Suggested Essay Topics
Chapter 1: “The Sound of the Shell”
1. Examine the characters of Ralph, Jack, or Piggy in terms of what they possess that link them with their past lives, and what their emerging roles on the island are. Is there any indication which of these characters may be advancing more rapidly toward savagery than the others? Support your conclusion.
2. What is the symbolism of the conch? Why does it seem to have so much power? What characteristics does it have in common with what it appears to symbolize?
Chapter 2: “Fire on the Mountain”
1. What is the significance of the boys’ first attempt at the fire? How does the result foreshadow events to come? What is the result of the fire? Why are the creeper vines significant? How does the fire’s result mirror the boy with the mulberry-colored birthmark’s fear?
2. What is the meaning of the beast that makes its first appearance in this chapter? Discuss how it is portrayed, and the others’ reaction to it. Does this foreshadow its later significance? How does the beast become real to the boys?
Chapter 3: “Huts on the Beach”
1. Trace the path of Jack’s success as a hunter and Ralph’s
growing ineffectiveness as a leader. Compare their emerging viewpoints in their argument together on the beach. What does this say about the two boys and their roles as civilized young men?
2. What divisions are becoming apparent among the boys on the island? Trace the characters and who they are allied to at this point. Discuss these alliances and why they are occurring.
Chapter 4: “Painted Faces and Long Hair”
1. Examine Simon’s actions in this chapter and compare them to Roger’s. Both boys are outsiders like Piggy, yet seem to be accepted. Based upon these observations, present an argument for whom they will eventually ally themselves and explain why.
2. What is the significance of the camouflage paint that Jack puts on? How does it affect his personality? Why will it make him a better hunter? In what ways does it hide his personality? In what ways does it reveal his personality? Discuss its symbolic meaning as well as the others’ reactions to it.
Chapter 5: “Beast From Water”
1. Trace the references to the beast in the novel thus far. Parallel that with the diminishing sense of order on the island and the boys’ gradual embracing of Jack’s savagery. What is the true nature of the beast on the island that Simon is unable to verbally define?
2. Discuss how and why Jack disrupts the meeting. What is at the core of the power struggle between he and Ralph? What techniques of anarchy and...
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