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.

Brief Summary

The chapter opens with Jack hunting. Time has passed since the fire on the mountain, and Jack's hair is longer, and he's naked except for a pair of shorts and a knife belt. He hears the clatter of pigs, but by the time he gets his spear, they are gone, and he has failed again. He joins Ralph, who is working with Simon to build another shelter. Ralph is frustrated because none of the boys except Simon are helping out, and Jack is frustrated because he has not yet killed a pig.

Ralph asks Jack if he has noticed the fear that the little ones feel--screaming and crying during the night. Simon suggests that they think that the beast first described by the missing boy is real, but they dismiss the idea that there is a beast. Ralph talks about the fires and rescue, which Jack does not seem as interested in. Jack just talks about hunting, with frustrates Ralph further. They are both confused by the animosity that is creeping into their friendship.

They go to the bathing pool, and do not see Simon, who had wandered off when Ralph and Jack went down to the beach. Simon walks into the jungle, past the scar formed by the crash. He looks around to make sure he is alone, and then enters his secret spot where he watches night fall.

Detailed Summary

The chapter opens with Jack hunting, crawling around on all fours in the forest, investigating the tracks made by animals. Time has passed since the fire on the mountain, and Jack's hair is longer, and he's naked except for a pair of shorts and a knife belt. He listens to the forest, but it is silent and offers no clue. He becomes frustrated, but continues, and eventually comes across some droppings, which are fresh. He hears the clatter of pigs hooves on the move, but by the time he gets his spear, they are gone, and he has failed again. He walks to the edge of the forest and joins Ralph at some very primitive shelters that face the lagoon.

Ralph is working with Simon to try and form some kind of shelter for the nights. He is not having much success, mostly because only he and Simon are working on them. The rest of the boys are playing or swimming. Ralph expresses his frustration, and though Simon tries to console him by suggesting that as chief he could order them to work, but Ralph knows that it would only work for five minutes, and they would be off playing again. Ralph points out that even Jack's hunters have not been hunting, but swimming for the past few hours. Jack explains that he let them return because he wanted to continue hunting on his own. He wants to kill, but he has not been able to yet. Ralph presses the issue, saying that the shelters are more important than meat, especially since the hunters have not been successful yet. Jack takes this as an accusation of his lack of skill and becomes defensive. Ralph continues to assert the need for shelters, for the rain as well as protection. He asks Jack if he has noticed the fear that the little ones feel--screaming and crying during the night. Simon suggests that they think that the snake-beast first described by the missing boy is real. They dismiss the idea that the snake is real, and Jack softens his attitude toward the shelters. He attempts to describe his feelings while hunting; in the forest he almost feels that he is the hunter, but also the hunted. Ralph does not understand, and speaks of rescue. Jack does not seem as interested in rescue, focused on the need to kill a pig first. Ralph mentions the fires, which exasperates Jack. The two boys walk to the end of the beach and look up at the mountain, doubtful that their meager column of smoke could be seen from any great distance.

Ralph is considering ways to make the fire better, when Jack interrupts with a better plan to catch a pig. This makes Ralph angry, and he accuses Jack of not working at all. The boys become silent after Ralph's outburst, and Jack offers to help a bit on the huts. Ralph tells him not to bother, and they discover that Simon has wandered off. Jack then decides to bathe and then look for tracks on the other side of the mountain, and Ralph decides to work on the huts more. They consider each other, confused by the animosity that is creeping into their friendship.

They go to the bathing pool, and do not see Simon, who had wandered off when Ralph and Jack went down to the beach. He walked into the jungle, past the scar formed by the crash. He gathers some fruit for the little boys around him and then continues deeper into the jungle. He finds a spot covered over with creepers, lit by the bright sun. He looks around to make sure he is alone, and then wiggles his way into a little space screened off by leaves. He looks through the leaves into a clearing, sees butterflies flying, and listens to the sounds of the island. He sits there as the sun sets, and the night flowers open their petals.

Chapter Three Analysis

Jack's emphasis on hunting is clear from the beginning of the chapter. He has taken on the guise of a hunter, and has learned tricks of tracking and hiding. He is still unsuccessful, and his frustration is clearly growing. As he joins Ralph, it seems that his frustration mimics the feelings that Ralph is experiencing, though from a completely different reason. Jack wants to kill, while Ralph wants to save everybody. Ralph focuses on shelters and rescue, which Jack does not care about. He has to prove to himself that he has the ability to kill. He wants to know that he can cross the boundary that has been set forth by society, and challenge the rules that guide civilization. Ralph wants to maintain civilization on the island, and rejoin it back in England as soon as possible.

In this way, the difficulties between them begin, and the split that is to come is in its initial stage, in this chapter. They both begin to realize that the other is not what they originally expected, and their first impressions of each other, as well as life on the island, are in the process of being reassessed. They both expected fun, but Ralph also expected to be rescued, while Jack expected someone who would value his attempts to get meat for everyone. Both are surprised at the other's lack of understanding. Jack attempts to describe what he feels while hunting, which Ralph cannot grasp. To him, the need to kill a pig is unfathomable in the face of the importance of being rescued.

Similarly, the theme that civilization is not a natural, automatic state for humans is expressed by the work Ralph must put forward in order to keep the boys under control. Their work ethic is not fully formed, and has only been in place by the authority of grown-ups, so without adults around, their tendency to play and ignore necessary work is given free reign. Ralph is left alone with Simon, who is the only boy capable of work who understands the need for things such as shelters and sanitation. Ralph has to constantly remind himself of the reason for the fire, and the desire for order is not instinctive. He is frustrated in the face of Jack's growing savagery, as it interferes with his objectives.

Simon's secret spot is introduced, and the existence of it sheds more light on his character. He is a quiet boy who keeps to himself, but is willing to help. He is genuine in his concern for others, and thoughtful about his situation. In his secret spot, he can see a clearing, which is open and pure, occupied only by butterflies. This reflects the purity of his own soul, which, like his secret spot, sets him apart from all the other boys.

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