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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Lord of the Flies by William Golding-Free Summary
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THE NOVEL

THE PLOT (Short Summary)

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; civilization has been destroyed.

Ralph, a strong and likable 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 sounds 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 with a mulberry-colored birthmark on his face 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 reenact 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. Their fears mushroom 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?"

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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Lord of the Flies by William Golding-Free Summary
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