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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Lord of the Flies by William Golding-Free Summary
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By asking Ralph's name, Piggy shows he is anxious to keep relations civilized and decent while they're on the island. He needs to link himself to civilization and sanity in order to believe he will be safe.

Ralph floats in the warm waters of the lagoon, day-dreaming comfortably. He's too happy with his newfound freedom to worry, and he believes his father will rescue them.

NOTE:

Thinking your father will come to save you is like believing in a magical wizard or even a god. According to Golding, this is part of Ralph's innocence and an important idea to be aware of in the story.

Piggy doesn't agree about their chances of being rescued: "We may stay here till we die." His father is dead and therefore won't be rescuing him. Piggy's ability to predict, his near- blindness, and his glasses are characteristics that will have significance in the course of the novel. We will discuss their importance later, but if you follow them through the story, you will increase your understanding of what Golding is saying.

The differences between Ralph and Piggy are obvious. Ralph is strong, handsome, and unthinking; Piggy is fat, serious, and concerned. Together, Ralph and Piggy are like the body and mind of a single person. Ralph enjoys himself sensually while Piggy keeps asking questions, trying to think things through. It is Piggy who knows to blow on the shell to call the boys together; it is Ralph who has the necessary strength to sound the conch shell. And when he does, the boys begin to emerge from the jungle.


NOTE: THE SYMBOLISM OF THE CONCH

The sounding of the conch is like a reenactment of an ancient event. The boys are being called out of the jungle in much the same way primitive men were called together. At the same time, the conch's sounding is a means of communication, a way of gathering the boys. It brings them out of isolation so they can become a group, a civilization, where they can think together. It calls them away from primitiveness and toward awareness.

In the course of the story, Golding creates events and details that have many interpretations. Perhaps you can see a level of meaning in the story that we have not mentioned. Try to follow it all the way to the conclusion; see if it remains consistent and important.

The twins Sam and Eric are among the first to arrive after the conch is sounded. Piggy can't tell them apart or keep their names straight.

Along the beach comes a band of choirboys dressed in black robes and moving as one creature. The creature is led by Jack Merridew, and the association of Jack with a black creature is an important foreshadowing. We are told that Jack is redheaded and quick to anger. We see Jack make the choirboys stand at attention in the sun until one boy, Simon, faints.

Jack wants to know who is in charge. Ralph introduces himself and invites Jack to join the group. In an attempt to establish order, Piggy tries to learn all the names. Jack mocks Piggy by calling him "Fatty." Ralph quickly defends him but reveals Piggy's nickname, and Jack's ridicule becomes worse. The entire group laughs at Piggy.

This early scene sets up the conflict and reveals the direction the story will take. Ralph shows his basic goodness by defending Piggy and his ineptness by giving away the nickname. Jack's treatment of Piggy calls attention to his dangerous nature and sheds light on his future relationship with Piggy. Piggy is upset that everyone knows and ridicules his name; this makes him vulnerable before the group and especially with Jack.

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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Lord of the Flies by William Golding-Free Summary
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