Tag Archives: Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies – Charcater essay on Ralph

Choose a novel with a character who you find interesting. With reference to the text show how the writer made the character interesting.

In The Lord of the Flies by William Golding Ralph is a very interesting character. In the novel a group of boys become stranded on a desert island and must fight to survive. Ralph is a compelling character because he is the one who fights to keep civility alive amongst the boys and tries to stop them becoming savages. We can track how he does this throughout the novel.

The first way Ralph proves to be interesting is when he establishes a sense of order on the island. He finds a large conch and gathers the boys together and tells them “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak, they won’t be interrupted”. We can see clearly here that there is a sense of democracy, any boy who wishes to speak will be given the chance to do so. The idea that they won’t be ‘interrupted’ shows that Ralph expects the boys to listen to each other and give each other respect even if they don’t agree with one another. Ralph is also clearly the leader here as he is the one in charge of where the conch goes. This makes Ralph interesting as he is clearly the authority figure and he is clearly in charge at this point.

Ralph continues to exert his authority over the boys. The younger boys begin to slack off from their work and the older boys don’t pay attention to the fire and so Ralph shouts “I’m calling an assembly” and the boys immediately gather at the point. This shows that Ralph is still the boss at this point and it shows the boys still have a sense of civility as they conform to Ralph’s instructions. This is interesting because it shows Ralph is still able to control the boys at this point and there is still a sense of a functioning society.

Ralph sees that the boys are starting to move away from their civility as time passes and he tries to remind the boys of who they are. The older boys let the fire go out and Ralph, furious at them asks “Are we savages or what?” The tone of this is angry and he is trying to tell the boys that they need to behave better. The loss of fire is a loss of hope of rescue. Letting the fire go out suggests that some of the older boys aren’t actually fussed about getting off the island. This scene is interesting because it shows Ralph is starting to feel exhausted from being the only authority figure and he is getting frazzled at trying to get so many boys to conform to rules that will ultimately save them.

Ralph starts to lose his authority when Jack begins to openly challenge him. Jack punches Piggy and steals his glasses in order to restart the signal fire, Ralph calls him out on it saying “That was a dirty trick” and we are told “Ralph felt his lip twitch”. Ralph is openly identifying Jack’s deviant actions whereas in the past he would have let Jack away with it. He is trying to control Jack here. His lip twitching is an involuntary action but it betrays Ralph’s dislike for Jack. This scene is interesting as the group of boys can now see the split between Jack and Ralph and will be forced to take sides, and Ralph here actually looks weaker because he is not using brute strength.

Finally Ralph loses control of the boys completely but refuses to join them as he still clings to civility over savagery. When Simon is mistaken for the Beast and murdered Ralph is the only one who will admit “that was Simon, that was murder” and when they are finally rescued and the naval officer asks jokingly had they killed anyone Ralph responds “Only two” and Golding reveals “The officer knew when people were telling the truth. He whistled softly.” Ralph’s first statement is just that, a clear acknowledgement that the boys’ savage behaviour has led them to kill someone. Ralph’s response to the naval officer implies that the boys could have ended up killing more boys if rescue hadn’t occurred. Ralph is not scared of the truth. Ralph is interesting because he is the one boy on the island who has matured and grown a strong moral centre prizing civility over savagery.

In conclusion, Golding makes Ralph an interesting character by showing him grow as a leader and then remain the only boy who will not succumb to savagery by joining Jack’s group. Ralph is there to show us what could happen when savagery takes over from civility.

Lord of the Flies – Character essay on Jack

Choose a novel with a character who you find fascinating. With reference to the text show how the writer made the character fascinating.

William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies is a novel in which Jack is a fascinating character. In the book a group of boys are stranded on a desert island and must work out how to survive. Golding makes Jack a fascinating character as he makes him change from a darling little boy into a terrifying and reckless young man. We can explore how this change takes place.

At the start of the book Jack is clearly still confined by society’s rules and still wants to be seen as good. We know this as in the scene where he catches a pig he struggles to kill it and we’re told ““he hadn’t because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh”. Here, the word choice of ‘enormity’ tells us that Jack finds killing the pig a big deal, he struggles to murder a living thing as he’s never done this before. The description of the knife ‘descending’ reinforces this as even though the knife is traveling a short distance to Jack it feels like an eternity as he tries to commit a big act of killing. The words ‘living flesh’ shows Jack still empathises with the pig and doesn’t want to kill it. At this point it is clear Jack still wants to follow normal rules and thinks that hurting things is wrong.

Jack begins to change slowly and develops a crazy and violent side. We see this when his hunting job starts to take over his mind and we are told Jack had a “compulsion to track down and kill things that was swallowing him up”. The word ‘compulsion’ suggests that this feeling is not something Jack has any control over; it is almost instinctive for him or a crazy addiction. This is reinforced by the idea that this feeling was ‘swallowing’ him up, it was a feeling or thought that was taking over his life and killing a pig became the only thing he could think about. There’s a possibility that Jack became so fixated as he felt like a failure and less masculine for failing to kill the pig in the first place and now wants to kill one to prove he is a man. This makes Jack fascinating as it is difficult to understand how someone could want to kill something, or be so fixated on that, unless they were going crazy in some way.

Jack does finally manage to kill a pig but all this seems to do is make him madder and badder. He leads a group of boys after they kill the pig and starts a war dance around the carcass chanting “Kill the pig, cut her throat, spill the blood”. This is quite a disturbing scene, the boys appear far too young for such ferocious actions. The chant shows how savage they have become under Jack’s instructions. The words ‘cut’ and ‘spill’ are quite visceral and forceful and the boys are acting far more maturely and savagely than we’d expect them to. This makes Jack seem fascinating as he is now convincing the other boys to become savages too.

Jack’s behaviour develops again when he begins to challenge Ralph’s authority on the island. When the boys are discussing who will go up the mountain and find the beast Jack says he will go and yells at Ralph “coming?” This is clearly asked in a challenging and mocking tone. Jack doesn’t believe Ralph will go up the mountain because he is too scared and Jack will be able to prove to the boys that he should be their brave new leader. This is fascinating because we see Jack try to manipulate the situation so he can wrestle control from Ralph and lead the group.

Jack finally gets what he wants and becomes the chief of all the boys. However his control of them is through fear rather than love and we are told he was “the boy who controlled them” which is best seen when he interacts with Roger – “Jack had [Rodger] by the hair and was brandishing a knife”. The word ‘controlled’ suggests that Jack is a massive dictator but the ‘boy’ suggests that his leadership is immature. The scene with Roger is worrying as it shows Jack dominating the other boys through force and threat. This is fascinating as we see Jack reach the worst version of himself all caused by being on an island without rules.

In conclusion, Golding creates a fascinating character in Jack by making his personality develop from a reasonably pleasant boy to one who begins to challenge authority and eventually become the authority on the island. He is a brute force who has been included to show what happens if the rules are taken away. Jack is the little savage in all of us.

2016-7 Quote Bank for Lord of the Flies

“We was attacked”
“This is our island”
“there aren’t any grown-ups, we’ll have to look after ourselves”
“He says the beastie came in the dark”
“battle fought at a ten mile height, but a sign came down from the world of the grown-ups”
“All at once thunder struck. Instead of a dull boom there was a point of impact in the explosion””

Theme & Symbolism
“I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak, they won’t be interrupted”
“he hadn’t because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh”
“snake thing” becomes “Lord of the Flies”
“Kill the pig, cut her throat, spill the blood”
“piggy cried out in terror “my specs!””
“the tearing of teeth and claws”
“that was Simon, that was murder”
“the boy who controlled them”

Character- Ralph
“I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak, they won’t be interrupted”
“I’m calling an assembly”
“Are we savages or what?”
“That was a dirty trick” “Ralph felt his lip twitch”
“that was Simon, that was murder”
“Only two” “The officer knew when people were telling the truth. He whistled softly.”

Character – Jack
“he hadn’t because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh”
“compulsion to track down and kill things that was swallowing him up”
“Kill the pig, cut her throat, spill the blood”
“coming?” – challenges Ralph
“Jack had [Rodger] by the hair and was brandishing a knife”
“the boy who controlled them”

Lord of the Flies C5 Questions

1What does Ralph need to think about at the start of the chapter?
2What must the meeting not be?
3Describe the assembly place.
4What was the trouble with being chief?
5What is Piggy better at than Ralph?
6What did they decide about the water?
7Why can’t they deviate from the plan?
8Why is one of the shelters not built as strongly as the others?
9What is the most important thing on the island to Ralph?
10Compare Jack and Piggy’s percetions of the beast
11What does Maurice trying to make the littluns laugh reveal about him?
12Where do the littluns think the beast comes from?
13What does Simon think about the beast?
14Why had Ralph’s careful planning of the meeting break up?
15Why doesn’t Jack think Ralph is a good chief?
16What is Ralph’s reasoning for him being chief?
17What would happen if Jack were chief?
18Why can’t Jack hurt Ralph?
19Do grown-ups always act civilised?
20What if adults landed on the island instead of children, how would the book have been different?

Lord of the Flies C4 Questions

1 What were the smaller boys known as?
2 Who are the littluns in modern society?
3 What is the conch linked with?
4 Who is Henry?
5 What do Maurice and Roger do to the castles?
6 Why does Maurice run away?
7 Why does Henry get exited when he is in control of living things?
8 Why does Roger throw the stones near the littleun instead of directly at him?
9 Jack compares hunting to war. Are these things comparable?
10 What will Jack’s painted face allow him to do?
11 What does Piggy’s hair do?
12 What is the boy’s response when they see the smoke in the distance?
13 Why does the boys plan for rescue fail?
14 What caused the hunters, who had promised to keep the fire burning, to neglect it?
15 Even if the boys hate Piggy, why do they still need him?
16 How frustrated would you be if you were Ralph?
17 What are Jack and his hunters chanting?
18 What does Jack have memories of?
19 What is more important: did the boys need meat or did Jack need to hunt?
20 What does Jack do when Piggy confronts him?
21 What does this reveal about Jack?
22 Does Ralph surrender to Jack by eating the meat?
23 Is Simon more “pure” than Ralph? Is this important?
24 How does Ralph restore order on the island?

Lord of the Flies – sample essay.

Choose a novel in which an important theme is explored. Explain how the author develops this theme throughout the novel.

            The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a novel in which the theme of savagery versus civilisation is explored. Some British boys are stranded on an isolated island at the time of an imaginary nuclear war. On the island we see conflict between two main characters, Jack and Ralph, who respectively represent civilisation and savagery. This has an effect on the rest of the boys throughout the novel as they delve further and further into savagery.

             The theme of savagery versus civilisation is first introduced to us through the symbol of the conch shell which we associate with Ralph as he is the person who first uses it and becomes the elected leader of the boys. This symbolises authority amongst the boys. At the first assembly Ralph says “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak…he won’t be interrupted”. This suggests civilisation as Ralph is allowing each boy to have an equal say and opinion. If they have the conch, no matter who they are or what age they are they will be given the chance to speak and will be listened to by the rest of the boys. The boys have created the island to be a democratic place which shows a civilised side to them as they try to mimic the homes they have just left.

             Contrasting with the symbol of the conch is the symbol of the beast which comes to be associated with Jack as by the end of the novel he is almost devil worshipping it. The beast begins as a  “snake thing” but by the end of the novel it has become “the Lord of the Flies”. The first quote shows us that the beast is clearly evil. Western society considers snakes to be bad omens because it was a snake that led Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. However at this stage of the novel the beast is quite insubstantial as it is only a “thing”. As the boys fear of the beast grows so to does the beast itself until it has manifested into the devil – the ultimate and most powerful evil. He has a strong status as a Lord although it is over something pretty disgusting – the flies. The boys belief in the beast leads them to behave more like savages as they act out from their fear and they begin to loose hold of the rules, led by Jack, thus demonstrating the theme of savagery.

             One of ways Golding shows conflict between savagery and civilisation is when Jack and some of the other boys are killing the first pig. Jack chants “kill the pig, cut her throat, spill the blood”. This suggests savagery as the boys are being violent and aggressive when killing the pig and they don’t care about it. This is particularly clear through Golding’s word choice. Jack talks about cutting the pig’s throat which makes it sound like a savage action and spilling her blood which reinforces the lack of care and feeling shown towards the pug’s carcass. This shows that the boys are no longer feeling guilty about what they have done thus showing them becoming savages. 

             We can see the conflict between savagery and civilisation developing further when Piggy’s glasses are broken. We are told “Piggy cried out in terror ‘my specs!” This shows us that the boys savage natures are beginning to overule their more civilised sides. At the start of the book Jack would never have dared touch Piggy, but here he actually snaps and goes for Piggy who he despises. We can tell that Piggy is really scared as Golding chooses the words “cried” and “terror” to describe the scene. Piggy sounds like he is hurting and is genuinely terrified about what Jack might do to him and the loss of his sight. Piggy’s glasses have also come to represent intelligence on the island, with them breaking we see that the pathway to savagery is now completely open for the boys. This is the first true piece of violence between the two factions on the island and it will result in nearly all the boys becoming savages.

             A final way in which we see the theme of savagery versus civilisation being demonstrated is when Ralph sticks up for Piggy after he is attacked by Jack. Ralph says “that was a dirty trick”. This shows that Ralph is really angry at Jack for what he said and did to Piggy. He is still attempting to impose himself as leader here as he says this in an aggressive and assertive tone. This suggests there is still some glimmers of civilisation on the island at this point as there is still someone with a sense of moral goodness ready to fight for justice.

             In conclusion The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a novel in which the theme of savagery versus civilisation is shown. Ralph represents civilisation as he wants to enforce rules and let everyone have an equal say. Whereas Jack who represents savagery as he rules over the boys and he is not interested in what they have to say. Through the boys actions Golding shows us that we need rules and to consciously impose them to make sure society functions properly.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding – quotes and chapter summary

Alot of the following quotes can be used for various essay questions. It would make sense to go through them and copy out the ones you think are most suited to what you want to write. Try and prepare an essay plan for a good character, a bad character, a theme (civilisation vs. savagery, innocence vs. evil, the abuse of power, etc) and use of setting.


  • plump”, “shorter”, “very fat”, “thick spectacles”
  • Ralph “shrieked with laughter” at his nickname
  • what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy”
  • Piggy cried out in terror, ‘my specs’”
  • only Piggy could have the intellectual daring to suggest moving the fire away from the mountain”
  • because what’s right is right”


  • perhaps there aren’t any grown-ups anywhere”
  • a mildness about his mouth and eyes that proclaimed no devil…might make a boxer”
  • His anger at the fire watchers for hunting – “his voice was loud and savage, and struck them into silence.”
  • After calling an assembly after the first kill – “I’m calling an assembly’ he turned away and walked off down the mountain”
  • he was overcome with the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching ones feet.”
  • Ralph starts to lose it after Jack leaves – “Ralph was puzzled by the shutter that flickered in his brain”
  • On what happened to Simon – “that was Simon…that was murder”
  • Are we savages or what?”


  • the boy who controlled them”
  • tall, thin and bony; and his hair was red…his face crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of his face stared two light blue eyes…ready to turn to anger”
  • He hadn’t: because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh”
  • compulsion to track down and kill things that was swallowing him up
  • the madness came into his eyes”
  • After attacking Piggy and being told off – “his voice was vicious with humiliation”
  • Whilst pretending Roger is a pig “ Jack had him by the hair and was brandishing a knife”
  • Suggesting what to cook on the fire – “use a littlun” said jack, and everybody laughed”
  • Jack speaking to Ralph about going u the mountain – “Coming?”
  • He was safe from the shame of self-consciousness behind the mask of his paint and could look at each of them in turn”
  • At the feast Jack speaks as though he is generous but really he is stamping his authority – “has everyone eaten as much as they want?”
  • Roger on jack’s erratic behaviour “He got angry and made us tie Wilfren up. He’s been…tied for hours, waiting”
  • Jack steals Piggy’s glasses “from his left hand dangled Piggy’s broken glasses”
  • the chief was sitting there, naked to the waist, his face blocked out in white and red”

Savagery v. civilisation/ innocence v. evilness

  • On Roger’s behaviour – “furtive boy…[with an] inner intensity of avoidance and secrecy”
  • Ralph – “there aren’t any grown-ups we shall have to look after ourselves.”
  • Piggy at the first fire – “like a pack of kids”, “that littlun that had the mark on his face – where is he now?”
  • Simon takes himself away to think – “when he was secure in the middle he was in a little cabin”
  • On Henry playing with the sea creatures “he became absorbed beyond mere happiness as he felt himself exercising control over living things”
  • kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood”
  • On the biguns arguing after the first kill – “passions beat about Simon…with awful wings”
  • Ralph “this meeting must not be fun, but business”
  • Ralph – “the rules are the only thing we’ve got”
  • Ralph on the disintegration of the rules – “We shan’t keep the fire going. We’ll be like animals”
  • Piggy on the rest of the boys “boys armed with sticks”
  • [piggy] held the conch against his chest with one hand and stabbed the air with his index finger”
  • Simon speaking in front of the boys “the pressure of the assembly took his voice away”

Symbol – the conch

  • I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak…and he won’t be interrupted”
  • Said by Ralph to Jack “I’ve got the conch”
  • supposing we go, looking like we used to, washed and hair brushed – after all we aren’t savages really and being rescued isn’t a game”

Symbol – the beast

  • snake thing”
  • beastie”, “he says the beastie came in the dark”
  • then people started getting frightened” by the beast
  • the beast comes out of the sea”
  • Simon – “Maybe it’s only us”
  • Perhaps that’s what the beast is – a ghost”
  • The parachutist’s body – “the ruin of a face”
  • the beast had teeth…big black eyes”
  • this head is for the beast. It’s a gift” the silence accepted the gift and awed them. The lord of the Flies hung on his stick and grinned…[Simon’s] gaze was held by that ancient, inescapable recognition”
  • To Simon “you knew didn’t you? I’m part of you? We’re going to have fun on this island. Understand?…or else…we shall do you?”
  • the beast was harmless and horrible”
  • The boys kill Simon when they mistake him for the beast – “the beast was on its knees in the centre, its arms folded over its face…fell over the steep edge…the tearing of teeth and claws…they could see how small a beast it was…Simon’s dead body moved out toward the open sea”
  • Roger on Jack “Roger admired, “he’s a proper chief, isn’t he?”
  • Piggy on going home “if we don’t get home soon we’ll go barmy


  • The littluns “suffered untold terrors in the dark”
  • The plane fight mirrors the change on the island, “the battle fought at ten miles height”
  • faced by the brute obtuseness of the ocean, the miles of division, one was clamped down, one was helpless, one was condemned”
  • Dramataic epithet – “all at once the thunder struck. Instead of a dull boom there was a point of imact in the explosion”
  • diminishing crags were balanced one on another”

1. A group of school boys find themselves stranded on a desert island during a nuclear war.

2. The boys establish some rules with Ralph as their elected leader.

3. It becomes apparent that the rules don’t work very well, the littluns play and they have no meat.

4. The hunters finally manage to kill a pig but let the fire go out and Ralph is mad.

5. Ralph tries to reassert his power as chief.

6. Samneric think they have seen the beast and the boys go looking for it.

7. Ralph and Jack insist on going up the mountain in an attempt to assert their own authority.

8. Jack runs away and starts his own group.

9. The boys murder Simon when they mistake him for the Beast.

10. The rest of Ralph’s group runs away, Piggy and Ralph discuss what to do.

11. Piggy is murdered.

12. All the boys hunt Ralph then a boat turns up to rescue them.