“The shell was interesting and pretty and a worthy plaything.”

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 210

This quote is from chapter 1 in Lord of the Flies.

Though the conch evolves into an object of reverence and a symbol of democratic society, it begins as nothing more than a “worthy plaything” for Ralph. Despite Piggy’s attempts to convey the value and function of the shell, Ralph has no grander intentions than to satisfy his immediate curiosity. The initial blowing of the conch is done with the same irreverence, with several minutes spent using it to make “farting noises.” The conch begins as a game for Ralph, and he is so wrapped up in “the violent pleasure of making this stupendous noise” that he does not care when Piggy tells him the names of the arriving boys.

Though Ralph is credited with natural leadership qualities throughout the novel, his actual ascension to leadership is to a large extent due to his initial possession of the conch. The conch elevates him from ordinary child into leader, and “his ordinary voice sounded like a whisper after the harsh note of the conch.” Ralph’s “ordinary” self, which exalts in the simple pleasures of being a child free of adult supervision for the first time, becomes a “whisper” in the face of the responsibility thrust upon him by the conch. 

“The boy who controlled them was dressed in the same way though his cap badge was golden.”

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 139

This quote is from chapter 1 in Lord of the Flies.

The introduction of Jack portrays him as “the boy who controlled [the choir],” foregrounding his desire for power and ability to lead. His “golden” badge singles him out as a leader and emphasizes his taste for hierarchy. Jack immediately asks where “the man with the trumpet” is, only to be told that there is no ship and that Ralph was the one who made the noise.

Aside from Piggy, Jack is the first person to question Ralph’s authority, finding the “fair-haired boy with the creamy shell” unimpressive. Jack forces the choir boys to march in their uniforms, despite the heat and obvious physical strain. However, Jack’s desire to maintain social structure and stratification quickly dissolve once it becomes clear that there are no adults on the island.

“Eyes shining, mouths open, triumphant, they savored the right of domination.”

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 98

This quote is from chapter 1 in Lord of the Flies.

As the boys explore the island, they claim ownership of it, savoring the “right of domination” as their culture has done for centuries. The boys feels entitled to the land, and Jack’s later obsession with hunting pigs is symptomatic of his entitlement. As adolescent boys, none of the boys stranded on the island would have held power in the civilized world. However, this quote illustrates Golding's assertion that the desire for power and the inclination towards “domination” exist in everyone and will emerge if given the opportunity.

“They looked at each other, baffled, in love and hate.”

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 139

“They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling, unable to communicate.
‘If I could only get a pig!’
‘I’ll come back and go on with the shelter.’
They looked at each other, baffled, in love and hate.” 

This quote is from chapter 3 in Lord of the Flies.

Up until this point, Ralph and Jack have looked on each other with a sense of camaraderie, assuming their priorities were the same. Now, they are “baffled” by each other, each unable to comprehend the agenda of the other. Ralph wants to build shelters, while Jack wants to kill pigs. They look on each other with “love,” out of mutual respect and camaraderie, and “hate,” due to the lack of support they receive from one another. They’ve become two separate continents, unable to overcome the insurmountable divide between them.

“He became absorbed beyond mere happiness as he felt himself exercising control over living things.”

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 166

“He became absorbed beyond mere happiness as he felt himself exercising control over living things. He talked to them, urging them, ordering them. Driven back by the tide, his footprints became bays in which they were trapped and gave him the illusion of mastery.”

This quote is from chapter 4 in Lord of the Flies.

Though the littluns have no power in either British society or the island society, Golding reveals that they nonetheless hold the desire for power. Henry takes pleasure “beyond mere happiness” in the act of “exercising control over living things.” The boys are stranded on a deserted island and powerless to change their situation, so they attempt to exert power over their surroundings. For the biguns, this manifests in control over other humans. Indeed, while Henry exults in his “illusion of mastery” over nature, Roger exults in his mastery over Henry by throwing rocks near him. However, it is only the “illusion” of mastery, since nature, including humanity, is impossible to fully control.

“I'm not going to play any longer. Not with you.”

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 126

This quote is from chapter 8 in Lord of the Flies.

After Jack’s failed attempt to vote Ralph out of authority, he declares that he his no longer going to “play” with Ralph or anyone who continues to associate with Ralph. Jack has by this point committed acts of violence, killing pigs and attacking Piggy. However, the diction he uses to separate himself from Ralph’s group frames these events as a game. Jack, despite his violent and savage character, is still a little boy, and he cries after being rejected. This line can also be read as a declaration that the time for “play” is over, a notion born out by the escalation of violence in the ensuing chapters after Jack forms his own group. 

“Each of them wore the remains of a black cap and ages ago they had stood in two demure rows and their voices had been the songs of angels.”

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 137

This quote is from chapter 8 in Lord of the Flies.

This passage illustrates the loss of innocence that Jack and the other former choirboys have experienced. This loss can be seen in the juxtaposition of their painted, nude, and ungroomed visages against the neat rows and careful comportment they displayed at the start.

As members of a church choir, they sang “the songs of angels,” using their voices to praise God and virtue. Now they are preparing to slaughter a nursing sow, destroying a symbol of innocence and motherhood in cold blood. The head of the sow becomes the Lord of the Flies, another name for Beelzebub, a figure commonly conflated with Satan. Jack and his choir have thus turned away from singing the “songs of angels” and have instead created a monument to their own evil.

“and the hunters followed, wedded to her in lust, excited by the long chase and the dropped blood.”

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 130

“The sow staggered her way ahead of them, bleeding and mad, and the hunters followed, wedded to her in lust, excited by the long chase and the dropped blood.”

This quote is from chapter 8 in Lord of the Flies.

The sow, who had been peacefully nursing her piglets when the hunters attack, is a symbol of motherhood and innocence. The only feminine figures on the island are the sows, whom Jack’s gang mercilessly hunt and mutilate. The sexual connotations of the hunt, with the boys “wedded to [the sow] in lust” and Roger's shoving his spear into the pig’s anus, suggest other forms that evil can take. Upon entering the island, the boys were innocent schoolboys. Now, they are violent and sexual, fully fallen from their former grace.

“What else is there to do?”

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 128

This quote is from chapter 8 and repeated in chapter 9 in Lord of the Flies.

Simon utters this phrase twice, once before seeing the sow's head and once after. As the beacon of natural morality and goodness on the island, he wants to seek out the truth about the beast. He views his desire to confront the beast as natural and obligatory, a sentiment that earns him scorn from Piggy and the others, who are too afraid to confront the beast. This sense of obligation and moral correctness positions Simon as a Christ-like figure in that he has a duty to seek out truth and do what is virtuous. He is clear-sighted enough to recognize the futility of fearful dawdling, so he decides to confront the fearful beast directly.

“Jack, painted and garlanded, sat there like an idol.”

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 120

This quote is from chapter 9 in Lord of the Flies.

An idol is an image or representation of a deity. In Christian theology, worship of “idols” is considered blasphemous for turning attention away from true divinity. The simile as Jack as idol reinforces his hunger for power, to the point where he wishes to be worshipped by the other boys.

In another instance of idolization, Jack mounts the sow’s head on a stick as an offering to the beast. Since the beast lives in the boys, Jack’s role as an “idol” can be read as a sort of grim acknowledgment of the fact that the boys now worship the brutality within themselves, embodied by “Jack, painted and garlanded.”

“There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws.”

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 130

“At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws.”

This quote is from chapter 9 in Lord of the Flies.

This quotation highlights the violent savagery of the boys and their loss of individual identity during the dance. They are simply “the crowd,” acting as one unthinking unit rather than as individuals. Additionally, “teeth and claws” are descriptions more commonly associated with animals, specifically the terrifying beast that Samneric saw. Simon, mistaken for the beast in the heat of the moment, is killed by the “teeth and claws” of the other boys, cementing the symbolic link between the beast and the “darkness in men’s hearts.”

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