Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies (deutscher Titel: Herr der Fliegen) ist ein gesellschaftskritischer Roman von William Golding.
- After an Air crash a group of British school boys finds itself left on an island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. There are no adults with them, the number of boys remains unknown, but there are the big ones and the little ones, ranging from the age of six up to twelve.
- In the very beginning a meeting is held, rules are made and the island is explored. The island is peaceful and fertile, no wild animals are to be seen, the weather is hot and pleasant with regular periods of rain.
- Soon quarrels over the leadership start: Ralph, the elected leader, is challenged by Jack, the leader of the choir-boys, which have become the hunters. They quarrel about the necessity of being rescued (keep a fire going), and about other priorities (hunting pigs or building shelter). They are only united by the common fear of a >beast<, which gives them nightmares and uneasy feelings.
- Eventually Jack splits off with his hunters, establishes a kind of tribe which develops its own savage and bloody hunting rituals.
- Fears of the >beast< are growing and a nightly encounter with the remains of a dead parachutist causes the group to fall apart and all democratic rules are neglected. Primitive rituals are established, the head of a pigs is set up on a stack (>Lord of the Flies<) and the heads and guts of all the killed pigs are sacrificed to this primitive idol. Two boys get killed: Simon, the outsider and philosopher of the group, and Piggy, the fat but intelligent adviser of the now powerless group-leader, Ralph. His glasses, without which he cannot survive, are stolen by the hunters and a desperate attempt to get them back leads to his death: he falls over a cliff.
- Ralph, the only remaining non-hunter is now hunted by the whole of the tribe, in the cause of the hunt the forest is set on fire - and just as Ralph`s situation seems to be hopeless, the long forgotten rescuers appear, attracted by the fire, unable to make sense out of the situation.
Message and Philosophy
- The novel is about human beings falling back into a primeval, savage state of existing, once the pressure of civilization and democracy has disappeared. The book is about the primitive and cruel nature of 'innocent' children, of man in general.
- The two leading characters in the novel represent two opposing principles: Ralph - and his adviser Piggy - represents the belief in rationality and democracy. Jack and his hunters represent the archaic instincts of primitive men. Thus two concepts of survival are exposed: Rational thinking and solidarity on the one hand, club-law and the survival of the fittest on the other hand. But rationality has no chance against the magic powers of primitive instincts.
- Thus the novel has a very pessimistic outlook, which is certainly rooted in the experience of the Second World War. The cruel nature of man has been shown. Furthermore, the characters on the island are children. They are not >innocent< at all, their games are cruel and bloody, once they are able to act on their own.
- Let`s compare with Daniel Defoe's >Robinson Crusoe<, a man who is left alone on an island.
- Robinson succeeds in building up a civilization of his own, preserving the values and standards of his original country. He cultivates the island, he educates a primitive savage even turning him into a good Christian, and he manages to enlarge his property. He brings civilization to an isolated spot in the wilderness. Thus he is not just an adventurer, but he is English and a Puritan, and a conqueror: The vanguard of the British Empire.
- Golding's characters act totally different: They expose the decline of the British Empire! Says the rescuing officer: "You`re all British, aren`t you?"
To make it short: The book is about
- the decline of humanity
- the brutal and primitive instincts of man
- the impossibility of keeping up democracy and civilization under extraordinary circumstances
- the powerlessness of knowledge and wisdom (SIMON)
- the end of the British Empire
- the fact that children are not to be considered innocent beings
Remember, it was written in the years after World War II.
CHAPTER I: The Sound of the Shell
After an air-crash a group of British schoolboys (aged between 6 and 12) finds itself on a lonely island in the Pacific. Ralph, a fair- haired and athletic boy and a fat boy with thick spectacles, soon called >Piggy< are exploring the place which appears to be fertile, peaceful and uninhabited. By blowing a conch Ralph manages to gather all the boys who have been scattered over the island, including a group of choir boys under the leadership of a tall boy named Jack. This choir approaches in military formation and dressed in black cloaks, the dress of the choir. Once they all have assembled they elect Ralph for their leader while Jack is named the leader of the >Hunters<. Then the whole island is explored.
SETTING: The Boys The Island -------- ---------- British schoolboys (from 6 to 12) fertile and peaceful, enough food like to play for everyone, tropical climate, innocent & cruel sunshine guaranteed, beaches, lagoon, no dangerous animals without any experience at all CHILDREN IN PARADIES? PROMISE OF FUN, HAPPINESS AND HARMONY?* But: The island is nevertheless an isolated and remote place The boys can be cruel and and pitiless, they are no natives and totally unfamiliar with situations like this they quarrel over the leadership, rivalry is disturbing the harmony * Robert Michael Ballantyne: The Coral Island (1858) Three boys between 10 and 14 years live happily together on a far away island, only cannibals and pirates disturb their harmony
CHAPTER II: Fire on the Mountain
After exploring the island one thing is clear: There are no other people on it, no adults to help or ask for help. As a consequence the CHILDREN have to act like GROWN-UPS to solve their problems: They start by establishing a democratic system, of which the conch is the instrument and the symbol, and with clearly defined rules:
RIGHTS DUTIES ----- ------ regular meetings stick to the rules (obedience) decisions made by all feel responsible free speech accept leadership and authority free elections discipline Which are the PROBLEMS that have to be solved: How to get rescued - FIRE on the mountain How to get food - Hunt for pigs What jobs are to be done? IS THERE A >BEAST<? WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? (Look at the end of the chapter) - they almost set the island on fire - the children don`t care about the right to speak - one boy is already missing - fear of the beast ==>THEY HAVE ALREADY LOST CONTROL (Piggy:"Like kids!")
CHAPTER III: Huts on the beach
Jack hunts pigs in the jungle but doesn`t succeed yet. Back again he and Ralph argue about the priorities: buldiding huts or hunting pigs? Ralph complains about the other boys who show no sense of responsibility. Simon steals away into the jungle where he has build himself a hideaway.
- - the majority of the children does not care about the situation
- - Jack has become bloodthirsty, i.e. civilization is crumbling
- - fears of a beast or something mysterious torture all of them (even the big ones)
- - Simon is different from the rest of the group, he has his own thoughts.
CHAPTER IV: Painted Faces and Long Hair
Life on the island is described: The rhythm, the slow swing from dawn to dusk and the strange illusions of colour and light at midday (63/4). The "littluns" slowly turn savage, play all day long, get dirty and filthy. Roger trows stones at Henry, but doesn`t dare to hit him (67): "the taboo of the old life". Jack appears with white and red clay and starts painting his face; he`s obsessed with the idea of hunting pigs. Behind the mask he can hide, and his personality seems to be changing (69). Suddenly there is a smoke on the water and Ralph spots a ship. But to his horror he has to realize that the hunters have let the fire go out (72/3). Then the hunters appear in solemn procession carrying a killed pig. The antagonism becomes obvious: Meat or rescue? An argument arises during which Piggy is beaten by Jack and his specs get damaged. Eventually Jack gives in, apologizes to Ralph, a new fire is lit and Ralph decides to call for a meeting.
Chapter V: Beast from Water
This is the beginning of the crisis: the rules aren`t respected anymore, the group splits into smaller groups, opposing factions and individuals. An open fight over the leadership has started, there is much hate (Jack vs Piggy) and irrational fears prevail: there must be a beast, but because we didn`t find it on the island, it must be coming out of the sea. The first steps into anarchy and club-law are made.
Chapter VI: Beast from Air
Chapter VII: Shadows and tall trees
Chapter VIII: Gift for the darkness
Jack calls in the assembly and by accusing Ralph of cowardice (140) he asks for the leadership but nobody votes against Ralph; Jack goes off alone. The remaining boys decide to forget about the fire on the mountain (BEAST) and light a new one on the beach.(143) Jack forms his own group of hunters. They kill a big sow and spike its head on a stick as sacrifice for the beast: The Lord of the Flies. Jack and his hunters (disguised as Red Indians make a raid on the others and announce a great feast with lots of meat. They succeed in attracting more boys. Simon, probably in fever or in expectation of an epileptic fit, converses with the pig`s head on the stick: It says there is no escape from the beast, because the beast is inside everyone and that`s why things are as they are.
Chapter I - VIII: A MID-NOVEL SUMMARY
_______________________________________________________________________ |How they started... the issues... What came out of it | ---------------------------------------------------------------------- well-educated British how to they turn into savages: school-boys get rescued superstitious, blood- who thirsty start organizing every- food and/or they forget about being day life on the island shelter rescued and built up a democratic Is there a club-law is ruling, system with equal rights >beast<? fights for leadership meetings, rules etc >survival of the fittest< primitive religion with hunting rites and sacrifices
PROTAGONISTS & ANTAGONISTS, HEROES, VILLAINS AND VICTIMS -------------------------------------------------------- THE LEADERS RALPH JACK ---- ----- ATHLETICALLY BUILT (10/11) "ugly without silliness"(p 21) fair-haired always associated with black things thinks slowly. step by step knows how to exploit childrens' fears depending on Piggy`s inspirations but also their need of fun and ad- venture feels responsible for the group lacks moral scruples shows trust in moral principles loves to exercise power worries about the welfare of the boys sense of competition but unable to accept defeat hides his vulnerability behind paint and mask THE VICTIMS PIGGY SIMON ---- ----- FAT, SHORT-SIGHTED suffering from occasional fits suffering from poor health outsider of the group grown old before his time a loner loyal to Ralph`s leadership shows a philosophical under- but standing of the beast inside man being the most unfit and but unable to communicate his intellectual child he cannot knowledge survive among the savages the prophet and the martyr
Chapter IX: A View to a Death
Simon finds out about the dead parachutist on the hill and returns to tell the others the truth about the >beast<. In the meanwhile the party is in progress, even Ralph and piggy eventually take part and enjoy the meat. It is Jack who is now in command of the situation and he behaves very much like a despotic chief of a primitive tribe. Ralph tries to challenge Jack`s position but the magic of the conch doesn`t work anymore. As darkness comes heavy thunder and lightning frighten the kids and Jack initiates a tribal pig-killing dance into the middle of which Simon stumbles out of the forest; he is mistaken for the >beast< and stabbed to death by the spears of the hunters.
Chapter X: The Shell and the Glasses
Test Nr x Form 10/11 (Chapter XII)