Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

Start Free Trial

Who are the littluns in Lord of the Flies?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The littluns in William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies are the group of younger boys on the uninhabited island, who are between the ages of six and eight. The littluns are instinctive, vulnerable boys who spend the majority of their days lounging by the pool, eating fruit, and playing. Ralph, Piggy, and Samneric try their best to accommodate and protect the littluns, who begin having nightmares about a terrifying beast on the island. Toward the beginning of the novel, the littlun with the mulberry-colored birthmark is the first to comment on seeing a "beastie" and then tragically dies in an accidental forest fire. While the littluns do not play a significant role in the story, Golding uses them, arguably, to further emphasize that mankind is inherently wicked. Instead of learning from Ralph and Piggy and contributing to a civil society, the littluns act more like savages by choosing to lounge around and play all day.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Lord of the Flies, the Littleuns are the young boys who tend to be six or seven years old.  These little boys are characterized by being irresponsible, dirty, ravenous, but still more mature than you would expect for six and seven year olds.  Piggy stresses that they don't know how to take care of themselves as they eat any bit of fruit they find, relieve themselves anywhere they feel like, sleep, play, and do little constructive to help the rest of the boys.  The most notable little boy was the one who was left nameless with the large birthmark on his face.  He was the one who was killed early on in the fire and had announced the fear of the beastie.  Otherwise, there are a variety of other littluns on the island.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the littluns in Lord of the Flies?

The littluns are the youngest boys on the island.  They are referred to in the collective sense which suggests that their individual identities are not of importance.  One of the biggest ways that the littluns contribute to the story is that they help develop the other characters.  For example, Jack has little concern for the littluns, and even suggests that a littlun be used as the pig in their next dance reenacting a successful hunt. His lack of concern for their safety and laughter at the thought of "hunting" one adds to his savage characterization. Piggy takes care of the littluns and is the only one that tries to record their names so they can be looked after properly.  This helps develop Piggy's character as nurturing and maternal. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the littluns in Lord of the Flies?

In Lord of the Flies, the littluns are the smaller boys on the island.  As stated in the above response, there does not seem to be a definitive age at which the boys are considered either littluns or biguns.  The littluns are characterized as the boys who need to be taken care of by the older boys who assume positions of leadership on the island.  Most of the littluns are not named; however, there are some who are prominent.  For example, Percival is one of the named littluns--he is the smallest boy on the island and he is symbolic of the irrational fear that the boys have of things coming to "get" them.  Percival is often heard crying, and he sets the other littluns on edge.  Another prominent littlun is the boy with the mulberry scar--although he remains unnamed, he is symbolic of the boys' downfall because he goes missing early in the story.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the function of the littluns in Lord of the Flies?

The littluns (little ones) perform two functions in the novel. First, they symbolize innocence; they are too young to participate in the power struggles that the older boys engage in. They are literally innocent children who merely observe and occasional comment on the action. Like a canary in a coal mine, it is the mulberry-marked face littlun who first sees the "beastie in the dark."

Second, they provide a source of conflict in the novel. Ralph is concerned about protecting the littluns and ensuring their safety, while Jack just wants to increase his tribal numbers so that he can seize power from Ralph.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on