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MonkeyNotes-Lord of the Flies by William Golding-Free Booknotes Summary
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The novel begins with Ralph and Piggy meeting on the beach. They are part of a group of boys who were being evacuated from England due to the war and whose plane has crashed on a deserted island. Soon the whole group meets together, and Ralph is elected as their leader. They find a conch shell on the beach, and Ralph uses it as a symbol of his authority. Jack, the head of the choirboys who wants to be the leader, is made chief of the hunters, who arm themselves with wooden spears and utter war cries as they chase pigs.

Ralph, in his rationality, decides to light a fire on the mountaintop to serve as a signal to passing ships. Piggy's glasses are used to start the fire, and Jack's hunters are put in charge of keeping it burning. But the strong wind sets the whole forest on the mountaintop on fire. One of the small boys is lost in the blaze; it is the first foreshadowing that civilized life, like the fire, may grow out of control.

For the most part, life is aimless on the island. The smallest boys, called "littluns", stay together, play, eat too much, and give way to their fear in the nighttime, often crying loudly. Most of the older boys spend their time bathing in the lagoon, sleeping in the shade, or eating the plentiful fruit available in the jungle. Ralph spends much of his time building shelters to protect the boys, while Jack and his tribe are constantly off on a hunt. They are so involved in their pursuit of savagery that they even let the fire go out and miss being rescued by a passing ship. As time passes, all the boys become dirty and unkempt, an outward symbol of their interior disintegration.

After Jack kills the first pig, they all have a feast. A mock hunt is enacted round the fire with wild dancing and chanting. They even offer the pig's head as an offering to the Beast, which the boys are certain exists on the island. The Pig's head is soon covered with flies, and it becomes the "Lord of the Flies", a symbol of the boys' evil savagery.

One night there is a plane fight over the island while the boys are asleep. A dead parachutist lands on the island and gets entangled in the trees. When the wind blows, the parachute flaps and balloons, and the dead airman's head bobs up and down. Sam and Eric see this terrifying figure, and they tell everyone they have seen the beast. Fear grows in everyone. Ralph, Jack, and Roger climb the mountain to investigate the beast. Only Jack is brave enough to ascend to the top. When he spies the dead airman, he is convinced there is a beast and warns the others, causing fear to grow.

Ralph is now more concerned than ever about their rescue and about keeping the fire going. He grows angry at Jack and his hunters when they do not tend the fire as assigned. But Jack cares only about hunting; he does not seem to have a care about rules or being rescued. Because of him, things start degenerating, and he and Ralph constantly fight. Jack finally breaks away from the group and starts his own tribe at Castle Rock on the other side of the island. Most of the other boys follow him. Only Piggy, Sam, Eric, and some littluns remain with Ralph.

Once again Jack kills a pig and the others are invited to the feast. Now all the boys have painted themselves like savages. Simon, the visionary, is disturbed by the break-up of the group and wanders off alone into the jungle. There he sees the dead airman and realizes that there is no beast, only the poor man's dead body. He understands that the beast is only within a person's heart. He hurries to Castle Rock to inform the boys, who are dancing in frenzy after their feast. They mistake Simon for the beast and beat him with clubs and spears until he dies.

Ralph and Piggy feel ashamed of what has happened, and Ralph calls them accomplices, accepting part of the responsibility for Simon's death; but Jack and his hunters seem to have no remorse. They convince themselves that it was really the beast in disguise that they have destroyed. As a result of the murder, the rift between Jack and Ralph widens further. One night Jack and some of his hunters raid Ralph's remnant of a camp; they attack the boys, damage the shelters, and steal Piggy's glasses which they need to light the fire. Ralph and Piggy go to Castle Rock to demand the return of the glasses, for Piggy cannot even see. Roger, one of the guards at Castle Rock, pushes a boulder towards Piggy. It crushes and kills him. Under Jack's orders, the savages also capture Sam and Eric and force them to join their tribe. Now only Ralph is left, and in fear, he flees into the forest.

Jack is determined to do away with Ralph or force him to join his tribe as well. He orders his hunters to find his "enemy". When they locate Ralph hiding in a thicket, they roll boulders at him and set fire to the forest to smoke him out. He manages to run past the hunters and hide again. When they find his second hiding place and the burning forest begins to close in on him, Ralph has no choice but to run to the beach. He trips and falls in the sand. When he stands up, he is looking in the face of a naval officer. The smoke from the forest fire has attracted him to the island.

Soon all the boys start assembling on the beach, and the officer learns about their trauma, including the deaths of Simon and Piggy. He is horrified that British schoolboys can be so savage. As he scolds them, the boys start sobbing. They are relieved to be rescued, ashamed of their behavior, sad that they have lost their childhood innocence, and fearful about the evil ways of mankind, which they now understand.

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MonkeyNotes-Lord of the Flies by William Golding-Free Online Plot Synopsis


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