Study Guide

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

Lord of the Flies Quotes

Essential Quotes

Essential Passage by Character: Piggy

Piggy wore the remainders of a pair of shorts, his fat body was golden brown, and the glasses still flashed when he looked at anything. He was the only boy on the island whose hair never seemed to grow. The rest were shock-headed, but Piggy's hair lay in wisps over his head as though baldness were his natural state and this imperfect covering would soon go, like the velvet on a young stag's antlers.

"I've been thinking," he said, "about a clock. We could make a sundial. We could put a stick in the sand, and then—"

The effort to express the mathematical processes involved was too great. He made a few passes instead.

"And an airplane, and a TV set," said Ralph sourly, "and a steam engine."

Piggy shook his head.

"You have to have a lot of metal for that," he said, "and we haven't got no metal. But we got a stick."

Ralph turned and smiled involuntarily. Piggy was a bore; his fat, his ass-mar, and his matter-of-fact ideas were dull, but there was always a little pleasure to be got out of pulling his leg, even if one did it by accident.

Lord of the Flies, Chapter 4, pp. 53-54 (Penguin: New York)

Summary
The boys have been on the island for some time now, long enough for their hair to become long and their clothes to become tattered. They have adjusted somewhat to their new life of survival, yet there are many things left undone. Boredom is setting in, preventing them from continuing to build stable shelters and to provide adequately for the basic needs of a healthy society. Rudimentary huts provide some protection from the elements. Fruit and occasional seafood are the staples of their diet. The camp is divided into two main groups: food and fire. Jack and the hunters focus on being the providers, always hoping to catch a pig. Ralph and Piggy endeavor to keep the signal fire lit, the hope of rescue uppermost in their minds.

Piggy is noted as being the only one whose hair has not grown. He remains the same as when the boys first arrived on the island. Although his clothes are in tatters and he has lost the pallor of the sheltered British school boy, his appearance has not drastically altered, as opposed to the other boys.

Piggy, seemingly affected by the same apathy that has infected so many of the boys, appears to be “mooning about,” examining objects, tossing them away. In reality he is, as always, thinking—thinking of ways in which he can make their environment more civilized.

As Ralph comes to join him, Piggy announces that he has been thinking of making a sundial, which would allow them to keep track of the passage of time throughout the day. He has difficulty explaining the process to Ralph, who is unable to understand the workings of Piggy’s mind in such a scientific project.

Indeed, Ralph is contemptuous of the idea. He suggests making an airplane or a television, perhaps even a steam engine. Piggy misses, or...

(The entire section is 1253 words.)

Essential Passage by Theme: Inherent Evil

"Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!" said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. "You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are the way they are?"

The laughter shivered again.

"Come now," said the Lord of the Flies. "Get back to the others and we'll forget the whole thing."

Simon's head wobbled. His eyes were half closed as if he were imitating the obscene thing on the stick. He knew that one of his times was coming on. Te Lord of the Flies was expanding like a balloon.

"This is ridiculous. You know perfectly well you’ll only meet me down there—so don’t try to escape!”

Lord of the Flies, Chapter 8, p. 128 (Penguin: New York)

Summary
Jack and his hunters have killed a nursing sow. Although the pig in such a condition was essentially helpless, the boys feel victorious and brave in their prowess. As their descent from civilization to savagery advances, they succumb to tribal celebration by dancing over their kill. Rather than just taking the meat for food, they glory in this act as a prehistoric ritual of “appeasing the gods.” Severing the sow’s head, they impale it on a sharpened spear and set it up as an offering to the “Lord of the Flies.”

Hidden among the bushes is Simon, the resident “mystic.” He does not participate in this ritual but observes it with great interest. Even after the boys have left with their prize, Simon remains in his shelter. He sees the head as well as the entrails covered with flies.

Simon is subject to epileptic fits, something which keeps him on the fringes of the other boys. As he observes the head of the Lord of the Flies, he falls into a trance and imagines the head speaking to him, reminiscent of Jesus’s temptation by Satan in the wilderness. The Lord of the Flies calls him an “ignorant, silly little boy.” He belittles Simon in an effort to destroy his position as a self-choosing human being. He reminds Simon of his alienation from the others and threatens that even his standing with Ralph and Piggy is in jeopardy.

Simon is unable to respond to the voice. The Lord of the Flies confronts him, “Aren’t you afraid of me?” Simon denies this, stating at last that he is nothing more than a “pig’s head on a stick.”

The Lord of the Flies switches tactics, saying, “Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!” He reveals his true self to Simon, who has known all along that the Beast was part of each one of them. As the Lord of the Flies says, he...

(The entire section is 1151 words.)

Ed. Scott Locklear, Michael Foster