Chapters 1-3 of Lord of the Flies serve to introduce the characters, themes, and conflicts of Golding's novel.
- Chapter One
Then the creature stepped from mirage on to clear sand, and they saw that the darkness was not all shadow but mostly clothing. The creature was a party of boys, marching approximately in step in two parallel lines and dressed in strangely eccentric clothing.
This passage exemplifies the theme of "Appearance vs. Reality" and presages the boys' further problems with perception in the novel as their unconscious fears conjure beasts and cause them to commit irrational and savage acts.
They knew very well why he hadn't: because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood. "I was going to," said Jack. He was ahead of them, and they could not see his face. "I was choosing a place. Next time--!"
This passage is significant in developing the characterization of Jack as initially a civilized boy who will later descend into savagery. As a screaming pig comes near Jack and he has his knife posed for attack, he fails to strike at the pig. The boys know that Jack has not done so because he has contemplated the brutality of such an act; at this point he is too civilized. But, he vows that the next time he will not hesitate.
- Chapter Two
"We want to be rescued; and of course we shall be rescued....the Queen's got a picture of this island.
And sooner or later a ship will put in here. It might even be Daddy's ship. So you see, sooner or later, we shall be rescued."
....The assembly was lifted toward safety by his words....Ralph flushed, looking sideways at Piggy's open admiration, and then the other way at Jack who was smirking....
This passage, which develops the characterization of Ralph, exemplifies Ralph's natural leadership qualities. Although his statement that they will be rescued is not supported with any evidence, he still inspires confidence in the boys, although Jack's smirk suggests problems may follow.
- Chapter Three
They faced each other on the bright beach, astonished at the rub of feeling. Ralph looked away first, pretending interest in a group of littluns on the sand. From beyond the platform came the shouting of the hunters in the swimming pool. On the end of the platform, Piggy was lying flat, looking down into the brilliant water.
"People don't help much."
He wanted to explain how people were never quite what you thought they were.
This passage is significant in the further development of the characters of Piggy, Ralph and Jack as well as being an introduction of the personal conflicts between Ralph and Jack, whereas in the previous chapters they have gotten along fairly well. Now, however, Jack begins to want to spend his time actively hunting rather than helping other construct shelters.
In addition, this passage also exemplifies the theme of "Appearances vs. Reality" with Piggy's wish to tell Ralph that Jack is not who Ralph thinks he is.