I've always wondered, since the "atomic bomb" is mentioned a few times, was it a nuclear war taking place?
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Yes. The general belief is that many of the boys' parents are already dead. Pay attention to Piggy's comments in chapter one.
Later, when the pilot falls, he is referred to as a sign from an adult world "that knew nothing of them [the boys] and was in ruin." (I hope I quoted that correctly.)