What is the significance of the first chapter of Lord of the Flies? What events in the first chapter foreshadow the catastrophes later in the novel?

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The first chapter of Lord of the Flies "The Sound of the Shell" is significant because it develops the ideological premise on which the remainder of the novel functions.  The boys are in a situation in which they need to create a societal order for themselves and this begins in the first chapter with the symbolism and role of the conch and the administration of task responsibilities. 

Near the end of the chapter, the boys find a piglet and the hunters attempt to kill it.  As Jack raises his knife he pauses:  "The pause was only long enough for them to understand what an enormity the downward stroke would be."  This foreshadows the catastophes that will come later in the novel with regards to hunting and killing.  The boys realize the immense power that they have to take a life, and rather than respect this power, they abuse it.

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