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Lord of the Flies

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Title Author and Publication

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding was published in 1954 by Faber and Faber Ltd of London. It is currently published by The Penguin Group of New York.

Setting

The novel Lord of the Flies is set on a deserted island somewhere in the tropics. The events of the story occur during a fictional war.

Main Characters

Ralph: a twelve year old boy who, at the outset of the boys’ ordeal is elected leader of the group. Ralph represents the rational and the civilized side of humanity.
Piggy: an overweight and unpopular boy who, because of his intellect and reason, becomes Ralph’s right hand man. Despite his intelligence, Piggy is frequently the object of scorn and teasing by the other boys who consider him a misfit in glasses.
Jack: another of the older boys among the group. Jack is already the leader of the choir and takes his power seriously. Envious of Ralph’s election, Jack becomes Ralph’s rival eventually wresting control completely away. Jack represents the animal nature in all of us which, unchecked by the rules of society, quickly degenerates into savagery.
Simon: one of the older boys in the group. Simon is calm and peaceful. He acts as a natural foil to Jack.

Plot

Lord of the Flies opens with a plane full of British schoolboys crashing on a deserted tropical island. With no adults surviving the crash, the boys are left to themselves to try to stay alive. Immediately a sort of informal society springs up with the election of a leader and the setting down of formal objectives and rules. Initially, rescue is foremost on the collective mind, but it is not long before a power struggle ensues with Jack attempting to sway the boys to his camp. Possessing different goals and vastly different sets of ethics, the boys divide into two tribes. Eventually, Ralph’s side of reason and rationality gives way to Jack’s tribe of hunters, and the boys sink deeper and deeper into a life of violent savagery.

Questions to Ponder

Consider these questions as you read the novel:

1. Examine the symbols of the novel.

  • What is the symbolism of the face paint adopted by Jack’s tribe?
  • What does the conch shell represent?
  • Who or what is the “Lord of the Flies? Consider the origin of the phrase as well as its significance to the story.
  • How does Golding use disease to extend the allegory in the novel? Consider Piggy’s asthma and Simon’s epilepsy as examples.
2. Examine the conflict between good and evil.
  • Are people inherently good or bad?
  • How are the values of the children painted to align them with a specific side?
  • How is this novel an allegory for society as a whole?
3. Consider the theme of the loss of innocence.
  • In what ways do the boys have their innocence stripped from them?
  • Are there any characters that seem to possess no innocence from the outset and what is their purpose in the novel?

Possible First Sentences

  • "Lord of the Flies is an allegory for society at large."
  • "Innocence is not stripped, it is surrendered."
  • "Fear and control are often found together in society."
  • "Is morality an innate feature of personality?"
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