Suggested Essay Topics
Chapter 1: “The Sound of the Shell”
1. Examine the characters of Ralph, Jack, or Piggy in terms of what they possess that link them with their past lives, and what their emerging roles on the island are. Is there any indication which of these characters may be advancing more rapidly toward savagery than the others? Support your conclusion.
2. What is the symbolism of the conch? Why does it seem to have so much power? What characteristics does it have in common with what it appears to symbolize?
Chapter 2: “Fire on the Mountain”
1. What is the significance of the boys’ first attempt at the fire? How does the result foreshadow events to come? What is the result of the fire? Why are the creeper vines significant? How does the fire’s result mirror the boy with the mulberry-colored birthmark’s fear?
2. What is the meaning of the beast that makes its first appearance in this chapter? Discuss how it is portrayed, and the others’ reaction to it. Does this foreshadow its later significance? How does the beast become real to the boys?
Chapter 3: “Huts on the Beach”
1. Trace the path of Jack’s success as a hunter and Ralph’s
growing ineffectiveness as a leader. Compare their emerging viewpoints in their argument together on the beach. What does this say about the two boys and their roles as civilized young men?
2. What divisions are becoming apparent among the boys on the island? Trace the characters and who they are allied to at this point. Discuss these alliances and why they are occurring.
Chapter 4: “Painted Faces and Long Hair”
1. Examine Simon’s actions in this chapter and compare them to Roger’s. Both boys are outsiders like Piggy, yet seem to be accepted. Based upon these observations, present an argument for whom they will eventually ally themselves and explain why.
2. What is the significance of the camouflage paint that Jack puts on? How does it affect his personality? Why will it make him a better hunter? In what ways does it hide his personality? In what ways does it reveal his personality? Discuss its symbolic meaning as well as the others’ reactions to it.
Chapter 5: “Beast From Water”
1. Trace the references to the beast in the novel thus far. Parallel that with the diminishing sense of order on the island and the boys’ gradual embracing of Jack’s savagery. What is the true nature of the beast on the island that Simon is unable to verbally define?
2. Discuss how and why Jack disrupts the meeting. What is at the core of the power struggle between he and Ralph? What techniques of anarchy and disruption does Jack apply? What is the result? What does it tell you about the characters of Jack and Ralph?
Chapter 6: “Beast From Air”
1. Consider the character of Jack Merridew. How does he appear to be a qualified leader? What are his actual qualifications? Would he be a good leader? Why or why not? Compare him to Ralph. Who is better suited to lead the boys? Generally sum up why Jack’s character is introducing anarchy on the island and how.
2. What is the symbolic significance of the parachutist? How and why is it mistaken for the beast? In what ways is it a symbol of the beast?
Chapter 7: “Shadows and Tall Trees”
1. The scene in which the boys beat Robert is a crucial development in the story. Examine this situation. What do the boys’ actions say about their descent toward savagery? Why is it so surprising that Ralph eagerly takes part in the ritual? Why does he? What do the boys’ actions after the beating say about their situation?
2. Consider the character of Simon. How is he different from the others? Why is he unable to express his thoughts? Why does he seem to know what Ralph is thinking? Trace his development as a character thus far, and the emerging role he has in the story.
Chapter 8: “Gift for the Darkness”
1. Trace the boys’ gradual descent toward savagery to this point in the novel. What does it say about the nature of the beast? What is the beast? Who are the boys most closely related...
(The entire section is 1,129 words.)