Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

Section One

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Contents (click to go straight to each chapter)


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three


Unit introduction

In this unit we will be looking at the novel Lord of the Flies written by William Golding.

There are three presentations in this unit and in each you will be completing a variety of activities to develop your knowledge and understanding of the characters, themes

and language of the text.


Historical and political background

Lord of the Flies was written in the early 1950s. Do you know anything about this period?

In the early 1950s Britain was living in in the aftermath of World War II. Following the war, the full extent of the

horrific Nazi regime was being revealed.

This was a time of political unrest – the USSR and the

Western powers were engaged in The Cold War. This war (called a ‘cold’ war because there was no direct fighting)

started because of a fear of the communist USSR

dominating all of Eastern Europe and developing nuclear weaponry.


Name: William Golding

Dates: Born in 1911 in Cornwall, England. Died in 1993.

Career: Published a book of poetry in 1934 and went on to work as a schoolmaster and then serve in the Royal Navy

during World War II. Following the war, Golding began writing again and Lord of the Flies, his first novel, was published in 1954.

Golding wrote twelve other novels, and a play. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988, and was knighted in 1983.


Having witnessed the true horrors of war, Golding lost faith in the idea that humans are inherently good and innocent. He believed that even children could be evil and thought:

Wouldn’t it be a good idea to write a story about some

boys on an island showing how they would really behave, being boys and not

little saints as they usually are in children’s novels.

Based on Golding’s idea for Lord of the Flies, what do you predict might happen in the novel?


• There is a queen in England.

• The enemy are the “Reds”.

• Nuclear war has destroyed much of the world.

• They are on a tropical island with a coral base so it is probably in the Indian or Pacific oceans.

Are we told anything else about the setting?


From reading Chapter One, what do we know about where

and when Lord of the Flies is set?

We are not told anything specific about the place and time of year in which events of the story happen.



Golding does not provide a map for his readers to show us what the island is like. We learn about the setting as the boys move about the island exploring their new


Draw your own map of the island, adding on all the


Ralph and Piggy

Ralph and Piggy are the first people we meet in the novel and are very different in background and character.

We can see this in their contrasting reactions to being stranded on the island:

‘…the delight of a realised ambition overcame him…“No grown-ups!”’

Ralph’s excitement suggests he is

adventurous and fearless

‘ “They’re all dead,” said Piggy, “an’ this is an island. Nobody don’t know we’re here. Your dad don’t know, nobody don’t know…’’’

Piggy repeats himself, indicating he is very


Now select two more quotes which show us Piggy and Ralph’s feelings about their situation.


Ralph profile



Relationships with others


Tall, blonde hair, athletic.


seems to be a good leader.

Father a

Naval officer. Piggy and others look up to


Piggy profile



Relationships with others

Character Fat, asthmatic and short-sighted. Orphan, lives with aunt. Different accent to others. Intelligent and sensible – teaches Ralph how to blow the conch, suggests making a list

of names.



• It is a technique of suggesting to the reader that something will happen later in the story.

• This is usually something bad, and therefore

foreshadowing creates a sense of tension and anticipation.

‘He snatched his knife out of the sheath and slammed it into a tree trunk. Next time there would be no

mercy. He looked round fiercely, daring them to contradict.’

• What does this tell us about Jack?

• What could this event be foreshadowing?

What is foreshadowing?


Jack profile


Background Relationships with others


Leader of the choir boys. Thin, red hair

and freckles, mean


Dominates the choir. Likes

Ralph but takes an immediate dislike to Piggy.


• Why do the boys choose him?

• Would Jack or Piggy make better leaders?

What qualities do you think a good leader should have?

Choosing a leader

Now you can cast your vote!



• What is Piggy’s attitude towards the behaviour of the other boys?

• What do you think his role will be on the island?

Piggy is established as something of an outsider because of his appearance and sensible outlook.

‘Acting like a crowd of kids!’

By Chapter Two we can already see tensions developing between the boys, particularly Jack and Piggy.


The beast

It is in Chapter Two that we first hear of the beast.

Read again the passage which begins ‘He wants to know what you’re going to do about the snake-thing’ and ends

‘The assembly was silent.’

Do you think a beast really exists?

On the next slide match the characters to their reactions when they are told of

the beast, and consider what their reactions


The conch

In Chapter One Ralph blows the conch to bring everyone

together. In Chapter Two he decides that anyone who wishes to speak in assembly must first be holding the conch:

Because of its two important functions

on the island, the conch is more than simply just a shell. As the item which is used to call assembly and determine who can speak, the conch is powerful. It is symbolic of

authority and democracy on the island.

‘ “I’ll give the conch to the next person

to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking…And he won’t be interrupted.”’



A democracy is a society in which everyone is entitled to a say, and decisions are reached by majority rule.

Fairness and freedom of speech are key aspects of a democracy.

• Would you say that the ‘society’ on the island is a democratic society?

• If Jack had been voted as leader, do you think he would try to rule the island in a fair and democratic way?

Think about Ralph’s decisions as chief, and the way in which he was elected as leader in the first place.



In Chapter One, Ralph examines his surroundings:

What impression of the island do you get from this description?

The shore was fledged with palm trees. These stood or leaned or reclined against the light and their green feathers

were a hundred feet up in the air…The lagoon was still as a mountain lake – blue of all shades and shadowy green

and purple.

Imagery is used to

create picture in the reader’s head of a beautiful island, full of many colours.

A metaphor is used to make us

think of the leaves as light and soft.

Simile is used to emphasize

just how calm and serene the lagoon is.



In Chapter One we get an impression of the island as

beautiful and calm, but there is also a dark side to the island. This is suggested in Chapter Two by the possible presence of a beast on the island and also by the raging fire.

Here is part of Golding’s description of the fire:

• Can you identify the language devices that Golding has used here?

• What is the effect of Golding describing the fire in this way?

‘Small flames stirred at the bole of a tree and crawled away



Jack and Ralph have very different priorities and are both strong minded characters who fight to get their points


Who do you agree with? Should the fire and shelter really be the main priority as Ralph says, or is hunting and having fun just as important, as Jack believes?

Up to this point in the story, do you think Ralph has been a successful leader?

Think of three strengths and three

weaknesses of Ralph’s leadership so far. Use evidence from the


Ralph’s strengths and weaknesses



Tries to be fair and

democratic, for example when he made Jack

leader of the hunters.

Responsible – remains focused on the rescue mission.

Often struggles to make decisions and needs Piggy’s help.

Sometimes loses his

temper. As the leader he should remain calm.

Works hard – is building shelters for everyone.

Single-minded – ignores the importance of hunting because he is so



Ralph and Jack clash over most things but do seem to agree over their opinion of Simon, whom they deem “funny”.

What are your impressions of Simon from

Chapter Three? Do you agree with Ralph and Jack that he is strange?

Look again at the description of Simon in his secret den in the jungle. How does Simon’s attitude towards nature differ to that of the other boys?

Golding’s description of Simon’s den is effective because it appeals to a number of senses,

enabling the reader to really picture the scene.


Simon profile


Background Relationships with others


Kind and helpful. Introverted –

doesn’t like to speak in

assemblies. Likes nature.

Loyal towards Piggy and Ralph. Looked on as strange by the other boys.

Small, physically frail, black hair and bright eyes.



• What does this passage tell us about the character of Roger?

• Why does Roger not actually intend to hit Henry?

Read again from ‘Roger stooped, picked up a stone and threw it at Henry’ to ‘Then Henry lost interest in stones…’.


Roger profile


Background Relationships with others


Is a choirboy. Quiet and secretive.

Cruel – enjoys picking on the littluns.

Black hair, gloomy face.


• In this chapter we again see Ralph and Jack in conflict with one another. Why does this happen?

• How does Simon come to Piggy’s aid in this chapter? What do his actions reveal about him?

• How does Jack feel about having killed the pig? Is it purely excitement and pride he feels?


The title of Chapter Four – ‘Painted Faces and Long Hair’ is a reference to the way the appearances of the boys

have altered since they have been on the island.

Changing appearances

• In what ways do the boys look different to when they first arrived on the island?

• How does he feel when he wears his ‘mask’?

• How do the changes in Jack’s physical appearance reflect his character?