Lord of the Flies Study Guide

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies is the story of a group of boys whose plane crashes during the wartime evacuation of English schoolchildren. All adults are killed in the crash, and despite early attempts at organization, spearheaded by a boy named Ralph, the boys quickly descend into inhuman behavior that begins with the taunting of an overweight boy known as Piggy and ends with the formation of a savage, bloody society. When the boys are rescued they are confronted with the horrors of their own actions.


The main protagonist of the story. He is fair-haired and good-looking. Physically fit and friendly, he has a natural appeal which leads him to be elected chief of the boys on the island. He is becomes friends with Piggy, who guides his decisions. He is interested mainly in maintaining the fire at the top of the mountain so they can be rescued. He represents civilization, as well as the society they left behind. He changes over the course of the novel, becoming more thoughtful as well as more at ease with acting as chief.


Jack's lieutenant, Piggy is disliked by most of the boys. At the beginning, he is lieutenant by default, since he befriends Ralph and involves himself in everything. He is fat, has asthma and wears glasses, which is very unappealing to the boys, but he is the most rational and clear-thinking of all of them. He is talkative, and gladly shares his opinions unasked. He thinks the most like an adult, and gives Ralph ideas, while grounding him in reality. He views the world scientifically, and is the most dismissive of the idea of a beast. He reveres the shell, and wields it like a weapon.


The main antagonist of the story, Jack is aggressive and unfeeling. He is the leader of a choir group that lands on the island, and he wields as much control over them as he can. He lives in the moment, and though initially interested in rescue, is not concerned about doing anything to achieve it. He is solely interested in hunting. He resents Ralph's authority and eventually sets himself up as chief of his own tribe. He is quick to anger, and is able to work the boys into a frenzy of emotion and activity. He uses his powers of intimidation to bully or trick boys into joining his tribe.


One of Jack's choir boys and picked by Ralph for the initial expedition up the mountain, Simon quickly becomes friends with Ralph. He has foresight, but not the eloquence to express it. He understands their situation and why things do not work, though he does not know that he is correct and cannot describe it for others. A loner, he finds a secret spot in the forest, which he visits often. He is thoughtful and kind, but the other boys think he is crazy. He is the only boy to recognize the nature of the "beast," and he is the only one to have a conversation with the Lord of the Flies.


One of Jack's choir boys, and Jack's lieutenant, he is sadistic and uncaring. Roger is quiet in a foreboding way, not friendly or interested in being polite. He likes tormenting the littluns, and is interested in the ways that authority can be wielded. He kills Piggy by pushing a boulder off a rise, which knocks Piggy off a ledge. He almost fully incarnates the beast that is within all the boys; besides Jack, he is the most violent.


One of the bigger boys, and a member of Jack's choir. He is present with Ralph, Piggy and Simon when the ship is spotted and the fire is out. Good-natured, and intelligent, he offers the suggestion of adding green branches to the fire in order to create more smoke. He is also the boy who always lightens the mood, clowning for the littluns when they are afraid, and encouraging Jack to speak about the hunt when all the boys are depressed about the missed rescue.

Sam and Eric

Also known as Samneric, they are twins who do everything together, acting as one person. They finish each other's sentences, and are so intertwined that all the boys treat them as one individual, hence the combined name. They are vivacious and sociable, with an almost contagious energy. They are the first to see the man in the parachute at the top of the mountain and call it the beast. They often help out with the fire. and they remain true to Ralph until they are physically forced to join Jack's tribe.

Bill, Robert, Harold

All members of Jack's choir, along with the main characters, they make up the group of bigger boys, or "biguns" as they are sometimes called. They form the group of hunters that help Jack. They join his tribe once he establishes himself as chief and they are involved in Simon and Piggy's deaths.


General name for all the small boys on the island, most around six years old. They keep to themselves, and establish a pattern of eating and playing, which they maintain through their time on the island. They are basically ignored by the bigger boys, since they are too young to be useful. They are afraid of the beast, and tend to gather together for comfort, and cry in fear during the night. Notable littluns include the boy with the mulberry scar on his face, who first mentions the beast and disappears soon after, Phil and Percival, who both add more information about the beast, and Henry, an older littlun, who is terrorized by Roger.

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