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

Sam, Eric and Piggy are the only boys with Ralph. They talk about Simon's death but none admits involvement.

Roger approaches Castle Rock, and is stopped by Robert, who tells Roger about a punishment Jack is giving to one of the boys. Roger joins the rest of the tribe; Jack is telling them that he is leading a hunting party. One boy asks if they killed the night before, which Jack denies.

Having trouble with their fire, Sam and Eric become depressed and complain that it is impossible to maintain the fire at all hours of the day. Ralph concedes and lets them leave the fire for the night.

They go to sleep, only to woken later in the night, by the entrance of several intruders from the other tribe. There is a fight, and the boys in the shelter attempt to defend themselves. When the others leave, Ralph finds out that Piggy's glasses have been stolen.

Detailed Summary

Ralph joins Piggy at the platform. They along with Sam and Eric are the only boys left. They consider Simon's death and despair over what to do. Piggy suggests Ralph call an assembly, but Ralph sees no benefit in doing so. Ralph returns to the subject of Simon's death, reiterating that they witnessed murder. Piggy insists that it was an accident, and that he and Ralph were on the outside of the circle. He encourages Ralph to forget about the incident.Sam and Eric return and the four of them uncomfortably discuss the feast and dance, but none admits involvement.

Roger approaches Castle Rock, and is stopped by Robert, who is guarding the entrance. They discuss Jack, complimenting him on his abilities as a chief. Robert mentions that Jack is planning to beat one of the boys for some unknown transgression. Roger joins the rest of the tribe, where Jack is addressing the group. He tells them that he is leading a hunting party and that those left behind to guard the gate must be careful of the outsiders as well as the beast. Someone asks if they did in fact kill, but Jack refuses to consider it. Another boy asks how they intend to light their fire, and Jack forms a plan to steal fire from the others.

Ralph, Piggy, Sam and Eric are gathered around their own pile of wood, trying to get it lit. They talk about things from their former lives that it would be nice to have. Having trouble with their fire, Sam and Eric become depressed and complain that it is impossible to maintain the fire at all hours of the day. Ralph concedes and lets them leave the fire for the night.

They go to sleep, only to woken later in the night, by the entrance of several intruders from the other tribe. There is a fight, and the boys in the shelter attempt to defend themselves. When the others leave, Ralph finds out that Piggy's glasses have been stolen.

Chapter Ten Analysis

The theme that no one is innocent is continued in this chapter, as Ralph, Piggy, Sam and Eric try not to acknowledge their being present at the murder, though they all know that they were. Even though they did not take an active part, they are all equally guilty. None of them is completely separate from the tragedy that unfolds, and they all experience some form of the frenzy that engulfs the entire group of boys. All four of them experience the safety that comes in being a part of the stronger group, and feel the violence within themselves.

Piggy attempts to ignore the night of Simon's death and explain it away, which demonstrates the way that civilization must somehow justify its actions in order to continue. Though it may recognize the tragedy that come from interruptions of its order, Piggy sees that to dwell on these horrible incidents is dangerous. This suggests that civilization has its own defense mechanisms to respond to instances of violence within its bounds. For Ralph, this is not an easy task because he cannot separate himself from the events that occurred. He saw firsthand what the beast can inspire people to do, and he is tormented by it.

The remorse and guilt that the four boys feel is juxtaposed with the response that Jack's tribe has the next day. Roger is openly complimentary of Jack's brutal style of ruling, and thinks about the way that authority can be maintained. When he joins the group, Jack is addressing them all and someone brings up the topic of the beast. It is clear that this boy doubts the innocence of the dance's effect, and wants some absolution from an authority figure. Though he is unable to use the word, he asks Jack if they killed it, which Jack denies. Each boy remembers the events on their own and though have the collective denial to salve their conscience, their individual memory continues to haunt them. Jack maintains their trust by uniting them against a common enemy, and distracts them by forming the plan to steal fire from Ralph and the others.

This plan proves to be the first stage in the final series of events that leads to Ralph becoming Jack's intended prey. Jack intends to steal burning branches from the boys fire, but when no fire is going, they are forced to steal Piggy's glasses, which proves to be a significant blow to Ralph's ability to survive.

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