Lord of the Flies Summary

Plot Overview

In one of the countries, there was a nuclear explosion. A group of teenagers who were taken to evacuation was on a desert island. Ralph and the boy, nicknamed Piggy, find a large shell. They call all the guys. The boys are from three to fourteen years old. They choose a "leader." Ralph becomes the leader, and Jack is entrusted to head the choristers, making them hunters.

Ralph, Jack, and Simon are going to explore the island. On the way back, they see a pig, entangled in vines. Keeping the knife, Jack still could not commit the murder. Piglet ran away, and the teenager was ashamed of his indecision. At the meeting, Ralph explained that from now on they will have to decide everything themselves. Guys do not yet think about the possibility of salvation, they are carefree and cheerful.

Ralph proposes to breed a large bonfire on the top of the mountain and carefully maintain it so that they can be noticed from the ship. Jack and his detachment take over the maintenance of the fire. Boys do not want to work seriously. The hunters did not follow the fire, and the people who passed by the ship did not notice them. The extinguished bonfire was the occasion for a quarrel between Ralph and Jack, who had hammered the first pig before.

Ralph understands how important it is to be able to consistently and correctly express your thoughts; he invites boys to the next meeting. For him, the main thing is to eradicate the fear that has crept into the souls of the boys. However, Jack suddenly utters the word "beast." In addition, another boy claims that the beast comes out of the sea. Simon suggests: "Maybe it's us ..."

Jack promises to track down the beast. The inhabitants of the island are divided into two camps. One personifies order, mind, law; the other is the blind power of destruction. Twins Eric and Sam, after their duty at the campfire, notify the guys that they saw the beast. Ralph, Jack, and Roger, in the light of the moon, take the body of a skydiver hanging on the slings for a terrible beast.

Jack, reproaching Ralph for cowardice, goes into the forest. Gradually, there are fewer children in the camp. They go to Jack. Simon witnesses their hunting for a pig. The boys put a pig's head on the count. It is covered with flies. This is the lord of the flies. To get fire, hunters raid the camp. Their faces are smeared with clay. Having mastered the fire, Jack invites everyone to stick to his squad. All except Ralph and Piggy go to the detachment of Jack. He calls them to join his army.

Ralph recalls that he was elected as a leader by democratic means. Having been on the mountain and making sure that there is no beast, Simon hastens to inform the children about it, but in the dark, he is mistaken for a beast and killed in a ritual dance. Ralph tries to support the bonfire, but Jack steals Piggy's glasses, with which the boys planted fire. Ralph and Piggy want to return them, go to Jack's camp, but he meets them hostilely. In the fight, Ralph gets injured, and Piggy killed by a stone thrown from the fortress.

Ralph manages to escape. Later he asks the sentries Erik and Sam to take the hunters away from his hiding place. But Eric and Sam tell Jack everything. Ralph can not hide in the forest, he rushes around the island. On the shore, he meets a naval officer. A man is struck by the news of the terrible death of two boys.

Symbolism in the Novel

The main symbol of maintaining a civilized system in society is a bonfire erected on a hill. And at the moment when Jack and his friends-hunters let the fire go out, a turning point in the coexistence of differently directed ideologies is coming. Now Jack is interested only in the hunt for pigs, and he uses the original instincts of all other inhabitants of the island (the desire to be fed and protected) for his own benefit, thereby "biting off" a good part of the supporters of Ralph's ideology under his wing. Henceforth, for a new social group, the murder takes the form of a sacred ritual in which bloodlust, insatiability, and insanity are integral components. The image of a rational man in the person of Jack loses all his connecting elements, and a creature, even a humanoid in form, but absolutely formless, greedy and hungry by nature, comes to his place. Freedom is in savagery is the basic postulate of the group headed by Jack.

While the horn and bonfire can be considered symbols of the democracy of Ralph society, the social group under the leadership of Jack also has its own symbol. This is Lord of the Flies. Planted on the stick, the head of the killed pig is a vivid example of demonism and the embodiment of evil.

The apogee of spiritual impoverishment happens during a terrible ritual in which the innocent Simon, the symbol of Christ, is entangled in devilish games. Thus, murderous insanity acquires a new, human dimension. Simon is killed in the heat of hatred, the next victim is Piggy. He was the last stronghold of civilization, after the death of whom its symbol, the horn of democracy, also collapses. In the end, human ferocity finds another victim in the face of Ralph and falls upon him with all his might.

It's paradoxical, but at such a moment, the salvation in the form of a naval officer comes to meet the boys. But the trouble is that the point of no return is already passed, the person lost his face, his base features were revealed to the world, and therefore his salvation is only formal, while his spiritual component has long melted in a hell boiler.

The Image of a Real Human Nature

One of the most interesting philosophical lines of the novel lies in the fact that the writer not only remelts ideas about the shortcomings of society and human nature in a new artistic form but also, trying to figure out the possibilities of cognizing these shortcomings, considers the characters in various connections with evil. On the one hand, we must not forget that Golding's characters are not the specific boys with their child's logic and behavior, but also certain social and philosophical types. On the other hand, the island described by Golding is a field of struggle, which will appear not only as a clash of antagonistic characters but as a conflict of various principles in the person himself. In a sense, the "Lord of the Flies" can be called a "novel of the conflicted hero," and it is not by chance that the characters are hardly identified at the beginning of the action when they are just schoolchildren who are in trouble, nor at the end, when an officer with a passing cruiser is surrounded indistinguishable from each other, frightened, crying boys. Golding does not write about personalities. He writes about the very human nature in its polarities, which cannot be smoothed out. Jack and Ralph, Simon and Piggy are components of a single image, and Golding's book is not an analysis of particular cases, but a portrait of the man himself.

Philosophical Subtext in the Images of the Main Characters

The main characters of «Lord of the Flies» are a well-chosen ensemble. In accordance with the genre, each hero represents his specific position (the side of the human soul) in the struggle of two worlds - the world of savagery, irresponsibility and the world of common sense, civilization. In this struggle, the main storyline is built. The author confronts his characters not only as incarnations of different types of domestic and social behavior, but also as original theoretical positions, as ways of understanding Golding's "truth" about human nature, and consequently about the causes of world wars and the fragility of civilization. In connection with this duality, the same character can perform different roles in the work. So, at the head of the camp of democracy is Ralph, and although he is the main opponent of the leader of the "hunters Jack, in the philosophical plan the savagery is opposed primarily by Piggy and Simon. These characters in the conflict of civilization with barbarism act as associates, but in their relation to evil, in turn, are antagonists.

Clumsy and short-sighted, physically weak, helpless without his glasses, fat Piggy gives himself the role of an ideologist for whom in any extraordinary situation everything is logical, unambiguous and simple. This is a type of technocrat, rationalist, embodied common sense. However, the writer throughout his work relates to the constant suspicion of the idea of the salutary role of science and rationalism. The main trouble consists primarily in the fact that rationalism does not give him the opportunity to realize the complexity, the multifaceted nature of life, forcing him to simplify everything, to reduce everything to a reasonable, logical basis. Therefore, seeing the external evil escaping to the surface, he is unable to find the source. And not understanding its laws, Piggy cannot use the only weapon available to him - the mind. In this context, the short-sightedness of the hero is clearly symbolic.

Of all the teens, only Simon will understand who this beast is, whom the hunters have made their idol. These are hidden fears, cruelty, barely concealed by good manners, a sense of herdness, and an easy willingness to kill, until the murder is impenetrable. Simon reaches this understanding with intuition, insight. He simply feels evil as a deep disease of mankind and himself. But only understanding, according to Golding, is not enough: a person should not deceive himself, should not turn a blind eye to the truth. He must have the courage, first, not being afraid, to look into his own soul; second, to be able to resist this evil.