Major Works Analysis Sheet - LOF

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Name: Peter Toma
Title: The Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Year of Publication: 1954
Author’s Brief Biography (noteworthy facts):
- Award-winning British novelist, writer & poet (b. Cornwall, England)
- Historical fiction genre
- Taught English, but left to join Royal Navy (1940)
- Served in WW2
Mother was suffragette (fought for women’s right to vote)
Bullied by peers in school’ attempted writing novel at 12 as creative outlet
Plot Summary (1-2 sentences): After being stranded on a deserted island, a group of English
schoolboys try to establish a semblance of order, but end up descending into tribalism and
savagery.
Key Characters (list, insert roles and relationships):
 Ralph: The “ego,” leader, and public face of the group who is elected chief at the
beginning of the story and is responsible for laying down rules and organizing group
projects. Ralph ends up building a strong relationship with Piggy, the latter acting as the
“brains” behind Ralph’s leadership, but also a very adversial relationship with Jack, who
views Ralph as someone who only talks instead of acting. Jack grows to view Ralph as
his primary rival, eventually usurping the leadership of the tribe from him and attempting
to hunt down and kill Ralph by the end of the book.
 Piggy: The “superego” and the “brains” of the group who, while otherwise introverted,
strikes up a friendship and working relationship with Ralph, who often defends Piggy
against abuse from the rest of the boys. Piggy also ends up in an adversial relationship
with Jack, who views Piggy as weak and a burden on the team. This relationship
culminates in Piggy being killed by one of Jack’s minions.
 Jack: The “id” of the group, a very aggressive and passionate choir leader who becomes
the chief hunter and the leader of most of the “bigguns.” His obsession with violence and
dissatisfaction with the leadership of the group leads him to descend into savagery and
form his own tribe, made up of the former choir boys-turned-hunters, and is either
directly or indirectly the instigator of the deaths of Simon and Piggy. He comes to view
Ralph as his greatest enemy, and attempts to hunt down and kill him at the climax of the
book.
 Simon: A kind-hearted boy who lives in harmony with nature, Simon is a loyal ally of
Ralph up until his death, when he is brutally killed by the tribe while trying to tell them the
truth about the Beast. He becomes a martyr in a similar way as many Christian saints.
 Sam and Eric (Samneric): Two identical twins who initially stay in the background as
assistants of the group, but are forcefully coerced into joining Jack’s tribe at the end.
They still refuse to hurt Ralph, however.
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Roger: A hunter who becomes infamous for his sadism, creating the trophy that is the
“Lord of the Flies” and eventually becoming Jack’s right-hand man.
The Beast/Lord of the Flies: An imagined creature that terrorizes the group and whose
supposed physical presence galvanizes Jack into launching his coup against Ralph.
However, it is discovered by Simon that the Beast, or “Lord of the Flies,” is actually a
product of mankind’s inner darkness and hatred.
Character development:
While Ralph and Simon retain the same, mostly benevolent, character throughout the novel,
Jack and Piggy undergo a similar character change. Both end up succumbing to their
emotionality. Jack embraces his inner anger and becomes a quasi-fascist tyrant, while Piggy
loses his composure as a result of Jack’s actions and ends up antagonizing Jack’s tribe,
causing his death. Samneric initially remain loyal to Ralph, but end up breaking as a result of
Jack’s forced capture of them and join Jack’s tribe, even ratting out Ralph’s hiding spot out of
fear of Jack. The other “bigguns” end up succumbing to fear and groupthink and join Jack’s tribe
as savages.
Notable quotes (Page #, explain significance):
 “Then we’ll have to look after ourselves” (page 21). After discovering that all the adults
accompanying them have died, the boys decide to form their own “government,” which
becomes the source of much of the conflict in the book.
 “I ought to be chief” (page 22). This foreshadows Jack’s rise to power and coup of Ralph
in chapter 9.
 “A snake-thing, ever so big, he saw it” (page 35). This is the first mention of the Beast, a
concept that results in Jack taking over leadership of the tribe.
 “We must make a fire” (page 38). The need for fire, by both the civilized boys and the
savages, is a central conflict of the book.
 “Acting like a crowd of kids” (page 38). This comment from Piggy foreshadows the future
groupthink that leads to Jack taking over.
 “”A fat lot you tried,” said Jack contemptuously. “You just sat”” (page 42). This is the first
manifestation of Jack’s hatred of Piggy which partially leads to him forming his own tribe.
 “I was talking about smoke! Don’t you want to be rescued? All you can talk about is pig,
pig, pig!” (page 54). This shows what drives a rift between Jack’s leadership and
Ralph’s.
 ”Roger’s arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins”
(page 62). This exemplifies the conflict between mankind’s inner nature and the norms
of society.
 “[Jack] looked in astonishment, no longer at himself but at an awesome stranger” (page
63). This is the beginning of Jack’s transformation into a savage.
 “They let the bloody fire go out” (page 68). This begins the dereliction of the hunters’
duties in exchange for savagery.
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“Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood” (page 69). This phrase is the catchphrase of
the savages in the book.
“Jack stood up as he said this, the bloodied knife in his hand. The two boys faced each
other. There was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill; and there
was the world of longing and baffled common-sense” (page 71). This is another
manifestation of the rivalry between Jack and Ralph.
"Bollocks to the rules! We're strong — we hunt! If there's a beast, we'll hunt it down!
We'll close in and beat and beat and beat — " (page 91). This fascistic mentality enables
Jack’s rise to power.
[Jack] can't hurt you: but if you're standing out of the way he'd hurt the next thing. And
that's [Piggy]" (page 93). This foreshadows Piggy’s death at the hands of Jack’s tribe.
“However Simon thought of the beast, there rose before his inward sight the picture of a
human at once heroic and sick” (page 103). This underlies Golding’s message about the
evil of mankind.
Symbolism
Island: The Island represents the rawness and purity of nature, a sort of “Garden of Eden.”
Scar: The Scar is a manifestation of man’s corruption of nature.
Sea: The sea is a mechanism of baptism and purification, but also of the unlimited power of the
Id.
Fire: The fire is a manifestation of mankind’s dual nature: it is an instrument both of civilization
and savagery, as it is embraced both by Ralph for rescue and Jack as a method of rooting out
Ralph from his hiding spot.
Conch: the conch is a symbol of authority and norms that make up civilization. Its tarnishing and
eventual destruction is a symbol of the group’s decline into savagery.
Themes
The most pervasive theme in the Lord of the Flies is the conflict between mankind’s inner
darkness and the rules and norms that society lays down to restrain it. The story also examines
how fear of the other and “peer pressure”/groupthink can lead to the rise of authoritarianism in a
similar way to the rise of facism in the prelude to WW2, and how mankind’s savagery ends up
despoiling nature, not integrating itself into nature, a vision awfully different from the stock
“noble savage” character in many fictional works.
M.O.W.A.W (meaning of the work as a whole):
The rise of a barbarism similar to fascism is not a historical oddity, but instead is a result of
mankind’s inner darkness, to whom this barbarism appeals to by turning the collective nature of
society against its values, rules, and conventions.
Other “drill bits” (insert sketchnotes, hashtags, triggers to remember key points):
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