It is the first novel of William Golding which was published on 17th September 1954. This novel is chiefly known as an allegorical novel. One of the most striking features of allegorical novel is that it is symbolical. The characters portrayed in this novel stands like a symbol and they represent several things. In this novel we can find British school boys who found themselves on an isolated Island because of an accident. This novel is a kind of record of their survival. We will also find the wild and natural instincts of human beings in this novel. In this novel we are made aware that freedom is a derogatory term. Restrictions are essential to make us human otherwise there will hardly be anything left which we can say humane.
- Ralph– he is a twelve year old child who is the protagonist of this novel. His thinking is rational and he leads the group of children.
- Piggy– he is the friend of Ralph who is a little bit healthy but intellectually he supersedes all the children of his group. He suffers from Asthma.
- Jack– he is also a leader who acts in the whole novel as an opponent of Ralph. Later in the novel he leads the hunter group. He is wild, cruel and sadistic in nature. He keeps enjoying the sadness of others.
- Simon– he is shy and sensitive in nature. He is kind hearted and critics have compared him to Jesus Christ for his kindness.
- Roger– he is the friend of jack who has similar traits. That is to say he is cruel, wild and sadistic. In the novel we find that he kills Piggy at the last.
Summary and Critical analysis.
William Golding has written this novel beautifully. We get references of World War II in this novel. In fact we find war time setting of this novel. A plane is evacuating school boys but it crashes near an isolated island. All the passengers of this plane are school going boys. They all survive in the plane crash. There is no any elder person with them. These boys keep themselves divided in two groups namely The Littluns and The Biguns. In The Littluns there are children up to six years of age whereas in The Biguns there are children from ten to twelve years of age. As these children are from British Culture so they try to establish similar culture in their groups. Ralph and Piggy find a conch shell on the island which they use to call other boys. Ralph is a kind of boy who thinks positive all the time. He thinks that one day all of them will return to their homes. Piggy is more rational and he says to Ralph that they need to plan so that they can survive on this isolated island. Ralph summons all the boys and it is interesting to find that he is elected as the leader of the group. Some boys do not support Ralph and it is decided that another group needs to be created which will be known by the name of hunter’s group. Jack is summoned to lead this hunter’s group. It was the responsibility of the hunters group to provide or arrange food for all the boys. Ralph as a leader makes certain rules associated with housing and planning. He also makes a rule that it was necessary to maintain a signal fire so that men and other passerby might notice them on the island and it might help them to return their homes safely. On the island there are fruits or pigs to eat and survive. Arrangements are made to gather woods to cook food. They ignite fire using the specs of Piggy. In group Piggy is envied by other boys because he is a close friend of Ralph and he is a little bit healthier. He is treated like an outcaste by other boys. Simon remains busy in supervising the works of Shelter on the island. He feels that Littluns need extra care and protection. Rules were made but not followed. Signal fire was created but not maintained as a result fire spread in the whole forest and a child from the group of Littluns was missing. A rumor makes the boys scared that there is a beast on the island. Ralph and other elders of the group makes the Littluns believe that there is no beast on the Island. In order to prove himself superior then Ralph the other leader Jack tells that if there is any beast on the Island then he will kill the beast. Jack is not satisfied by being the leader of the hunters group. He wants to replace Ralph by himself. There is a continuous struggle between Ralph and Jack regarding leadership on the Island. Jack has started increasing his followers. It is the human tendency that we keep on inclining towards evil. It is reflected by the children. Jack plans to go for hunting and other children follow him. At this time nobody gives attention to the fire signal. A ship passes the Island without noticing the fire signal. When Ralph and Piggy knows this incident then they become angry and they go to search Jack. They find Jack dancing with his followers. They are celebrating their first hunt. Piggy criticizes Jack and in return Jack hits piggy and breaks one lens of his specs. Ralph feels disappointed and thinks that if nobody is ready to follow his commands then he should resign from his position of leadership. Piggy says him not to resign and he finally decides not to resign. He arranges a meeting of all the boys by playing conch shell. In the meeting he tells the boys about the value of law and order. At one night, an aerial battle starts as it is the time of world war. All the boys are sleeping on the Island so nobody witnessed the battle. Fire signal was also not maintained. It was the duty of twin brothers Sam and Eric to maintain the signal fire at that night. They were also sleeping. A soldier lands at the Island by opening his parachute and dies in the process of landing. He keeps on hanging on a tree. When Sam and Eric awake they find the parachute and the soldier. They think that it was beast who was trying to attack them. They come to their group and inform them about this beast. Ralph and Jack go to the site to check the reality of the beast. When they see the parachute swinging on the tree then they think that there is something unusual. They come back in their group and tell them about the incident. Jack takes the benefit of the situation and tells the boys that Ralph was incapable to handle the situation. He tells them to choose him as their leader but he fails to gain the attention of the group. As a result he feels insulted and he goes to other end of the Island to form his own tribe. Roger his friend follows him and other boys of the group also start following them. Golding has tried to show us the tendency of common men to follow the evil roots. Jack declares himself leader of the group and says that he will hunt a sow (female pig) and all the boys will celebrate soon. He soon hunts the sow and beheads it. He ties the head of the sow on a wooden log and makes it stand in the mid of the island. Flies start hovering around the wooden log. It seems that boys have performed a sacrificial ceremony by killing the female pig. They paint their face and hands and it seems that they have become a member of the tribe. They eat and dance but Simon is not feeling comfortable. He has a terrible vision where he finds that flies hovering around the beheaded pig are actually lord of the flies. He hallucinates that the beheaded pig is taking to him that beast is not present outside but actually beast is present inside the human beings. Simon faints by this vision and when he awakes he goes near the stone and the tree where the body of the soldier is lying. When Simon goes there he understands the situation. He understands that it is not a beast but a parachute and a dead body of a soldier. He comes to inform the boys that there is no beast but all the boys are busy in the mad dance including Ralph and Piggy. When these boys see that somebody is coming from a distance they misunderstood that beast is approaching them. in this misunderstanding Simon is killed by his own troops. Next morning when Ralph and Piggy understand the whole situation then they feel disappointed. It has been understood by Jack and his group that there are two powerful things on this island. One is the conch shell and the other is Piggy’s specs. Conch shell is used to call the meeting and specs are used to ignite the fire. Both these things are associated with power. This is the reason that they attack the camp of Ralph and snatch these powerful objects. Ralph feels alone because members of his group have started following Jack and his company. Ralph goes to meet Jack along with his team members including Piggy, Sam and Eric. He requests jack to return the specs of Piggy but Jack refuses. The twin brothers are captured and a fight starts between Ralph and Jack. Suddenly Roger kills Piggy by unrolling a boulder from a mountain. The conch shell is also destroyed in this incident. Ralph runs from there whereas Sam and Eric forcefully join the company of jack. Jack is searching Ralph to kill him. Suddenly Jack ignites fire in the nearby area thinking that Ralph will come out because of smoke and suffocation. It happens and Ralph comes out. He runs and suddenly he falls on the beach. When he stands to run again he finds a naval officer. All the boys reach there and they stop after seeing the naval officer. The officer asks Ralph that what has happened on the Island. Ralph starts crying and seeing him all the boys started crying…The novel ends here.
Important points to write in the Examination
- One of the most important themes of this novel is the dichotomy between Civilization and Savagery. Civilization is represented by Ralph whereas Jack represents Savagery.
- Individualism and community runs parallel in this novel. We can notice the role of individuality in a community. We can clearly find that Ralph represents community whereas jack always focuses on individuality.
- Questions related to evil and devil has been raised in this novel. We are easily attracted to evil because it is the innate quality of a human being. To control this nature we have raised civilizations and community.