Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
Section One
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Contents (click to go straight to each chapter)
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
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Unit introduction
In this unit we will be looking at the novel Lord of the Flies
written by William Golding.
There are three presentations in this unit and in each you
will be completing a variety of activities to develop your
knowledge and understanding of the characters, themes
and language of the text.
Before we begin looking at the novel itself, it will be useful
to first explore the background to Lord of the Flies, finding
out about William Golding and the context of his novel.
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Historical and political background
Lord of the Flies was written in the early 1950s.
Do you know anything about this period?
In the early 1950s Britain was living in in the aftermath of
World War II. Following the war, the full extent of the
horrific Nazi regime was being revealed.
This was a time of political unrest – the USSR and the
Western powers were engaged in The Cold War. This war
(called a ‘cold’ war because there was no direct fighting)
started because of a fear of the communist USSR
dominating all of Eastern Europe and developing nuclear
A popular slogan at the time was ‘Better Dead than Red’.
The ‘Reds’ was a nickname for communists.
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About the author
Name: William Golding
Dates: Born in 1911 in Cornwall, England. Died in 1993.
Career: Published a book of poetry in 1934 and went on to
work as a schoolmaster and then serve in the Royal Navy
during World War II. Following the war, Golding began writing
again and Lord of the Flies, his first novel, was published in
Golding wrote twelve other novels, and a play. He was
awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988, and was
knighted in 1983.
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Novel background
Having witnessed the true horrors of war, Golding lost faith
in the idea that humans are inherently good and innocent.
He believed that even children could be evil and thought:
Wouldn’t it be a good idea
to write a story about some
boys on an island showing how they
would really behave, being boys and not
little saints as they usually are in
children’s novels?
Based on Golding’s idea for Lord of the Flies, what
do you predict might happen in the novel?
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Literary context
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Chapter One summary
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From reading Chapter One, what do we know about where
and when Lord of the Flies is set?
We are not told anything specific about the place and
time of year in which events of the story happen.
But what basic things do we know?
There is a queen in England.
The enemy are the “Reds”.
Nuclear war has destroyed much of the world.
They are on a tropical island with a coral base so it is
probably in the Indian or Pacific oceans.
Are we told anything else about the setting?
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Golding does not provide a map for his readers to show us
what the island is like. We learn about the setting as the
boys move about the island exploring their new
Draw your own map of the island, adding on all the
significant places so far. You will be able to add to this
map as we read the novel.
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Ralph and Piggy
Ralph and Piggy are the first people we meet in the novel
and are very different in background and character.
We can see this in their contrasting reactions to being
stranded on the island:
‘…the delight of a realised ambition
overcame him…“No grown-ups!”’
Ralph’s excitement
suggests he is
and fearless
Piggy repeats
himself, indicating ‘“They’re all dead,” said Piggy, “an’ this is
an island. Nobody don’t know we’re here.
he is very
Your dad don’t know, nobody don’t know…’’’
Now select two more quotes which show us Piggy and
Ralph’s feelings about their situation.
How would you feel if you were stranded on an island?
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Ralph profile
Tall, blonde
hair, athletic.
Relationships with others
Piggy and others look up to
him, friendly with Jack.
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seems to be a
good leader.
Father a
Naval officer.
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Piggy profile
Fat, asthmatic
and shortsighted.
Relationships with others
Fears Jack, is taunted by
others because of nickname.
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Intelligent and
sensible –
teaches Ralph
how to blow the
conch, suggests
making a list
of names.
Orphan, lives
with aunt.
to others.
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What is foreshadowing?
It is a technique of suggesting to the reader that something
will happen later in the story.
This is usually something bad, and therefore
foreshadowing creates a sense of tension and anticipation.
At the end of Chapter One, Jack has failed to kill the pig:
‘He snatched his knife out of the sheath and slammed
it into a tree trunk. Next time there would be no
mercy. He looked round fiercely, daring them to
What does this tell us about Jack?
What could this event be foreshadowing?
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Jack profile
Thin, red hair
and freckles,
Relationships with others
Dominates the choir. Likes
Ralph but takes an immediate
dislike to Piggy.
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Bossy and
rude – orders
the choir about.
Leader of the
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Choosing a leader
What qualities do you think a good leader should have?
Ralph is elected as leader on the island.
Why do the boys choose him?
Would Jack or Piggy make better leaders?
Now you can cast your vote!
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Chapter Two summary
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By Chapter Two we can already see tensions developing
between the boys, particularly Jack and Piggy.
What is Piggy’s attitude towards the behaviour of the
other boys?
What do you think his role will be on the island?
Acting like a crowd of kids!
Piggy is established as something of an outsider because
of his appearance and sensible outlook.
Can you think of any other figures from books or
films who don’t fit in?
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The beast
It is in Chapter Two that we first hear of the beast.
Read again the passage which begins ‘He wants to know
what you’re going to do about the snake-thing’ and ends
‘The assembly was silent.’
Do you think a beast really exists?
On the next slide match the characters to their
reactions when they are told of
the beast, and consider
what their reactions
reveal about them.
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The beast
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The conch
In Chapter One Ralph blows the conch to bring everyone
together. In Chapter Two he decides that anyone who wishes
to speak in assembly must first be holding the conch:
‘“I’ll give the conch to the next person
to speak. He can hold it when he’s
speaking … And he won’t be interrupted.”’
What does the conch represent, or
stand for?
Because of its two important functions
on the island, the conch is more than simply just a shell. As
the item which is used to call assembly and determine who
can speak, the conch is powerful. It is symbolic of
authority and democracy on the island.
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What is a ‘democracy’?
A democracy is a society in which everyone is entitled to
a say, and decisions are reached by majority rule.
Fairness and freedom of speech are key aspects
of a democracy.
Think about Ralph’s decisions as chief, and the way in
which he was elected as leader in the first place.
Would you say that the ‘society’ on the island is a
democratic society?
If Jack had been voted as leader, do you think he
would try to rule the island in a fair and democratic
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Language in Lord of the Flies
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In Chapter One, Ralph examines his surroundings:
The palm trees seem like people
lazing in the sun, giving us a sense
of how peaceful the island is.
Imagery is used to create a picture
in the reader’s head of a beautiful
island, full of many colours.
The shore was fledged with palm trees. These stood or
leaned or reclined against the light and their green
feathers were a hundred feet up in the air … The lagoon
was still as a mountain lake – blue of all shades and
shadowy green and purple.
A metaphor is used to make us
think of the leaves as light and soft.
Simile is used to emphasize
just how calm and serene
the lagoon is.
What impression of the island do you get from this
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In Chapter One we get an impression of the island as
beautiful and calm, but there is also a dark side to the island.
This is suggested in Chapter Two by the possible presence of
a beast on the island and also by the raging fire.
Here is part of Golding’s description of the fire:
‘Small flames stirred at the bole of a tree and crawled away
through leaves and brushwood, dividing and increasing. One patch
touched a tree trunk and scrambled up like a bright squirrel.’
Can you identify the language devices that Golding
has used here?
What is the effect of Golding describing the fire in
this way?
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Which language device?
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Chapter Three summary
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Jack and Ralph have very different priorities and are both
strong-minded characters who fight to get their points
Who do you agree with? Should the fire and shelter really
be the main priority as Ralph says, or is hunting and having
fun just as important, as Jack believes?
Up to this point in the story, do you think Ralph has been a
successful leader?
Think of three strengths and three
weaknesses of Ralph’s leadership
so far. Use evidence from the
text to support your points.
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Ralph’s strengths and weaknesses
Tries to be fair and
democratic, for example
when he made Jack
leader of the hunters.
Responsible – remains
focused on the rescue
Works hard – is building
shelters for everyone.
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Often struggles to
make decisions and
needs Piggy’s help.
Sometimes loses his
temper. As the leader he
should remain calm.
Single-minded – ignores
the importance of hunting
because he is so
focused on the fire.
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Ralph and Jack clash over most things but do seem to agree
over their opinion of Simon, whom they deem “funny”.
What are your impressions of Simon from
Chapter Three? Do you agree with Ralph and
Jack that he is strange?
Look again at the description of Simon in his secret
den in the jungle. How does Simon’s attitude towards
nature differ to that of the other boys?
Golding’s description of Simon’s den is effective
because it appeals to a number of senses,
enabling the reader to really picture the scene.
Pick out some examples of this sensory
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Simon profile
Small, physically
frail, black hair
and bright eyes.
Relationships with others
Loyal towards Piggy and Ralph.
Looked on as strange by the
other boys.
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Kind and helpful.
Introverted –
doesn’t like to
speak in
Likes nature.
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Chapter Four summary
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Read again from ‘Roger stooped, picked up a stone and
threw it at Henry’ to ‘Then Henry lost interest in stones…’.
What does this passage tell us
about the character of Roger?
Why does Roger not actually
intend to hit Henry?
Roger’s behaviour here foreshadows later events. What
could Golding be trying to prepare his readers for?
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Roger profile
Black hair,
gloomy face.
Relationships with others
Allied with Jack.
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Quiet and
Cruel – enjoys
picking on the
Is a choirboy.
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Chapter Four questions
In this chapter we again see Ralph and Jack in conflict
with one another. Why does this happen?
How does Simon come to Piggy’s aid
in this chapter? What do his actions
reveal about him?
How does Jack feel about having killed
the pig? Is it purely excitement and pride
he feels?
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Changing appearances
The title of Chapter Four – ‘Painted Faces and Long Hair’
is a reference to the way the appearances of the boys
have altered since they have been on the island.
In what ways do the boys look different to when
they first arrived on the island?
Jack’s appearance has changed most dramatically.
How does he feel when he
wears his ‘mask’?
How do the changes in Jack’s
physical appearance reflect his
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Character match
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Lord of the Flies - Section One