Lord of the Flies Questions and Answers
by William Golding

Lord of the Flies book cover
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What is the plot summary of the novel Lord of the Flies?

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mizzwillie eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A plot summary for the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding would include several important points.  The novel is set in the future during wartime, and the British boys are being flown to safety away from the war.  Unfortunately, the plane crashes, the pilot is killed, and the boys are alone on the island.  The most important points of the summary would show the boys trying to set up leaders and organize themselves to survive such as shelter, a signal fire, and the conch to keep the meetings civilized and listening to each other.   The summary would  also show the boys' descent into chaos and savagery where several are killed, the innocence of boyhood lost in the fight between the two main characters, Ralph and Jack.  In the end, Ralph is on the run from the other boys to save his life when the naval officer from the outside world arrives to rescue them and take them back to the world where everyone is at war.   Golding is reminding us all that rescuing the boys from the island is an imperfect solution which shows the reader that war is an evil which exists everywhere.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I've included the enotes plot summary below; what's more important with this novel is knowing how to read it more effectively (and I am assuming you're going to read it rather than just get a summary.)

This is a symbolic novel; therefore the people, places, and things in this work have more meaning than simple plot will convey. A quick look at the four main characters will show you what I mean, I think.

Ralph is symbolic of our physical being.  He jumps and swims and does handstands when he's excited.  He's the only one of the boys who's bothered by his long hair and his crusty clothes as they rub against his skin.  He's elected leader because he looks like a leader, even though most of his ideas and thoughts are generated by Piggy.

Piggy is symbolic of our intellect.  He's nothing to look at (fat, glasses, asthma, no tan and no long hair while on the island).  He does virtually nothing physical; however, it's he who discovers the conch and thereby brings order to the boys at the beginning.  He wants to make lists and keep track of things, but he is routinely laughed at or ignored by everyone but Ralph--and even Ralph derided him at the beginning.

Jack is represents the ugly sin nature inherent in each of us.  When he hides behind his painted-on mask, he does what our worst impulses tell us to do.  He is the only one of the boys to have a knife, and he becomes quite proficient at using it.  He hurts people and even kills, and he appears to have no guilt about doing so.

Simon is a little more enigmatic, symbolizing our more spiritual/intuitive/emotional selves.  He is the one who "sees" things: he sees that ralph will be all right in the end, and he has the vision of the Lord of the Flies.  It's Simon who understands the real beast is them--and he is killed for trying to "save" them from themselves.

The items of symbolic significance include Piggy's specs, the conch, and fire, among others.  Watch for those items which are carried throughout the novel to have some significance.

This is a novel which depicts the world in condensed form--a microcosm.  The boys are slowly degenerating to their baser selves because the rules of law/order/civility/discipline/morality no longer apply.  (Golding talks about this in his comments in notes at the end of the book.)  The same is true of the world off the island, as it is at war.  This is more than just a tale of some boys on an island; read the piece symbolically to enhance the story and the meaning.  Happy reading!

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I see that you are a member here on eNotes so all you have to do to get a detailed explanation of the plot is look at the summary and analysis of the book.  I've included a link to that.  There is also a shorter summary that you can look at.

The basic plot of the book is that a group of English boys are stranded (without any adults) on an uninhabited island.  They have to decide who will be in charge and how they will behave.

There is a boy named Ralph who becomes the leader.  He tries to make the boys remain civilized and he tries to get them to focus on keeping healthy and on trying to build and maintain a signal fire so they can be rescued.  There is another boy named Jack who is Ralph's rival.  He wants to hunt and generally be wild rather than remaining civilized.

Over the course of the book, Jack's way gradually wins out over Ralph's.  At the end of the book, Jack's boys are about to kill Ralph when a navy ship shows up and rescues the boys.

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