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

Weary but determined, Simon leaves his secret spot and climbs the mountain. Seeing the figure in the parachute, he realizes that the beast that everyone saw at the top of the mountain is a decaying corpse. He decides to go to the boys and tell them about the beast.

Piggy and Ralph decide to go to the feast, where they find Jack acting like royalty. Jack addresses everyone, asking for the boys to join his tribe. Ralph responds by reminding the boys that he is the elected chief, with the conch shell. The boys declare their allegiance to Jack, and he encourages the boys to do the hunting dance that they developed.

Acting out the hunt, the excitement grows and they work themselves into a frenzy. Simon emerges from the forest, with the news of the man on the top of the mountain. He ends up in the center of the circle and is killed.

Detailed Summary

Simon wakes up and realizes he is still in his secret spot, near the clearing with the Lord of the Flies. He gets up and leaves the spot. Weary but determined, he climbs the mountain and sees the figure in the parachute. He realizes that the beast that everyone saw at the top of the mountain is a decaying corpse attached to a parachute. He looks down to the area around the platform and does not see a fire. He then looks to the area around Castle Rock, which does have smoke, and he notices that most of the boys are congregated there. He decides to go to the boys and tell them about the beast.

Piggy and Ralph are all alone at the platform and they decide to go to the feast. Everyone there is laughing and having a good time. Jack sits in the center, like royalty, and all the boys have their fill of meat. Jack sees Ralph and Piggy and offers them some meat. They eat, staying outside of the circle. Jack addresses everyone, asking for the boys to join his tribe. Ralph responds by reminding the boys that he is the elected chief, with the conch shell. Jack insists that his tribe is about hunting and fun, while Ralph's is about keeping the fire lit. The boys declare their allegiance to Jack, but as thunder sounds and rain begins to fall, Ralph reminds them of their lack of shelter. In response, Jack encourages the boys to do the hunting dance that they developed.

With Roger acting as the pig, the boys begin to dance and chant in the midst of the thunderstorm. Acting out the hunt, the excitement grows and they work themselves into a frenzy. Roger rejoins them as a hunter and they form an empty circle. At that moment, Simon emerges from the forest, staggering, with the news of the man on the top of the mountain. He is pushed into the center of the circle, and in an fury the boys close in on Simon. Under attack, he makes his way to the edge of the rock and falls over, onto the sand. The group follow him down, continuing to attack, killing him. Once he is dead, they leave him at the edge of the ocean, and disperse. His blood stains the sand and at the same time, a wind picks up the man in the parachute and carries him out to see. That night, Simon's body is taken up by the water and carried away into the ocean.

Chapter Nine Analysis

This chapter provides the dramatic major climax for the novel. In it, the idea that the beast is an internal force rather than an external one is confirmed, and the trope that the impulse for violence can quickly grow out of control without a society in place to stop it is demonstrated in great detail.

Simon climbs to the top of the mountain and sees the unknown figure for what it is--a dead man in a parachute. Filled with new information, his immediate thought is to spread the news to the others, but his weak physical condition makes the process difficult. With determination, he heads for the boys and to his death. With tragic irony, the boys kill Simon, as if he were an incarnation of the beast, which they think is an animal. In fact, they are actually correct, for he is an incarnation of the beast, just as they all are, but they do not know that, and think he is just a substitute. He is the only one who understands the significance of what they do.

The power of mobs is demonstrated by the way that the excitement grows until it reaches a fever pitch. All that is needed is Jack starting the chant, which connects the boys to something primeval and dark. The weather reflects the move, with thunder and lightning augmenting the fear and violence the boys feel. They all join in the chant and are equally aware of the dangerous situation they are developing. They create an atmosphere of tension, which eventually needs to be released. Roger and Jack drive them on, and the darkness builds until the climax in which Simon emerges from the jungle and is brought into the circle. The fact that the boys hear Simon's cries about the man in the parachute shows that they have not lost all consciousness of their actions, and yet proceed. Simon's blood is on everyone's hands. The theme that savagery is within everyone reaches its fullest articulation as the boys mob Simon.

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