Please describe what is happening to the littluns, especially at night, in chapter three of Lord of the Flies, by William Golding.

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The boys in Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, are all used to living away from home because they were attending boarding schools, and perhaps things were fine for the first few nights on the island. By chapter three of the novel, however, none of the boys are sleeping peacefully at night, especially the littluns. 

All Jack wants to do is hunt, but Ralph tries to convince him of their need for shelters. He starts with a practical reason, that they will need shelters if it ever rains; then he moves to a more uncomfortable subject.

“You’ve noticed, haven’t you?” Jack put down his spear and squatted. “Noticed what?” “Well. They’re frightened.” He rolled over and peered into Jack’s fierce, dirty face. “I mean the way things are. They dream. You can hear ’em. Have you been awake at night?” Jack shook his head. “They talk and scream. The littluns. Even some of the others. As if—”

“As if it wasn’t a good island.”
Astonished at the interruption, they looked up at Simon’s serious face. “As if,” said Simon, “the beastie, the beastie or the snake-thing, was real. Remember?”
The two older boys flinched when they heard the shameful syllable.
Snakes were not mentioned now, were not mentionable.
“As if this wasn’t a good island,” said Ralph slowly. “Yes, that’s right.”
Jack sat up and stretched out his legs. “They’re batty.”
“Crackers...." Ralph went on. “So we need shelters as a sort of—”


“That’s right.”

It is clear that all the boys are struggling with nightmares about the imagined terrors of the island, including the existence of a beast. While the littluns do seem to be suffering the worst, Ralph, Simon, and Jack have obviously not been sleeping well because they have noticed what the younger boys are experiencing. 

As they talk about the need for shelters, the three boys all recognize that something must be done, and Ralph is hopeful that sleeping under a sturdy shelter will help them all sleep better, as if they were in the safety and protection of "home." 

Unfortunately, only one shelter is built very well, and even if the boys had been able to sleep in a wonderful hut, they would not be sleeping well because it is not the shelters--or lack of shelters--which is giving them nightmares. It is the certain knowledge, as evidenced by their subconscious minds during sleep that, "the way things are," this is not a "good island." 

Read the study guide:
Lord of the Flies

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question