This website provides a basic overview of the novel Lord of the Flies, and some information regarding the author; William Golding. The novel was written in 1954, and Golding was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for it. The novel describes the events of the rise and fall of a small democracy consisting of only children, on a deserted island, and the eventual corruption of the children to evil.
In the middle of a war, a plane releases it's passenger tube to evacuate a group of boys. The tube lands on a island, full of fruit and pigs. After landing, the boys meet when two boys Piggy and Ralph have the idea to blow on a shell to bring the other boys together. Ralph, is elected to be the leader by these other boys.
Ralph, and two boys met at the meeting, Jack and Simon, leave the rest to explore the island. After confirming that they are isolated, Ralph decides that they must light a signfal fire in order to attract attention by passing ships. By using Piggy's glasses, the boys create a fire. Quickly, the flame spreads across much of the forest out of control. One of the "littluns" (younger children) disappears during this fire.
The littluns play while Ralph, Piggy, and Simon make an effort to construct shelters. The other group, the hunters, fail to catch a wild pig.
One day, a ship passes by the island. Ralph and Piggy notice that their signal fire had been extinguished, and are furious with the hunters (which were responsible for maintaining the fire). Jack responds angrily, happy that he caught a pig with his group. Later that day, a littlun reveals that the children have began becoming afraid of a "beast".
While the boys are sleeping, a parachutist falls into a tree near the signal fire. When the twins in charge of keeping the signal fire lit awake, they think that the parachutist is a beast and rush back to the camp.
Jack and Ralph decide to hunt the beast, but soon become afraid and return. Jack calls Ralph a coward, and leaves the rest. He tells all the hunters to come with him. Many of the other boys slowly sneak away to join Jack, no longer wanting to be under Ralph's power.
Jack becomes the leader of his new group, and organizes a hunt. He kills a pig, and places its head on a stake in the jungle as an offering to the beast. Simon later comes face-to-face with this pig head, and thinks that the head is speaking to him (with the voice of the Lord of the Flies). It tells Simon that Simon will not escape him, for he exists in all men. After Simon awakes from fainting from this vision, he goes to the mountain where the dead parachutist still lies hanging. Simon travels to the beach to tell the others what he has seen, but the rest of the boys on the island become chaotic and kill him.
Piggy and Ralph discuss what they have done the next morning. Jack's group attacks them and steals Piggy's glasses, which upsets Ralph. Ralph, Sam, Eric and Piggy travel to find Jack's group in attempt to make Jack find peace again, but Jack's group ties Sam and Eric up and fights with Ralph. A boy from Jack's group named Roger, rolls a boulder over the mountain which kills Piggy and breaks the conch shell. Ralph is chased after, but manages to hide.
Ralph continues hiding, while Jack's group hunts him. Jack requests that his group ignites the forest in an attempt to smoke Ralph out of his hiding place, but Ralph remains hiding in the forest. In the forest, Ralph finds the pig's head which he destroys. He is eventually forced onto the beach, where the other boys will be able to find him. Ralph collapses, but when he awakes there is a British naval officer standing next to him. The officer's ship had seen the raging fire and came to rescue them. All of the boys remaining on the island begin to cry.
Ralph is the main character of the novel. He is the first character we are introduced to, and is described as being a handsome youth, with fair blonde hair. Throughout the novel he is a very responsible boy, concerned only with the maintenance of the signal fire; and being rescued. He could be seen as a model child.
Piggy is the second character that we are introduced to. He cannot see very well, or do much physical labour, but is very useful in terms of providing ideas and thoughts. He is a thinker, and has the same central motivation as Ralph; to maintain the fire and to be rescued. Piggy is the brain behind all of Ralph's actions.
Simon is one of Ralph's allies throughout the novel. Besides Piggy, he is the only one who helps Ralph while all of the others go hunting. He is epileptic, and at the time, this was perceived as having a connection with god. In the novel, he has a seizure and speaks to the Lord of the Flies, who tells him about his upcoming death, and also about the true identity of the beast. Simon represents the goodness in human kind, as apposed to Roger who represents the evil.
Roger is a sadistic character from almost the start of the novel. His central motivation is to hurt others, but, at the start of the novel, he is still restrained by the rules of society and adults. However, as the novel progresses, his evil nature overtakes his conscience, and he becomes a savage, and the murderer of Piggy.
Jack is the antagonist in the novel. From the very beginning of the novel, he does not see eye to eye with Ralph. While Ralph's primary goal is to be rescued and maintain a democracy, Jack wants only to hunt and play. He is a much more natural leader than Ralph, which is one of the reasons why eventually, all of the children gravitate to him instead of Ralph. He is ruthless towards both animals and people.
Sam and Eric
Sam and Eric are twins who do everything together. They are later referred to as being "Samneric", one person. They are symbols of unity in Lord of the Flies. They work with Ralph, but eventually are threatened and forced to join Jack's tribe.
"Littluns" are the younger children on the island. They help with some work, but mostly spend time playing on the beach, etc. One is lost in a fire at the beginning of the novel. The Littluns are the ones who are at first afraid of the "beast".
The author of Lord of the Flies is William Golding (19 September, 1911 - 19 June, 1993). He was a British novelist and poet, and was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983. He is best known for his novel Lord of the Flies. He was a soldier during World War II where he fought in the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, and many people believe that this is where he was inspired to write a book with such cynical themes and ideas as Lord of the Flies. Golding married his first and only wife Ann Brookfield, on September 30th, 1939. He had two children with her, and remained married to her for the duration of his life.
There are many people, objects, and ideas in the novel Lord of the Flies that actually represent something else. It plays an important part in the novel, giving larger significance to that person or object. For example, the two leaders which are established at the beginning of the book are Ralph and Jack. Ralph and the Conch (a shell he blows into for meetings) represent democray and order, while Jack, the violent hunter, represents savagery and anarchy. The "Beast" in this novel represents the evil within everybody (which is discovered as the novel progresses). Simon, a hard worker, represents pure goodness. He is later killed, showing that pure goodness is highly unlikely to exist in society. Both Roger and the Lord of the Flies (the pig head which is cut by Jack) represent great danger and evil. Also, the island is a microcosm representing the world. While there are other symbols in this novel, these are some of the more significant examples.
Here are some other websites where you may find more information regarding Lord of the Flies:
Lord of the Flies Information Website - including analysis, character information, etc.
SparkNotes: Lord of the Flies - includes summary, character information, symbolism analysis, and more.
William Golding Biography - a short outline of William Golding's life and works.