What is the major conflict and setting of The Lord of the Flies novel by William Golding?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With the setting of an island away from civilization and its influences, the main conflict in Golding's Lord of the Flies is between the main characters and the inherent evil that emerges within their hearts when they are involved in scenes of violence that occur in the absence of societal law and order. 


  • After being chosen leader, Ralph struggles to have the boys maintain the signal fire and build shelters. But, sometimes the power that Ralph holds stirs some atavistic feelings in Ralph: "The knowledge and the awe made him savage."
  • Ralph is ready to fight with Jack over his letting the fire go out.
  • When Ralph goes on a hunt with Jack he throws his stick at the boar, striking it on the nose.

"I hit him all right....I wounded him"....[Ralph]felt that hunting was good after all.

  • Ralph becomes involved in the beating death of Simon and does nothing to stop it. Afterwards, he does feel guilty and talks with Piggy about it.
  • When the hunters come after him, Ralph battles with his attackers
  • After battling his attackers, Ralph decides to try to reason with Jack, but on the way he runs across the pig's skull and kicks it, taking the spear on which it was impaled.
  • Ralph knows that Jack and the hunters intend to kill him. He lies in the darkness, faced with the horrors of death and evil.


  • Jack is immediately defiant and challenges Ralph's leadership
  • He denounces the power of the conch and has no respect for order
  • He breaks from Ralph and forms his own tribe
  • Jack and the hunters steal the fire and Piggy's glasses
  • Jack and the hunters perform brutal rituals, pretending that one boy is the pig, striking the boy
  • He and the hunters paint their faces, as they "understood only too well the liberation into savagery that the concealing paint brought."
  • He and the hunters perform the hunting ritual with Simon, who is beaten to death
  • He and the other hunters search for Ralph, inflicting pain on SamnEric and others
  • Jack and the others set fire to the entire island in their desire to kill Ralph.


  • Piggy decries violence, but is ineffective in fighting it.
  • He is victimized as Jack steals his glasses
  • He rationalizes when Ralph confronts him with their having witnessed Simon's death.
  • Piggy later is brutally killed by Roger.


  • Simon recognizes the evil in men, the "beast," but he is unable to articulate this evil.
  • He falls into the mouth of the Lord of the Flies
  • He is beaten to death by the hunters, falling victim to violence


  • He initially controls his violent desire to hit Henry with rocks because of his conditioning, but this part of civilization soon wears off
  • When the boys climb the mountain to find the beast, Roger goes behind Ralph, rapping a stick upon the rocks, threateningly.
  • He exhibits sadism, hurling a boulder upon Piggy, laughing.
  • Roger champions anarchy and gets carried away in the hunt for Ralph as the island is almost entirely burned.


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Lord of the Flies

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