, and no one can speak unless they’re holding the conch shell.

•The boys are excited about having rules, but mostly so that they can punish those who break them. This notion elicits cries of “Whee-oh!” “Wacco!”“Bong!” and “Doink!”

•Piggy takes the conch to raise a few points: 1) they might never get off this island and 2) assuming they don’t, they should figure out how to go about the process of not dying.

•Ralph agrees with the whole “we might be here until eternity” thing, but he declares quite clearly that “this is a good island.” Go ahead and sticky-note this page.

•(But in case you forget to sticky-note it, you have another chance several paragraphs later when he again says “It’s a good island.”)

•One small boy with a mulberry-colored birthmark, the reason for which will be shortly explained, requests the conch and everyone laughs until Piggy demands he be allowed to speak.

•The young child is too scared to talk in front of everyone, so Piggy listens and then tells the rest:

•The child is fearful of a mysterious snake-thing in the jungle.

•He describes it as a “beastie” and says it comes only in the dark. (We have concluded that the boys must have been on the island for at least one night before they found each other and began to organize.)

•The other boys laugh and they decide that the beastie is just the ropey-looking creepers that hang in the trees.

•Jack says of course there isn’t a beast, but just in case they’re all going to go hunt for it anyway.

•Ralph is forced to concede, and notes that he is “facing something ungraspable.”

•Ralph insists that a signal fire must be made so that when his father comes to rescue them on a ship, the men on board will see the smoke and know where to find them. Also, burning things is fun.

•Everyone tears off, and Piggy remarks that they’re all acting “like a bunch of kids.”

•Everyone excitedly piles up the wood before realizing…they have no way of starting the fire. Jack very helpfully mumbles something about rubbing two sticks together (Eagle Scout Lesson #2, if you’ve been counting.)

•They use Piggy’s glasses to start the fire after many hurrahs and much gathering of wood.

•Piggy is not happy about the use of his glasses for this purpose. What we mean is: “[Piggy’s] voice rose to a shriek of terror as Jack snatched the glasses off his face.”

•Ralph says that they need to choose certain, responsible people to keep the fire going at all times – in case a ship passes by.

•Jack declares: “We’re English, and the English are best at everything.”

•Piggy, rather blind without his glasses, grabs the conch from Ralph and complains about how no one pays attention to his ideas.

•While the boys argue, the fire spreads…like wildfire.

•As the smoke drifts through the air, Piggy rants about all these things they should have done, like build shelters and show him some respect. Then, most likely because of the smoke, his asthma flairs up and he can’t breathe.

•Yet, it seems he has enough breath to point out that the small children, a.k.a. “the littluns,” seem to be missing, especially that one who complained about “the beastie” and had a mulberry-colored birthmark, the better to distinguish him by when he’s gone. He seems to be the most missing of all.nks, “Next time there [will] be no mercy.”



Lord of the Flies Chapter 3 Summary

•Time has passed, and as Chapter Three opens, we see Jack, his bare back a “mass of dark freckles and peeling sunburn.” He is naked (what do you know) except for a pair of tattered shorts.

•Jack has become obsessed with killing a pig. Obsessed to the point of tracking down pig’s droppings.

•Based on his sniffing the air all the time, it seems that Jack is now a lot like an animal himself, or at the least a primitive form of man.

•Jack fails to catch a pig, yet again.

•He tries to take it out on someone else, meaning Ralph and Simon, who are trying to build shelters out of leaves.

•It’s not going so well, as you might have expected.

•So Ralph and Jack do what they always do together: argue. Jack thinks it’s more important to kill things, while Ralph thinks it’s more important to not die of exposure.

•Ralph makes the argument that everyone is still scared of the beastie.

•He says that the children are scared “As if it wasn’t a good island.” This is an interesting line to sticky-note along with that earlier one.

•Jack, too, admits he gets a little scared when he’s in the jungle alone.

•Despite all this, Ralph is still mostly concerned with the fire.

•Jack suggests they could paint their faces. We suggest you flip back to that part about the brightly-colored bird.

•And the point of painting faces is that they could sneak up on the pigs while they’re sleeping.

•Piggy lies on his stomach and stares at the water. But he does point out that Simon is the one helpful guy, whenever he’s not missing, which he tends to be quite frequently.

•OK, camera swivel; now we’re looking at Simon as he walks into the forest “with an air of purpose.” We are told that his “bright eyes” made Ralph think he was “delightfully gay and wicked,” when in fact he is not. He is also tan, barefoot, and has “a coarse mop of black hair.”

•The littluns follow after him, and he helps them pick fruit too tall for them to reach before heading deeper into the jungle by himself.

•Simon comes to a place where “the creepers had woven a great mat that hung at the side of an open space in the jungle.”

•He crawls inside this space (we cannot imagine why) and chills out there while evening approaches, musing non-specifically.

Lord of the Flies Chapter 4 Summary

•More unspecified time has passed. The boys have developed a sort of rhythm in their lives that involves the littluns playing together, the biguns (Jack and the choir boys) still hunting pigs, and the other boys (Ralph, Simon, and Piggy) trying to build shelters and keep the signal fire going.

•We are reminded that there are sharks in the water beyond the reef.

•One littlun named Percival cries all the time and everyone thinks he’s a little crazy.

•The biguns and littluns have become rather separate groups, although Simon, Maurice, and Robert are walking a fine line because of their size (in general, though, it seems they are considered biguns). Being a littlun is terrible, as there’s no one to really take care of them. They have built and decorated sandcastles near the little river, which has become their play and general dwelling area.

•We see Henry, the biggest of the littluns, hanging out with the smallest (Percival and Johnny). The children are “at peace” until Roger and Maurice come along and step on their sandcastles, with Roger in the lead and Maurice feeling a little guilty.

•Once again, can you guess which one will end up being evil incarnate?

•Roger follows Henry as he wanders off to an overlook; below, Ralph, Simon, Piggy, and Maurice are splashing in the pool (the small and naturally-occurring kind, not the cabana kind).

•Roger starts throwing stones at Henry, but missing on purpose because he still has some semblance of decency left, at least for the time being.

•Jack calls to Roger; he’s with Sam, Eric, and Bill and still on this pig-hunting kick.

•Jack refers to the twins as “Samneric.”

•After going through with the face painting plan, using white and red clay and a stick of charcoal, Jack looks at his reflection in a coconut shell full water and is astonished to see an “awesome stranger” looking back at him. He begins to dance, and it seems that the mask is a “thing on its own, behind which Jack hid.”

•When he orders the boys to come with him, it is “the mask” that “compel[s] them,” not Jack. Creepy stuff.

•Meanwhile, back at the lagoon, Ralph, Simon and Piggy are still swimming with Maurice.

•Piggy suggests that they should make a sundial, but, as has become general habit, no one takes his suggestions seriously.

•Suddenly, Ralph spots a ship.

•Much excitement follows.

•Piggy is immediately frantic as to whether or not the signal fire is still lit. Ralph dashes up the mountain to see, “doing desperate violence to his naked body among the rasping creepers so that blood was sliding over him.” (Yes – still naked.)

•But before he goes, Simon seems to know what’s up. He “crie[s] out as though he [has] hurt himself” and tries to touch Ralph’s face. Interesting!

•As you might have guessed, the signal fire has indeed gone out.

•By the time they stop panicking, the ship has disappeared.

•Now WHERE, everyone wants to know, are the (former) choirboys who were supposed to be tending the fire?

•Everyone looks down from the mountain and sees a procession of choice boys who have finally ditched the black robes and joined in the public nudity. But, they’re still ominously wearing their black caps.

•They are also, equally ominously, led by Jack, carrying a dead pig on a stake, and chanting: “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood.”

•Jack and his posse tell the tale of how they killed the pig.

•Ralph stares at them, expressionless, and finally says, “You let the fire go out.”

•Jack and Co. experience that “oops” feeling, accompanied by a side of intense guilt.

•Piggy rails on them for being irresponsible; in a moment of twelve-year-old-boy-ness, Jack punches Piggy in the face.

•Simon finds the glasses and reveals that a lens is broken, which leaves Piggy with vision in just one eye.

•Finally, Jack breaks down and apologizes.

•Standing still and stoic, Ralph very simply commands them to rebuild the fire. In this, we are told, he reasserts his chieftainship; the choir boys are forced to rebuild the fire away from where Ralph stands, unmoving, which is a hell of a lot of work for them. He finally has to move to help them light the fire, using Piggy’s glasses.

•Piggy is obviously not comfortable with his only means to sight being used this way; he snatches the “specs” back immediately, as the boys begin to roast the pig they killed, ripping off hunks of meat and devouring it like wolves.

•In his attempt to be indignant and above everyone, Ralph tries to not eat any of the meat Jack is roasting. That lasts about two seconds once the smell reaches his nose; remember, they’ve been eating fruit and plants since they got to the island.

•No one hands Piggy any meat, and when Jack gives him a hard time about his not helping with the hunt, Simon gives his own food to Piggy.

•Jack is furious, and yells at Simon to “Eat! Damn you!” He basically realizes he has no power over the boys unless they eat the meat he got for them all.

•The hunters describe their kill again in gory detail, and continue their chant of “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in.”

•This is pretty bad, as you can tell. The boys are becoming violent barbarians and fast.

•Ralph decides to call another meeting and walks down the mountain.

Lord of the Flies Chapter 5 Summary

•Ralph sounds the conch shell and the boys gather for a meeting. A serious meeting.

•We get a description of the meeting place: we know it’s on a sort of platform, and now we’re told it’s shaped like a triangle. Ralph, as the chief, sits on a huge log, which lays parallel to the beach below. To his right is another not-so-chiefly log, and on the left four smaller logs, all which make for seats for the boys.

•Ralph gets rather philosophical here before the big meeting, pondering such relevant matters as, “If faces [are] different when lit from above or below – what [is] a face? What [is] anything?” It seems the wilderness has made Ralph question the very foundations of his knowledge. If this seems weird to you, we suggest you live on an uninhabited island for a month or two.

•After all this pondering, Ralph gets around to blowing the conch.

•Ralph is bothered by his long shaggy hair which keeps falling into his eyes but he goes on with the speech he has prepared.

•He reminds the boys of some rules: 1) (as you might have guessed) KEEP THE SIGNAL FIRE GOING, 2) don’t build any other fires, and 3) do their toilet business by the rocks near the bathing pool instead of all over the island, as they have been doing (the boys snigger and laugh at this last item).

•Ralph adds that “This place is getting dirty.”

•He also decides to address their fear – fear about dying and fear about the beastie.

•When he sets down the conch, Jack grabs it up and tells all the little children to stop acting like children. He says there is no beast, and if they’re afraid they should suck it up. He’s been all over the island, after all, and he hasn’t seen anything.

•There’s this great moment where someone asks what a beast would eat, someone else says “pig,” and yet another someone said “We eat pig.”

•Piggy, in a moment of astounding and unprecedented perception, states that there is no beast, and no fear, either – unless they get frightened of people. So there’s nothing to fear but the fear of people.

•One of the littluns (Phil) tries to declare that the beast comes out at night.

•When they tell him it was a dream, he says quite adamantly that no, he was dreaming that the creepers were snakes, and then after he woke up he saw something big moving in the dark.

•Ralph insists it was a dream, until Simon admits he was the one mucking about in the dark.

•Simon grabs the conch and explains that sometimes he likes to go hang out in this “place” in the jungle.

•They keep talking about “getting taken short,” which is refined British for “needing to poo.” Supposedly, this is why Simon was out, but we all know that’s not true.

•Another littlun comes forward, and again Piggy has to hold the conch for him and coax some words out of him. This little guy is none other than Percival.

•Percival gets a little nutty; he yammers off his street address, he cries, then he yawns, then he staggers, and finally he just lies down in the grass and goes to sleep, but not before telling Jack that the beast “comes out of the sea.”

•Simon makes a comment on “mankind’s essential illness” and states that the beast is “only us.”

•Simon tries to further his point by asking, “what’s the dirtiest thing there is?”

•Jack’s answer, “one crude expressive syllable” (yes, you know what it is) causes the other boys to scream with delight (remember, essentially, these are proper, well-educated British boys – swearing was a big thrill for them).

•As the boys laugh, Simon gives up on his effort to make them think about themselves and sits down in defeat.

•The idea that the beast might be a ghost is discussed, which visibly upsets Piggy.

•Someone yells at him to “shut up, you fat slug!” (ouch!) and the whole meeting begins to disintegrate.

•Ralph shouts that the rules are the only thing they’ve got holding them together, but Jack is louder and leads a pack of boys off to search for the beast and hunt him down.

•Piggy and Ralph and Simon are left in despair. Piggy says to blow the conch to get everyone back.

•Ralph makes the third amazing comment of the chapter, stating that, if he blows it now and no one comes back, the conch will have lost its power completely. And then, they will all “be like animals.”

•He wants to give up being chief, but Piggy asks desperately what would happen then.

•Simon tries to convince Ralph to go on with his duties.



•There’s some talk of how, if only the grown-ups were there, they’d know what to do. They would have rules and they would meet and discuss. They wish for a “sign” from the adults.

•As the boys stand there in the darkness, a thin wail arises. It’s one of the littluns, Percival, crying out from his spot on the grass.


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