Lord of the Flies Characters
The main characters of Lord of the Flies include Ralph, Jack, Piggy, Simon, and Roger.
- Ralph is elected leader of the schoolboys when they are stranded on an island.
- Jack rebels against Ralph’s authority and leads the boys to savagery.
- Piggy is an intelligent, overweight boy who acts as Ralph’s adviser.
- Simon is an innocent boy who is killed by the savage group.
- Roger is a sadist who becomes one of Jack's first followers.
Last Updated on April 22, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 228
Lord of the Flies can be read as a rich set of character studies nested within the novel’s larger allegory. Thus each of the main characters is unique, representing a particular aspect of human society, from Piggy’s scientific rationality to Simon’s intuitive creativity to Jack’s tyrannical malevolence.
Ralph is the protagonist of Lord of the Flies. He is one of the older boys on the island, and his good looks and confidence make him a natural leader. He finds the conch and initially looks on it as a... (Read our extended character analysis on Ralph)
Jack is the antagonist of Lord of the Flies. He is set in physical contrast to the attractive Ralph, instead described as tall, thin, and “ugly without silliness.” Jack is the leader of a church choir, and... (Read our extended character analysis on Jack)
Piggy is established as an outsider and source of ridicule amongst the boys on the island, with his weight, asthma, and spectacles offering up prime targets for jokes. His thin hair, physique, and... (Read our extended character analysis on Piggy)
Simon is the one of the younger “biguns,” portrayed as thoughtful, gentle, and prone to fainting spells. He begins as one of the choir boys but he does not join Jack’s band of hunters, instead staying... (Read our extended character analysis on Simon)
Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 282
Extended Character Analysis
Roger is one of the “biguns” and a member of the choir led by Jack Merridew. He is described as “dark” and “slight and furtive,” and none of the other boys know him well. However, as the boys spend more time on the island, Roger quickly establishes his cruel nature by knocking down the younger boys’ sandcastles and throwing rocks at Henry. At first, the constraints of polite society prevent him from actually hurting anyone, but as Jack’s power grows and the boys’ society collapses, Roger grows more bold and more violent. The killing of the nursing sow showcases Roger’s sadism, as he drives his sharpened stick into the pig’s anus, an action that serves no purpose aside from causing pain. Roger's embrace of violence culminates in the murder of Piggy, wherein Roger casts off his inhibitions completely and serves as Jack’s executioner.
Roger acts as a foil for Piggy. Just as Piggy is Ralph’s advisor, Roger is Jack’s second-in-command, establishing himself as Jack’s executioner. He is shown to have significant influence within the tribe when he takes over the torture of Samneric. Piggy represents wisdom, prudence, and civility, helping push Ralph to be a better leader and hold society together. Roger represents the direct opposite: savagery, recklessness, and anarchy. Whereas as Piggy is lucid in articulating his many thoughts, Roger is silent and undecipherable, preferring action to speech. It is the bounds of society that once kept Roger contained, so his influence, now unbounded, seeks to undermine order and rationality in favor of violence and chaos. His murder of Piggy represents the triumph of savagery and hedonism over order and civility.
Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 278
Extended Character Analysis
The identical twins Sam and Eric are referred to as Samneric due to their indistinguishable appearances and personalities. They are regularly appointed to tend the signal fire, and they are involved in both the missed rescue opportunity and the initial sighting of the dead parachutist, which they mistake for the beast.
After Jack defects and forms his own tribe, Samneric are the only “biguns” aside from Piggy and Simon who remain loyal to Ralph. They go with Ralph and Piggy to reclaim Piggy’s stolen glasses from Jack. After Piggy’s death and Ralph’s escape, they are captured and tortured into joining Jack’s tribe by Roger. However, despite their fear of Roger, they still give Ralph food and warn him about Jack’s plans before sending him away.
Samneric represent societal unity. They don’t possess the individuality that the rest of the boys do and are regarded as one entity rather than two distinct ones. Piggy attempts to differentiate them at the beginning, but it is not until after Simon’s death that they become briefly distinguishable from one another due to their differing injuries.
After Simon's death, societal unity dissolves completely, with any chance of reconciliation between the opposing factions destroyed by the death of the only person who knew the truth of the beast. Sam and Eric begin fighting one another, no longer able to function as a unit, just as Ralph’s group is too fractured to be able to function cohesively. They are later forcibly assimilated into Jack’s tribe, one again becoming Samneric as Jack prepares to hunt down Ralph, uniting his tribe under a common purpose.
Last Updated on July 17, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 364
Extended Character Analysis
Three of the biguns—Bill, Maurice, and Robert—have minor but notable roles in Lord of the Flies. While not as developed as the main characters, each adds to the narrative by presenting a mixture of personality traits that serve to support themes in the text.
Bill is initially confused by the different values and priorities of Ralph and Jack. When Jack shows the others his plan to paint his face to hunt a pig, Bill seems interested but becomes afraid of Jack's painted face and runs away. However, he eventually imagines hunting and "being savages" to be "jolly good fun" and embraces these things in order to confront his fears. He tries to persuade Ralph's group to go to Jack's feast, and he ultimately joins Jack's tribe. He is last seen covered in paint, hunting Ralph.
Like Bill, Maurice is also confused by the culture clash on the island. Maurice is tall, like Jack, and exhibits a mixture of good and bad characteristics, depending on which boy is in charge. Initially, Maurice is helpful, proposing that the boys use green branches to create smoke for the signal fire. He also cheers up the littluns by pretending to fall off a log, making them laugh. Despite wanting to believe, like Piggy, that science can explain away human fears, Maurice still fears the beast, claiming "We don't know [about the beast], do we? Not certainly, I mean...." He eventually gives in to his fears and joins Roger in kicking over the littluns' sand castles as a way to exert power. Maurice finally progresses entirely away from reason when he helps Jack steal fire from Ralph and Piggy.
Robert generally goes along with whoever is in power. In one of the few instances where he shows initiative, he pretends to be a pig in the hunting game. However, the boys go too far and hurt him, reducing Robert to a whining child. After Jack leaves to start his own group, Robert joins him. He and Maurice are a part of the group that welcomes Ralph, Piggy, and the others to Jack's feast. Robert eventually becomes one of Jack's guards at Castle Rock.
Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 526
Extended Character Analysis
The older boys use the term “littluns” to refer collectively to the younger boys on the island. They spend most of their days playing on the beach rather than working, and they are wracked by nightmares of a terrifying beast. They are largely objects of derision amongst the older boys, who view their nightmares as childish.
The littluns are the most vulnerable people on the island, most of them too young to properly take care of themselves or navigate the wilderness. They symbolize the common people of a society, influenced by the leadership of the older boys. At the beginning, they are democratic constituents with voting power and input at the meetings. They elect Ralph, who looks out for their safety by maintaining the signal fire and building shelters. However, as their fear of the beast grows, they are brought under the sway of Jack, a demagogue who manipulates their fear and promises to hunt down the beast. Under Jack, they feast and reject their civilized instincts.
The named littluns that feature in Lord of the Flies include the following:
- Henry: The biggest littlun, Henry is the target of Roger's game in chapter 4. Henry is related to the littlun with the mulberry-colored birthmark, and he later joins Jack's group. Henry delights in "exercising control over living things" because of the supposed power it gives him over nature.
- Johnny: Along with Percival, Johnny is the smallest of the littluns. He is described as having "a natural belligerence," which he showcases by throwing sand in Percival's face. Later, Johnny cries when he thinks Eric may be bleeding after his encounter with Jack's fire-stealers.
- The littlun with the mulberry-colored birthmark: Besides the birthmark, this littlun is identified as a relative of Henry's. He is the first of the boys to mention a "snake-thing," which becomes the "beastie" that the littluns claim comes in the dark. This littlun is not seen again after the first fire burns out of control.
- Percival Wemys Madison: Of all the littluns, Percival has the most difficulty adjusting to his new surroundings. He is one of the smallest littluns and "play[s] little and cries often." Ralph and Piggy call on Percival after Phil's dream of seeing and fighting with "twisty things in the trees" to hopefully dispel the rumors of the beast. However, Percival keeps reciting his name and address. He eventually suggests that the beast comes from the sea, and that thought, combined with his wailing, starts the other littluns crying as well.
- Phil: One of the more confident littluns, Phil is able to describe his dream of fighting with "twisty things in the trees" to the group.
The littluns represent the common people of any society, and in that role they highlight the dangers of irresponsibly wielded power. When Ralph suggests building a signal fire for the first time, the boys set off in a frenzy and allow the fire to grow out of control. This results in the implied death of a littlun with a mulberry-colored birthmark. Piggy then scolds the boys for their rash actions, reinforcing the need for order and careful consideration in a successful society.
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