“The boy with the fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way towards the lagoon. Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, his grey shirt stuck to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead…”
Thus begins the 1954 dystopian novel by William Golding: During an unnamed time of war, a plane crash lands on an uninhabited island.The only survivors are a group of boys.The first two boys introduced are the main protagonists of the story: Ralph is handsome and confident, while Piggy, is a fat asthmatic boy with glasses who nevertheless possesses a keen intelligence. Ralph finds a conch shell, which he uses to summon others. Among these boys is Jack Merridew, an aggressive boy who marches at the head of his choir. Ralph, whom the other boys choose as chief, leads Jack and another boy, Simon, on an expedition to explore the island. When the boys return from their expedition, Ralph calls a meeting and attempts to set rules of order for the island. Ralph proposes that they build a fire on the mountain which could signal their presence to any passing ships. Piggy proves essential to the process: the boys use his glasses to start the fire.While Jack tries to hunt pigs, Ralph orchestrates the building of shelters for the boys.
One day a ship passes by the island but does not stop, because the fire has burned out. Piggy blames Jack for letting the fire die, for he and his hunters have been preoccupied with killing a pig at the expense of their duty.Ralph becomes concerned by the behavior of Jack and the hunters and begins to appreciate Piggy’s maturity. He calls an assembly in which he criticizes the boys for not assisting with the fire or the building of the shelters. He insists that the fire is the most important thing on the island, for it is their one chance for rescue.When the little ones express their fear of the beast, Jack proclaims that there is no beast on the island. Jack then decides to lead an expedition to hunt the beast, leaving only Ralph, Piggy and Simon behind.That night, a corpse of a pilot falls on the mountain top. The twins Sam and Eric mistake him for the beast and create a tense atmosphere. Jack attempts to assert control over the other boys, calling for Ralph’s removal as chief, but when Ralph retains the support of the other boys Jack runs away, crying.Jack claims that he will be the chief of the hunters and the hunters kill a pig. They then cut off the head and leave it on a stake as an offering for the beast. Jack invites the other boys to join his tribe and offers them meat and the opportunity to have fun. All of the boys, except for Ralph and Piggy, join Jack.
Meanwhile, Simon finds the pig’s head that the hunters had left. He dubs it The Lord of the Flies because of the insects that swarm around it. He believes that it speaks to him, telling him how foolish he is and that the other boys think he is insane. The pig’s head claims that it is the beast, and it mocks the idea that the beast could be hunted and killed. As Simon wanders around, he sees the dead pilot that the boys perceived to be the beast and realizes what it actually is. He rushes down the mountain to alert the other boys.Ralph and Piggy decide to find the other boys to make sure that nothing unfortunate happens while they are pretending to be hunters. The boys panic when Ralph warns them that a storm is coming. As the storm begins, Simon rushes from the forest, telling about the dead body on the mountain. Under the impression that he is the beast, the boys descend on Simon and kill him.Back on the other side of the island, Ralph and Piggy discuss Simon’s death. They both took part in the murder, but they attempt to justify their behavior as motivated by fear and instinct. At Castle Rock, Jack rules over the boys and instills fear in them .During the night, the hunters attack the four boys. Piggy learns the purpose of the attack: they came to steal his glasses.After the attack, the four boys decide to go to the castle rock to appeal to Jack. Jack refuses to listen to Ralph’s appeals to justice and takes Sam and Eric as prisoners. Roger tips a rock over on Piggy, causing him to fall down the mountain to the beach. The impact kills him.
Ralph hides near Castle Rock, where he can see the other boys, whom he no longer recognizes as civilized English boys but as savages. Ralph evades the other boys who are hunting for him, then realizes that they are setting the forest on fire in order to smoke him out which will destroy the island.Running for his life, Ralph finally collapses on the beach, where a naval officer has arrived with his ship. He thinks that the boys have only been playing games, and he scolds them for not behaving in a more organized and responsible manner as is the British custom. As the boys prepare to leave the island for home, Ralph weeps for the death of Piggy and for the end of the boys’ innocence.