The Lord of the Flies: Chapter Summaries
Chapter 1: The Sound of the Shell
A boy climbs down some rocks toward a lagoon. He hears a voice from behind, which belongs to a short, fat kid. The first boy decides the two are on an island free of grownups, which delights him. The fat boy asks about the whereabouts of the pilot. It is revealed that the two were aboard a plane when it was attacked.
The first boy introduces himself as Ralph. After some time later, the other boy asks that he not be referred to his nickname from home – Piggy. Ralph laughs hysterically at the name. Piggy wears glasses and has asthma.
The two study the beach, wondering if anyone else is around. The two find a pink conch shell in the sand. Piggy suggests Ralph blow into it to call other stranded boys near the beach. After some effort, Ralph manages to blare a signal that rings through the beach. Children start to appear out of the trees. The kids range in age from 6 to 12.
A group of choir boys appear, marching in formation. They are lead by Jack, who barks orders to the boys. Jack calls Piggy “Fatty”, but Ralph informs him of his real nickname to uproarious sounds of laughter.
Ralph suggests the group declare a chief and Jack nominates himself. The matter is put to a vote. The choir votes for Jack and the remainder of the group votes for Ralph. Ralph wins the prize Jack clearly wanted. In concession, Ralph says Jack can be the leader of the choir in their role as hunters.
Ralph’s first act as leader is to explore the area to confirm whether or not it is an island. He chooses Jack and a choir boy named Simon to accompany him. Piggy wants to come, but is told to stay behind. Following Ralph, Piggy confronts him about telling the boys about his nickname. Ralph feels remorse, saying “Piggy” is better than “Fatty” and apologizes. He tells Piggy to return to the other boys to take names.
The three boys bond on their adventure exploring the land. They climb to its highest point and confirm that they are clearly on an island. They conclude that it appears uninhabited.
The boys begin their trek back to the beach. On the way, they find a wild boar tangled in branches. Jack reveals his knife and readies to stab it. Fearing the brutality, he is unable to strike before the pig frees itself.
Chapter 2: Fire on the Mountain
When the explorers return, Ralph blows the conch shell to commence a new meeting. He announces the findings of the exploration. He says it is a good island and they will have fun until they are rescued. Jack promises he will kill a boar eventually, stabbing a tree trunk with his knife. Ralph agrees on the need for hunters.
Ralph proclaims that everyone will only speak when holding the conch and will listen silently as others speak. Piggy seizes the conch and points out that no one knows where they are and they may be on the island for a long time before being rescued. His speech leaves the audience scared and silent. A young boy with a berry-stained face asks what the boys intend to do about a snake he saw. The older boys try to convince the younger ones that he is mistaken and there is no snake, or “beastie”.
The meeting starts to lose order. Ralph rouses the group by insisting that his father will rescue him. The speech is well-received and Ralph is accepted as a leader. Ralph suggests they keep a fire going on the tallest mountain to signal their presence. Immediately, the boys excitedly head toward the mountain, leaving Ralph and Piggy behind. Piggy complains about the childish exuberance of the group.
The boys joyously build a pile of wood at the top of the mountain. With the pile built, Jack and Ralph embarrassingly admit they do not know how to start the fire. No one has any matches. Then, Piggy arrives, holding the conch. Jack snatches Piggy’s glasses to start the fire. The fire burns and quickly peters out. Piggy demands the boys listen to him because he is holding the conch. Jack says the conch does not count outside the meetings, but Ralph overrules him. Piggy criticizes the disorganized group. Ignoring Piggy, Jack volunteers his choir to look after the fire.
In the chaotic effort to relight the fire, the boys set some trees on fire. Enraged, Piggy rips into the boys and the decision to light the fire before building shelters. He calls the boys childish as he gasps for breath. He says the fire is useless right now, which now threatens to spread. He admits he did not get a proper count of everyone because they all scattered when he tried. He asks if anyone has seen the child that had asked about the snake. Everyone looks around, searching for the boy’s berry-stained face.
Chapter 3: Huts on the Beach
Jack tracks a boar in the forest. He throws a spear, but the pig escapes. Jack’s hair is longer, his pants in tatters. Frustrated, he leaves the forest and returns to the beach.
Back on the beach, Ralph struggles to build shelters with Simon. The houses keep collapsing before they can be completed. Ralph complains that none of the boys help with the building of the shelters, despite their excitement when the projects are planned at the meetings. The boys would rather splash around in the bathing pool or eat berries than help Ralph. Jack corrects him, adding that the hunters work.
Ralph reminds Jack that none of the hunters have managed to kill anything. Jack expresses his frustration in the failed hunting expeditions, zealously proclaiming his ability to kill. Ralph mentions that the young kids, or “littluns”, do not appear to be sleeping well. Simon suggests they may still be frightened of the “beastie”. Jack and Ralph flinch at the suggestion. No one is allowed to mention snakes.
Jack continues talking about hunting, saying that sometimes he feels like he is being hunted as well. Ralph says the best thing they could do is get themselves rescued. Jack is still preoccupied with hunting, saying he would like to catch a pig before they are rescued. Ralph reminds Jack of the fire and Jack responds exasperated at Ralph’s fixation on it. The two hike to a position where they can see the fire. Ralph is not happy with the amount of smoke from the fire.
Jack continues talking about hunting. Ralph accuses Jack of being obsessed with hunting while the shelters remain in ruins. He adds that hunting does not really count as work because Jack enjoys it.
The two notice Simon is missing. They speculate that he has gone for a bath or for some fruit. Ralph calls him strange. The two head toward the bathing pool. Jack says he might go hunting after a bath and dinner. Ralph reminds him that the sun is setting. The two reach the pool. After some splashing, the tension lifts.
Simon walks along the beach to find a pile of sand where someone had been trying to build a hut. He frowns and enters the forest. He walks through the fruit trees, helping the littluns get fruit. He hikes further into the forest, looking over his shoulder to confirm he is alone. He takes in the peaceful forest, in awe of its beauty.
Chapter 4: Painted Faces and Long Hair
Life becomes routine. In the early hours of morning, the boys play in the mild weather. Toward midday, the heat becomes unbearable and the boys hide in the shade. The boys are confused by the illusion of land out in the sea. Piggy says it is only a mirage. The sun relents, allowing for some more mild weather, but the difficult night comes quickly. The littlun Percival appears to have had a breakdown.
The littluns lead a life distinct from the biguns. They eat fruit most of the day, not paying attention to ripeness. They get used to stomach aches and chronic diarrhea. The attend the daily meetings for some connection to authority, respect for Ralph, and enjoyment. They build intricate sand castles.
One day Roger and Maurice stomp through the sand castles. Maurice fleas the scene after feeling guilt over kicking sand in young Percival’s eyes. Roger stalks Henry and throws stones at him, aiming to miss. Henry throws back, influenced by ingrained behavior expectations from the authorities of his former life, also aims to miss.
Jack camouflages his face with charcoal and clay and disappears in the woods to hunt with some other boys. Meanwhile, Piggy remains an outsider. He suggests to Ralph to build a sun dial and is ridiculed.
Piggy and Ralph see a ship on the horizon but also notice the signal fire is out. Ralph races to the top of the mountain, but it is too late and the ship is gone. Furious, he sees Jack come out of the woods with several boys carrying a slain pig. They sing a strange chant: “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood.”
The group is excited and full of chatter. Ralph tries to tell Jack he let the fire go out, but Jack is too excited to mind. Ralph tells the group about the ship and the celebration dies. Ralph chastises Jack for promising to keep the fire going and not following through. Piggy echos Ralph’s sediment and Jack punches Piggy in the gut, calling him “Fatty.” He strikes again, this time to his face.
Piggy’s glasses fly, shattering one side on the rocks. Jack apologies for letting the fire die, but Ralph does not accept it, ordering Jack to restart the fire.
Using Piggy’s broken glasses, the hunters start the fire again and cook the pig meat. They laugh, dance, and reenact the hunt. Ralph announces he will be calling a meeting and heads down the mountain.
Chapter 5: Beast from the Water
Ralph reflects on the way back to the beach about how life is mostly improvisation and how much time is spent staring at ones feet. He grows frustrated with his long hair brushing his eyes and the shorts chafing his thighs. As he readies to start the meeting, he recognizes Piggy’s intelligence and wishes he could think better as chief. This meeting is held at the latest time to date. Ralph blows the conch and the boys gather at the meeting spot.
Ralph declares they need serious meetings where things are not only agreed, but carried out. He reminds the boys that they agreed to keep water in coconut shells on the beach. He complains that while everyone built the first shelter, the second was built by only four and the third was built by him and Simon. He warns that the shelters are not very well built and may fall at the next rain. He then tries to lecture the boys about where to use the bathroom, but has to fight through snickers. He says that the boys should die before letting the fire go out and restricts fires to the mountain.
Ralph concludes his speech by blaming the deterioration of the camp on fear and urges everyone to get over their fears of beasts or monsters. Jack grabs the conch and seconds Ralph’s assertion that the littlums get over their fears, calling them cry babies. He insists he has not seen any beast on his hunts. Piggy agrees with Jack’s conclusion that there is no beasts. However, he introduces a new fear of other people.
The littluns share tales of nightmares and beast sightings. One littlun says the beast comes from the sea, which frightens even the older boys. The meeting degrades to chaos. Jack and Piggy enter into a disagreement. Ralph urges Jack to follow the rules of the conch, saying the rules are they only thing they have. Jack declares he and his hunters will hunt and kill the beast. He leaves the meeting area and the others follow, leaving only Piggy, Ralph, and Simon. The hunters begin to dance and chant.
Piggy urges Ralph to summon the boys back by blowing the conch. Ralph refuses, saying that if it is ignored all order will be lost. Ralph considers relinquishing leadership, but Simon and Piggy insist the camp needs him. Ralph longs for some grown-up wisdom. The boys go to sleep to the sound of Percival sobbing.
Chapter 6: Beast from the Air
Ralph and Simon drag Percival into the shelters. As the boy sleep, military activity takes place above the island. A parachuted figure drifts down, delivering its lifeless parcel to the ground near the top of the mountain. The breeze manipulates the parachute, moving the figure back and forth, casting spooky shadows. The twins, Sam and Eric, wake from falling asleep on fire duty. They tend to the dead fire. As the fire rekindles, the two see the twisted shadows of the parachutist.
They awake Ralph and he calls a meeting. The twins tell their story, covered in scars from rushing through the bushes. Jack declares they should hunt the beast down. Piggy suggests they stay on the beach. They agree to hunt, leaving Piggy on the beach to look after the littluns.
Jack says this will not be a normal hunt because the beast leaves no tracks. The meeting degrades to chaos again and Ralph pushes the need to follow the conch rule. Jack says there is no need for the shell any more, much to the anger of Ralph. The boys agree to check an area they have not yet explored and then return to the mountain to relight the fire.
Ralph lets Jack lead the hunt. When they reach the unexplored area, the boys are too scared to move forward on a walkway being crushed by waves. Ralph volunteers to scout ahead. Simon tells Ralph he does not believe in the beast before Ralph timidly moves into the new land.
A few moments later, Jack is behind him, saying he could not let Ralph do it alone. The two find a cave, which Jack says would make a fine fort. Ralph comments that there is no fresh water, but Jack finds a trickle of water sheltered in the rocks. Ralph still thinks it is a rotten place to set up camp. Jack can already see defensive tactics for the area.
Ralph reminds Jack of the fire signal and stresses the need to return to the mountain. Jack dismisses Ralph’s urgency, but Ralph continues to push the idea, adding that the mountain is where the twins saw the beast. The other boys join them in the new area and play. They push rocks into the sea while Ralph attempts to restore order. Some boys want to return to the beach while others want to stay and make a fort. In the end, the boys grudgingly leave the area, heading for the mountain.
Chapter 7: Shadows and Tall Trees
The boys stop to eat on the way to the mountain. Ralph yearns for a haircut, bath, and toothbrush. He studies his nails to find them nibbled down, but he cannot remember restarting the nail biting habit. The other boys look dirty and unkempt as well.
Ralph gazes at the vastness of the ocean, dreading that rescue was impossible. Just then, Simon appears, telling Ralph he will eventually get home. Ralph is reassured and the two smile at each other. The group finds pig droppings and Jack suggests they hunt for the pig while they hunt for the beast. Ralph agrees, as long as the hunt takes them in the right direction. He leans against a tree to daydream. He flashes back to his home and remembers watching snowflakes, reading, and eating corn flakes. Everything was innocent then.
The boys stir up a massive boar, which runs toward Ralph. Ralph throws his spear. It hits the pig’s snout and hangs there for a moment. Ralph swells with pride, telling everyone excitedly that he managed to wound the boar. He is caught up in the exhilaration of the hunt and suddenly, hunting is not so bad. Jack proudly displays his arm bloodied from the tusks of the boar.
The boar escapes, but the boys are still animated. They dance, chant, and reenact the hunt with Robert playing the boar. They encircle the boy and rush him. He screams in mock terror and then in actual pain. Even Ralph gets caught up in the mock hunt as he pokes the boy with his spear. Jack brandishes his knife. Robert squirms in pain and the group cheers.
The game ends and Ralph reminds the boys that it was in fact just a game. Robert suggests they use a real boar for the game next time and Jack jokes that they use a littlun instead.
Following the game, Ralph decides someone should go back and tell Piggy they will not be back until later. Simon volunteers and disappears into the wood. Jack wants to climb the mountain in search of the beast. Ralph agrees after some taunting from Jack. Jack, Ralph, and Roger climb the mountain. Roger and Ralph wait near the top as Jack scouts ahead. He returns frightened, claiming to have seen a bulging figure. Roger and Ralph climb to the top to have a look. They see the bowing silhouette of what looks like a great ape, making flapping noises in the wind.
Chapter 8: Gift for the Darkness
The three frightened boys convince Piggy of what they saw at the top of the mountain. Ralph says the beast had teeth with black eyes. He says the monster is so scary, even Jack would hide. The beast waits near the fire, preventing the boys from tending to it. Ralph declares the rescue plan finished.
Ralph questions Jack’s hunters’ ability to defeat the monster. Jack blows the conch, calling a meeting and offending Ralph. Jack calls Ralph a coward. He says Ralph questioned the hunters abilities to fight the beast. He calls for Ralph to be removed from power. When none of the other boys vote to oust him, Jack says he is leaving the group and disappears in the forest.
Piggy says the group can do without Jack and suggests moving the fire down to the beach. Immediately, the group excitedly builds a new fire. The littluns dance and Ralph is filled with new hope. Some of the boys sneak off to join Jack. Piggy does not think it is much of a loss. They suspect Simon has gone to climb the mountain. Piggy thinks Simon has cracked. In fact, Simon returns to his place in the jungle where he admires nature.
Jack declares himself chief of the new tribe, saying hunting will be their focus. They will not be worrying about the beast. The boys stalk and kill a pig with the plan to offer some meat and lure other boys to the new tribe. They leave its head on a stick as an offering for the beast. Simon is left looking at the grotesque “Lord of the Flies”.
Piggy and Ralph sit around the fire, contemplating the deserters and work required to keep the fire going. Jack and his boys appear, nearly naked and painted. Two boys run straight for the fire, grabbing half-burnt branches. Jack announces the group has killed a pig and invites them to a feast on another beach. Jack and his group disperses. Ralph makes a clumsy speech about the need to keep the fire going. Some of the boys voice their desire to eat meat and be hunters.
Back in the clearing, Simon stares at the head on the stick. The head is now swarming with flies. It speaks to the boy, taunting him. The Lord of the Flies declares itself the beast, something Simon will never be able to escape, something inside of all human beings. Simon loses himself in the hallucination and faints.
Chapter 9: A View to a Death
An approaching storm leaves the island unbearably hot and humid. Simon awakes in the clearing, his nose bleeding. The Lord of the Flies is quiet. He fights the strong wind and hikes up the mountain to find the twisted corpse tied to a flapping parachute. Aware that the boys must have confused this for the beast, he untangles the parachute. He heads toward the fire light of Jack’s camp, eager to tell everyone about his find.
At the original camp, Ralph once again complains about the littluns bathing all day. Many of the boys are missing, gone to the feast at Jack’s beach. Piggy suggests maybe he and Ralph go too and make sure nothing happens. The two approach the celebration to see greasy, smiling faces. The painted Jack sits like a king on a throne.
The presence of Ralph brings tension to the group. Jack orders his new servants to bring the new attendees meat. Jack barks more orders to his tribe and tells the rest of the group to sit. He asks who will join his tribe, promising meat, fun, and protection from the beast.
Ralph struggles to convince the others not to run for the food when he did the same thing. More people pledge allegiance to the new tribe. Ralph argues that his tribe has the fire and the conch, which he forgot to bring. The skies open and rain starts to fall. Ralph says his camp has shelters to protect everyone from the storm. Jack calls for the tribe dance, where they reenact the pig hunt and chant. They dance to clashes of thunder and lightening. Even Ralph and Piggy dance at the outer edges, eager to be apart of the spectacle.
They chant: “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” Simon stumbles out of the woods yelling something about a dead man on a hill. In the excitement, they confuse Simon for the beast. They descend on the young boy, tearing him apart with their hands and teeth. Simon struggles, still trying to communicate his message from the mountain. They brutally murder him.
In the dark, they marvel at how small the beast is while Simon’s blood stains the sand. The rain intensifies. The wind shots the parachuted corpse off the mountain and onto the beach, sending screaming boys into the darkness. The wind fills the parachute, launching the corpse into the sea. The sea rises and claims Simon and carries him off surrounded by glowing fish.
Chapter 10: The Shell and the Glasses
The only biguns left on the camp are the twins. Ralph is preoccupied with the events of the night before. Ralph believes he participated in murder. Piggy argues that it was an accident, where everyone was scared while dancing in the chaotic dark storm. Ralph rocks erratically, laughing and cradling the conch.
Piggy adds that Simon had no right bursting out of the forest like that. He was batty and he asked for it, Piggy says. Ralph fires back, saying Piggy managed to stay out of the fray and did not see the brutality up close. Sam and Eric approach. Both parties, uncomfortably claim to have left the festivities early, before the dancing started.
Meanwhile, Jack is ruling his camp like a tyrant. Boys are being punished for no apparent reason. One boy named Wilfred has been tied up for hours with a beating surly to follow. The camp has been relocated to Castle Rock, the area that was first explored when the boys searched for the beast.
Jack says some of the boys will hunt tomorrow and the rest will stay behind to defend against certain sabotage from Ralph’s camp. Jack believes the beast disguised itself as Simon the night before, but they failed to kill it. He announces that they will hunt soon and later he and two other boys will steal fire from Ralph’s camp.
Ralph, Piggy, Sam, and Eric struggle to keep the fire going. Eric says he cannot stand to carry any more wood for what seems like a hopeless purpose. The four biguns give up on the fire and retire to the shelters. Ralph reminisces and his sleep is accompanied by nightmares. Later in the night, Piggy wakes Ralph, saying he hears something outside.
After a moment of silence, they hear a stick break. They squirm, thinking the beast lurks outside. Something calls for Piggy. Suddenly, the shelter is assaulted. The boys pound the intruders, unaware of the reason for the attack. The attackers flea and the boys survey the damage. They are bloodied and bruised but proud of the fight they brought. Ralph assumes they were after the conch. He runs to the platform and sees the shell still sitting in its place by the chief’s seat. Piggy corrects him, helplessly asking what he is to do.
Far off, three figures skip and cartwheel along the bath toward Castle Rock. Jack makes stabbing motions with his spear, dangling Piggy’s broken glasses from his other hand.
Chapter 11: Castle Rock
The next morning, Ralph and his few remaining tribe mates try unsuccessfully to relight the fire. The boys are bloodied and bruised from the battle the night before. The blinded Piggy suggests Ralph call an assembly to decide the next steps. They walk to the platform and Ralph blows the conch as loud as he can. Some littluns spill out of the shelters.
Piggy grabs the conch and declares the need to retrieve his glasses. Ralph takes back the conch. He reflects on how simple it should have been to keep a signal fire going. Now the other tribe has stolen Piggy’s glasses when they would have gladly given them some fire. Now the signal fire is out and rescue is impossible. The small tribe decides to visit Castle Rock to try to talk some sense into them.
The four disheveled boys hike to the location of the other camp. They bring along the conch to perhaps remind the new tribe of the civility of the past. At the entrance to the camp, the group is greeted by war cries and warnings. Ralph blows the conch. Painted savages appear, armed with spears and guarding the entrance. Ralph says he is calling an assembly. The savages snicker and aim their spears. Jack’s tribe starts throwing stones, aiming to miss.
Jack appears out of the forest, leading hunters carrying a headless sow. Ralph demands Jack return the glasses. Jack jabs at Ralph with his spear and the two square off. Ralph relaxes his spear and once again communicates the need for the signal fire. Jack orders his tribe to surround the twins, which they do reluctantly. Jack then orders them to tie the twins up. The tribe obeys and Jack marvels at their obedience. This enrages Ralph and he charges. The two chiefs clash.
Piggy’s voice is heard above the melee, saying he has the conch. The group silences, waiting for whatever amusing thing Piggy has to say. The boys located high on a hill continue to throw rocks. Piggy, still holding the conch, tries to convince the boys that order with possibility of rescue is better than a savage society centered around hunting.
Jack and Ralph fight again. Roger shoves a massive rock over the hill. It hits Piggy, crushing the conch and sending Piggy to his death on the rocks below. Silence follows, broken by Jack’s threats. Ralph escapes, leaving the twins to be tortured by Jack, who orders them to join his tribe.
Chapter 12: Cry of the Hunters
Ralph hides in the forest. He surveys the enemy tribe members. They are painted, nearly unrecognizable from their former selves. Ralph contemplates the death of Piggy and Simon, trying to justify their deaths as accidents. He finds the Lord of the Flies, now a white skull gleaming like the conch once did. He breaks the skull and takes the stake to use as a weapon against Jack.
Ralph lurks outside Castle Rock, scouting the guards. He finds Sam and Eric guarding the compound. Ralph feels even more alone, his hopes to establish an outlaw tribe dashed. The ashamed twins tell Ralph he needs to leave. They were forced to join the tribe, they say. They inform Ralph the tribe intends to hunt and kill him tomorrow. Roger has sharpened a stick at both ends.
Ralph spends the night in a nearby thicket, thinking they would not think to look for him this close to the camp. There he gnaws at a piece of meat the twins gave him. The next morning, he is awoken by battle cries. The tribe forms a line across the island to inspect every piece. Later, he hears Roger and Jack torture the twins to reveal where Ralph is hiding. He is found, but the thicket is dense and secure.
The tribe pushes two massive rocks onto the thicket, but Ralph survives the attack. Then someone thrusts his spear into the thicket. Ralph fights back, wounding the attacker. Their next tactic is lighting the thicket on fire. Ralph is forced to abandon his hiding place. He wiggles through the tunnel, finding an exit guarded by a savage. He lunges out of the thicket, knocking over the savage, and exploding into a sprint through the forest. He hears battle cries, signaling the hunt is resuming.
Ralph searches the undergrowth for an ideal hiding place. The fire from the ticket spreads. A savage finds his new hiding spot and Ralph screams and burst through, running again through the open. He runs to the beach to discover a naval officer who saw the smoke from the forest fire.
The naval officer sees the boys chasing Ralph and assumes they are playing games. Ralph explains that two boys have died. He says he assumes British boys would perform better and not degrade to savagery so quickly. Emotions overwhelm Ralph and he burst into tears. The other young boys follow. The naval officer, moved and embarrassed, turns his back to allow the young boys to regroup.