What is the rising action in the book Lord of the Flies?

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way to track the rising action in Golding's novel Lord of the Flies is to consider the events as they relate to the loss of civilization in the boys' society--their descent into savagery. The key events would then be:

  • The boys assemble in their first meeting and vote for Ralph as their chief.
  • Ralph chooses two--Simon and Jack--to accompany him to explore the island.
  • Ralph holds a meeting to report on the exploration; when he mentions keeping a signal fire for rescue, the boys go wild and set a large swath of the forest on fire, resulting in the death of at least one child through negligence.
  • Ralph attempts to construct shelters while Jack tries to hunt. Neither is very successful, and they argue. Most boys won't help with the work for very long.
  • Jack, in the excitement of hunting a pig, takes Samneric away from tending the signal fire, allowing it to go out just as a ship passes within sight of the island. Ralph rebukes Jack; Jack attacks Piggy in anger and breaks his glasses.
  • Ralph asserts his authority, requiring the fire to be rebuilt and calling a meeting. The meeting deteriorates; Jack leads the boys into a wild scatter onto the beach. Piggy, Simon, and Ralph discuss how things aren't going well.
  • The "beast from air" frightens Samneric, causing them to abandon the signal fire.
  • The boys explore the island in search of the beast and are scared off when they come near the fallen parachutist. 
  • Jack tries to dethrone Ralph as chief, but Ralph convinces the boys to retain him.
  • Jack leaves the group, and before long he has enticed almost all the older boys to his side.
  • Simon goes off by himself, has a vision of the Beast, and goes up the mountain to find out what the other boys saw. He discovers the dead parachutist for what it is.
  • Jack holds a feast, showing his power. Even Ralph, Piggy, and Samneric attend. A thunderstorm hits. In their fear and confusion, the boys form a wild mob and attack Simon when he returns from the mountain, murdering him.
  • Jack steals Piggy's glasses and makes his own camp at Castle Rock.
  • Piggy, Ralph, and Samneric go to Castle Rock to confront Jack.
  • Jack spars with Ralph threateningly; Roger rolls a stone on Piggy and murders him.

This last point is the height of the rising action, or the climax. These events follow the development of the plot from the boys' organized civilization at the beginning to a fractured, barbaric society marked by willful murder. 

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rising action occurs from the exposition of the story to the most intense pinnacle of the story, the climax; the rising action usually involves a series of linked events which challenge the protagonist and brings the characters closer to the climax.  During Lord of the Flies, the rising action begins as Ralph blows the conch and the boys begin to assemble for their first meeting.  The rising action continues though the early chapters, focusing on the boys' concerns about hunting, rescue, and the beast.  The rising action continues all the way through the novel until the pivotal moment, the climax, which is Ralph's frantic chase through the woods by the hunters. 

Key Events in the Rising Action:

Calling of the first meeting

The boys' accidental setting of the mountain on fire

Jack and the hunters kill the first pig

Jack breaks Piggy's glasses

The appearance of the beast on the mountain side

Jack leaves Ralph's tribe and the hunters defect

The brutal killing of the sow and the 'gift' for the Beast

Simon encounters the Lord of the Flies

Simon is killed during the boys' dance

Jack steals Piggy's glasses

Piggy, Ralph, Samneric go to confront the hunters

Roger kills Piggy

Jack attacks Ralph and organizes a hunt to kill him


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Lord of the Flies

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