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Lord of the flies - 2.Version - Referat

Lord of the flies

“Maybe, […] maybe there is a beast. What I mean is... Maybe it´s only us” (S.147f)
With this quote I want to introduce my presentation about the book “Lord of the flies” from William Golding.

The Author

William Golding was born on 19th of September in the year 1911 in St. Columb Minor in Cornwall. His father was a teacher at the Marlborough Grammar School in Wiltshire. William himself went to this school for 9 years until he started to study natural sciences in Oxford. But after two years he changed to English literature. After graduating from Oxford, he worked as a theatre actor and director, wrote poetry, and then became a schoolteacher. On 30th of September 1939 he married his wife Ann Brookfield and one year later William´s son David was born. In the year 1940, one year after England had entered the second World War, Golding joined the Royal Navy, where he served in command of a rocket-launcher and participated in the invasion of Normandy. On July 1945 his daughter Judith Diana was born and William left the Navy.
On September 1954 “Lord of the flies” was published. 1983 he was awarded with the Nobel Prize for Literature. William Golding died on 19th June 1995 as a result of a heart attack.

Historical Background

The quote “Didn´t you hear what the pilot said? About the atom bomb? They´re all dead. “ (S.17) from the book points to the fact that the historical background is the East-West-Conflict between the USA and the Sowjetunion. This conflict ended in the Cold War. Also the Korea War (1950-1953) could be seen as a historical background for the book “Lord of the flies”.

Golding´s ideas had been shaped by these experiences.

But not only history inspired him to write “Lord of the flies”. Also Robert Michael Ballantyne´s book “The Coral Island” contributed quite a bit to it. Golding has taken some motives from “The coral island”, for example the action is set in a tropical island or the pig hunting. Both books are Robinsonades. A Robinsonade is a literary genre named after the novel “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe.

The main characters

-Ralph is a 12 year old son of a naval officer and was elected to be the group leader. He´s charismatic, civilised and responsible and tries to introduce democratic rules.
-Jack Merridew is the opposite of Ralph and is described in the book as follows:

“Inside the floating cloak he was tall, thin , and bony: and his hair was red beneath the black cap. His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of this face stared two light blue eyes, frustrated now, and turning, or ready to turn, to anger.”

This personal description is the typical literary portrayal for the Death.
Jack, who just wants to be addressed with his surname, is also the leader of the choir and very arrogant. The two following quotes show that Jack doesn't speak very well and doesn't like talkative persons.

“” Ralph – I'll split up the choir – my hunters, that is – into groups, and we'll be responsible for keeping the fire going -”” (S.70)
“You're talking too much[...]” (S.32)
Jack is fanatically to kill and very brutal.

-Piggy is a very introverted and intelligent, fat boy, who has asthma. His dad and mother died so he´s used to live with his aunt, who has a sweet-shop. Piggy was always allowed to get as many sweets he wanted. Because of that he´s fat. Also he´s wearing glasses since he was three years old. These glasses assigned an extremely high value in the story, because with these glasses the boys are able to make fire.

-Simon has a very public-spirited attitude and acts in a responsible way. For example he helped Ralph to construct shelters for the others. But nobody thanks him. He realised that the only beast is the man himself. → Like I told in the beginning of my presentation. Later Simon is killed by the other boys during a hunting ritual.

-Roger is a member of Jacks choir. He´s very cruel and tortures boys following the instructions of Jack. Later he kills Piggy without any qualms.

A few further persons are:
the twins Sam and Eric
Percival Wemys Madison
and a Naval officer


First of all the book is subdivided into 12 chapters and has the same construction as a classical drama.
The first chapter forms the exposition. Chapter 2-7 form the rising action. Chapter 8-9 the climax. Chapter 9-11 form the falling action and chapter 12 forms the end.

The summary:

A plane crashes over a tropical island. All adults die and just a group of British boys survive the accident. These boys are all between 6 and 12 years old. Ralph and Piggy encounter each other at
the beach, where they find a conch. Ralph blows the conch to call the other boys. They hold an election and vote Ralph for the chief. Jack is unhappy with this decision, but the choir belongs to him. After exploring the island Jack suggests to light a fire on the mountain, to be seen by planes or ships. Jack and Ralph light the fire with Piggys glasses. But the fire causes a forest fire and obviously a little boy dies. With time, Jack and Ralph drift apart from each other, because Ralph envies Jack for hunting pigs and Jack, who´s responsible for the fire, lets the fire go out. One day Jack tries with his tribe to overthrow chief Ralph, but they fail. Since this day they´re two groups on the island: Jack with his tribe, also called the hunters, and the group around Ralph. Every time the hunters have killed a pig, they are roasting it on a open fire and dancing around it. One Day when Ralph and his group had attended to one of this rituals, the boys kill Simon, who was a member of Ralphs group. The next day Piggys glasses are stolen by Jack. Piggy, Ralph and the twins Sam and Eric want to get them back, but on their way the hunters kill Piggy, capture the twins and chase Ralph. They light a forest fire to drive him out of his hiding place. Just before the tribe can catch him, a naval officer appears on the beach. He had come to the island with a cutter of a naval ship, after he has seen the smoke of the forest fire and wants to rescue the boys.

But now to the question, why is the book named “Lord of the flies”?
Well, One day a dead parachutist felt and his parachute got tangled up in the trees. Jack, Ralph and Roger came across to the death parachutist and considered him a wild animal. Jack skewered a pigs head on a stick as a sacrificial offering for the wild animal. Around this head were many flies and so the name “Lord of the flies” was invented.

Conch: The conch is used in the book, to call the others to an assembly. Therefore the conch is an instrument of discipline and democracy.
In the end of chapter eight Simon has a imaginary conversation with the Lord of the flies. And now I want to read a part of this scene:
Simon´s head tilted slightly up. His eyes could not break away and the lord of the flies hung in the space before him.
“What are you doing out here all alone? Aren't you afraid of me?”
Simon shook.
“There isn't anyone to help you. Only me. And I'm the Beast.”
Simon's mouth laboured, brought fourth audible words.
“Pig's head on a stick”
“Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!” said the head.
For a moment or two the forest […] echoed with the parody of laughter.
“You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close […]! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?” (S.234f)

The Lord of the flies reminds the reader that the Beast must be searched in the inside of themselves.
So the journey of the boys in a uninhabited island is nothing else, than a journey to the inside of themselves.

An other motive is the fire. First the fire is something positive. It symbolises warmth and rescue and it's also important for grilling their food. But in the end it symbolises death and destruction, after the hunters lighted up the forest.

So in the end the book shows a dystopia. A dystopia is an imaginary place or state in which the living conditions are extremely bad.

The book is wrote in an exciting manner and the story is timeless. But sometimes the book is hard to read, because William Golding has tried to give every single character his one speech. For example Jack has a very simple speech, which is often interrupted.
But I can recommend the book to everybody.

-William Golding- Lord of the flies //Reclam
-Königs Erläuterungen – Lord of the flies
-Oxford dictionary

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