Lord of the Flies

Plot

In the midst of a wartime evacuation, a British aeroplane crashes on or near an isolated island in a remote region of the Pacific Ocean. The only survivors are boys in their middle childhood or preadolescence. A fair-haired boy named Ralph and a fat boy named Piggy find a conch, which Ralph uses as a horn to convene the survivors to one area. Ralph immediately commands authority over the other boys using the conch, and is elected their "chief". He establishes three primary policies: to have fun, to survive, and to constantly maintain a smoke signal that could alert passing ships of their presence. Ralph joins a red-haired boy named Jack and a quiet boy named Simon in using Piggy's glasses to create a signal fire.

The semblance of order deteriorates as the majority of the boys turn idle, and ignore Ralph's efforts towards improving life on the island. They develop paranoia around an imaginary monster they call the "beast", which they all gradually believe exists on the island. Ralph fails to convince the boys that no beast exists, while Jack gains popularity by declaring that he will personally hunt and kill the monster. At one point, Jack summons many of the boys to hunt down a wild pig, drawing away those assigned to maintain the signal fire. The smoke signal goes out, failing to attract a ship that was passing by the island. Ralph angrily confronts Jack about his failure to maintain the signal, but he is rebuffed by the other boys. Disillusioned with his role as leader, Ralph considers relinquishing his job, but is persuaded not to do so by Piggy.

One night, an aerial battle occurs near the island while the boys sleep, during which a fighter pilot ejects from his plane and dies in the descent. His body drifts down to the island in his parachute and gets tangled in a tree. Twin boys Sam and Eric see the corpse of the pilot and mistake it for the beast. When Ralph, Jack, and a gloomy boy named Roger later investigate the corpse, they flee, incorrectly believing the beast is real. Jack calls an assembly and tries to turn the others against Ralph, but initially receives no support; he storms off alone to form his own tribe, with most of the other boys gradually joining him.

Simon often ventures out into the island's forest to be alone. One day while he is there, Jack and his followers erect an offering to the beast nearby: a pig's head, mounted on a sharpened stick and swarming with flies. Simon conducts an imaginary dialogue with the head, which he dubs the "Lord of the Flies". The head tells Simon that there is no beast on the island, and predicts that the other boys will turn on him. That night, Ralph and Piggy visit Jack's tribe, learning that they have begun painting their faces and engaging in primitive ritual dances. Simon discovers that the "beast" is the dead pilot, and rushes down to tell Jack's tribe. The frenzied boys, including Ralph and Piggy, mistake Simon for the beast and beat him to death.

Jack and his rebel band decide to steal Piggy’s glasses, the only means the boys have of starting a fire. They raid Ralph's camp, take the glasses, and return to their abode on an outcropping called Castle Rock. Deserted by most of his supporters, Ralph journeys to Castle Rock with Piggy, Sam, and Eric in order to confront Jack and retrieve the glasses. The boys reject Ralph, with Roger triggering a trap that kills Piggy and shatters the conch. Ralph manages to escape, but Sam and Eric are tortured by Roger until they agree to join Jack's tribe.

That night, Ralph secretly confronts Sam and Eric, who warn him that Jack plans to hunt him like a pig and decapitate him. The following morning, Jack's tribe sets fire to the forest, with Ralph narrowly escaping the hunters. Following a long chase, Ralph trips and falls in front of a uniformed adult – a British naval officer whose party has landed to investigate the fire. Ralph, Jack, and the other boys erupt into sobs over the "end of innocence". The officer expresses his disappointment at seeing the boys exhibiting such feral, warlike behaviour before turning to stare at his cruiser waiting offshore.


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