In Lord of the Flies, Chapters 1-3 , how do the boys set up the island as civilization? 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The boys establish a model of civilization by first creating a hierarchy and, later, by organizing groups of boys who are assigned various duties.

The fact that Ralph's father is an officer in the military suggests that the boy's home life has most likely been structured. When Ralph takes the shell from Piggy and water runs from it, Ralph notices a hole. He then inspects the shell. It dawns on Piggy that Ralph is thinking of using this conch. When Ralph says, "we can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They'll come when they hear us" Piggy brightens. Piggy then asks, "That's why you got the conch out of the water?" (Ch.1). Ralph's only response is to have Piggy explain how his friend blew his conch. 

After Jack Merridew and the boys of the choir respond to the call of the conch, Ralph recognizes Jack as having "the voice of one who knew his own mind." Jack, in fact, starts to take the lead by saying, "We've got to decide about being rescued"(Ch.1). Ralph suggests that there should be a chief to decide things. This suggestion prompts Jack to suggest that he be chief because he is already the head boy of the choir. When "the dark boy," Roger, speaks up and calls for a vote, the boys raise their hands for the leader they want. The majority chooses Ralph because of his appealing appearance and because he holds the conch. Only the boys in the choir have voted for Jack, and their votes have been cast out of "dreary obedience."

Later, areas are designated as latrines, places are marked for where shelters can be made, and an elevated area is established for the very important signal fire. The boys survey the island to learn what is available to eat and what can be used. Ralph points to "a platform of forest" and remarks, "down there we could get as much wood as we want." Not to be outdone in leadership, Jack later insists, "we'll have rules! . . . Lots of rules! Then when anyone breaks 'em." He wants rules so that he can punish any who break them. On the other hand, Ralph tries to reassure the boys that there are no beasts and that all the islands have been discovered. His father, who is in the Navy, has told him that there is a map belonging to the Queen on which every island is named.

Piggy is the counselor, the voice of reason. When the boys start the first signal fire, it gets out of control. After seeing the devastation caused by the wildire, the boys fall silent; Piggy scolds them, telling them that they must "put first things first and act proper." They must not run off without working on the shelters, they must be careful about setting fires, and they must give Ralph time to think. However, when Ralph asks for the list of names of all the boys on the island, Piggy tells him that he has not had the time to compile it. Nevertheless, they realize a boy who had a birthmark on his face is missing.

With the discovery of pigs on the island, Jack designates himself and his choir as the "hunters," who are now exempt from working on the shelters. Ralph then tries to explain to Jack the importance of the shelters, which includes not just protection from the rain, but a safe place for the boys to hide from their fears of the unknown. Simon intervenes because he intuitively understands that superstition needs to be countered by civilization.

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first symbol of civilization is the conch shell that Ralph and Piggy found on the island. They used the shell to locate the other survivors and also to establish a system of leadership and authority. During their meetings the individual in possession of the conch would be allowed to speak as the rest listened. The system worked initially by establishing a civil community where each member had an opportunity to be heard. The boys also voted for a leader with Ralph being elected because of his demeanor, physical attributes and because he was the one who summoned all of them.

“We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They’ll come when they hear us—”

“Him with the shell.”

“Ralph! Ralph!”

“Let him be chief with the trumpet-thing.”

Ralph raised a hand for silence.

The boys also assigned responsibilities to different groups to ensure they had food and shelter. Ralph led those who were in charge of building the shelters while Jack led the hunters who were responsible for providing food for the community. They also built a signal fire and made Jack and the hunters responsible for keeping it burning so they could be rescued when the chance presented itself.

“We’ve got to have special people for looking after the fire. Any day there may be a ship out there“–he waved his arm at the taut wire of the horizon–“and if we have a signal going they’ll come and take us off.”

“If it rains like when we dropped in we’ll need shelters all right.”

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Initially, the boys attempt to set up a civilized society by holding an assembly and voting for a chief. After Ralph is elected chief, several boys explore the island before returning to the group. When Ralph addresses the group, he mentions the need to have a set of rules. Ralph then creates the rule that whoever is speaking during the assemblies must hold the conch. He does this in order to prevent the boys from talking over one another. He then instructs the boys to build a signal fire at the top of the mountain, which will notify passing ships that they need to be rescued.

In chapter 3, the boys attempt to build three huts on the beach. Unfortunately, all of the boys only work on the first hut and leave Ralph and Simon to work on the other two shelters, which are lopsided and unstable. When Jack gets back from hunting, Ralph gets into an argument with him over the importance of building shelters and maintaining a signal fire. In response, Jack argues that hunting should be the primary focus of the group. At this point in the novel, Golding depicts how the boys' attempt at creating a civilized society is gradually failing. Their initial signal fire is a disaster, and the boys begin neglecting their responsibilities by chapter 3. The three huts also symbolize the decaying civility and organization on the island. 

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Lord of the Flies

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