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The classic tale of a group of English school boys who are left stranded on an unpopulated island, and who must confront not only the defects of their society but the defects of their own natures.
THE SOUND OF THE SHELL
THE BOY WITH FAIR HAIR LOWERED HIMSELF down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon. Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, his grey shirt stuck to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead. All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat. He was clambering heavily among the creepers and broken trunks when a bird, a vision of red and yellow, flashed upwards with a witchlike cry; and this cry was echoed by another.
"Hi!" it said. "Wait a minute!"
The undergrowth at the side of the scar was shaken and a multitude of raindrops fell pattering.
"Wait a minute," the voice said. "I got caught up."
The fair boy stopped and jerked his stockings with an automatic gesture that made the jungle seem for a moment like the Home Counties.
The voice spoke again.
"I can't hardly move with all these creeper things."
The owner of the voice came backing out of the undergrowth so that twigs scratched on a greasy wind-breaker. The naked crooks of his knees were plump, caught and scratched by thorns. He bent down, removed the thorns carefully, and turned around. He was shorter than the fair boy and very fat. He came forward, searching out safe lodgments for his feet, and then looked up through thick spectacles.
"Where's the man with the megaphone?"
The fair boy shook his head.
"This is an island. At least I think it's an island. That's a reef out in the sea. Perhaps there aren't any grownups anywhere."
The fat boy looked startled.
"There was that pilot. But he wasn't in the passenger cabin, he was up in front."
The fair boy was peering at the reef through screwed-up eyes.
"All them other kids," the fat boy went on. "Some of them must have got out. They must have, mustn't they?"
The fair boy began to pick his way as casually as possible toward the water. He tried to be offhand and not too obviously uninterested, but the fat boy hurried after him.
"Aren't there any grownups at all?"
"I don't think so."
The fair boy said this solemnly; but then the delight of a realized ambition overcame him. In the middle of the scar he stood on his head and grinned at the reversed fat boy.
The fat boy thought for a moment.
The fair boy allowed his feet to come down and sat on the steamy earth.
"He must have flown off after he dropped us. He couldn't land here. Not in a place with wheels."
"We was attacked!"
"He'll be back all right."
The fat boy shook his head.
"When we was coming down I looked through one of them windows. I saw the other part of the plane. There were flames coming out of it."
He looked up and down the scar.
"And this is what the cabin done."
The fair boy reached out and touched the jagged end of a trunk. For a moment he looked interested.
"What happened to it?" he asked. "Where's it got to now?"
"That storm dragged it out to sea. It wasn't half dangerous with all them tree trunks falling. There must have been some kids still in it."
He hesitated for a moment, then spoke again.
"What's your name?"
The fat boy waited to be asked his name in turn but this proffer of acquaintance was not made; the fair boy called Ralph smiled vaguely, stood up, and began to make his way once more toward the lagoon. The fat boy hung steadily at his shoulder.
"I expect there's a lot more of us scattered about. You haven't seen any others, have you?"
Ralph shook his head and increased his speed. Then he tripped over a branch and came down with a crash.
The fat boy stood by him, breathing hard.
"My auntie told me not to run," he explained, "on account of my asthma."
"That's right. Can't catch my breath. I was the only boy in our school what had asthma," said the fat boy with a touch of pride. "And I've been wearing specs since I was three."
He took off his glasses and held them out to Ralph, blinking and smiling, and then started to wipe them against his grubby wind-breaker. An expression of pain and inward concentration altered the pale contours of his face. He smeared the sweat from his cheeks and quickly adjusted the spectacles on his nose.
He glanced round the scar.
"Them fruit," he said, "I expect—"
He put on his glasses, waded away from Ralph, and crouched down among the tangled foliage.
"I'll be out again in just a minute—"
Ralph disentangled himself cautiously and stole away through the branches. In a few seconds the fat boy's grunts were behind him and he was hurrying toward the screen that still lay between him and the lagoon. He climbed over a broken trunk and was out of the jungle.
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 ground beneath them was a bank covered with coarse grass, torn everywhere by the upheavals of fallen trees, scattered with decaying coconuts and palm saplings. Behind this was the darkness of the forest proper and the open space of the scar. Ralph stood, one hand against a grey trunk, and screwed up his eyes against the shimmering water. Out there, perhaps a mile away, the white surf flinked on a coral reef, and beyond that the open sea was dark blue. Within the irregular arc of coral the lagoon was still as a mountain lake—blue of all shades and shadowy green and purple. The beach between the palm terrace and the water was a thin stick, endless apparently, for to Ralph's left the perspectives of palm and beach and water drew to a point at infinity; and always, almost visible, was the heat.
He jumped down from the terrace. The sand was thick over his black shoes and the heat hit him. He became conscious of the weight of clothes, kicked his shoes off fiercely and ripped off each stocking with its elastic garter in a single movement. Then he leapt back on the terrace, pulled off his shirt, and stood there among the skull-like coconuts with green shadows from the palms and the forest sliding over his skin. He undid the snake-clasp of his belt, lugged off his shorts and pants, and stood there naked, looking at the dazzling beach and the water.
He was old enough, twelve years and a few months, to have lost the prominent tummy of childhood and not yet old enough for adolescence to have made him awkward. You could see now that he might make a boxer, as far as width and heaviness of shoulders went, but there was a mildness about his mouth and eyes that proclaimed no devil. He patted the palm trunk softly, and, forced at last to believe in the reality of the island laughed delightedly again and stood on his head. He turned nearly on to his feet, jumped down to the beach, knelt and swept a double armful of sand into a pile against his chest. Then he sat back and looked at the water with bright, excited eyes.
The fat boy lowered himself over the terrace and sat down carefully, using the edge as a seat.
"I'm sorry I been such a time. Them fruit—"
He wiped his glasses and adjusted them on his button nose. The frame had made a deep, pink "V" on the bridge. He looked critically at Ralph's golden body and then down at his own clothes. He laid a hand on the end of a zipper that extended down his chest.
Then he opened the zipper with decision and pulled the whole wind-breaker over his head.
Ralph looked at him sidelong and said nothing.
"I expect we'll want to know all their names," said the fat boy, "and make a list. We ought to have a meeting."
Ralph did not take the hint so the fat boy was forced to continue.
"I don't care what they call me," he said confidentially, "so long as they don't call me what they used to call me at school."
Ralph was faintly interested.
"What was that?"
The fat boy glanced over his shoulder, then leaned toward Ralph.
"They used to call me 'Piggy.'"
Ralph shrieked with laughter. He jumped up.
Piggy clasped his hands in apprehension.
"I said I didn't want—"
Ralph danced out into the hot air of the beach and then returned as a fighter-plane, with wings swept back, and machine-gunned Piggy.
He dived in the sand at Piggy's feet and lay there laughing.
Piggy grinned reluctantly, pleased despite himself at even this much recognition.
"So long as you don't tell the others—"
Ralph giggled into the sand. The expression of pain and concentration returned to Piggy's face.
"Half a sec'."
He hastened back into the forest. Ralph stood up and trotted along to the right.
Here the beach was interrupted abruptly by the square motif of the landscape; a great platform of pink granite thrust up uncompromisingly through forest and terrace and sand and lagoon to make a raised jetty four feet high. The top of this was covered with a thin layer of soil and coarse grass and shaded with young palm trees. There was not enough soil for them to grow to any height and when they reached perhaps twenty feet they fell and dried, forming a criss-cross pattern of trunks, very convenient to sit on. The palms that still stood made a green roof, covered on the underside with a quivering tangle of reflections from the lagoon. Ralph hauled himself onto this platform, noted the coolness and shade, shut one eye, and decided that the shadows on his body were really green. He picked his way to the seaward edge of the platform and stood looking down into the water. It was clear to the bottom and bright with the efflorescence of tropical weed and coral. A school of tiny, glittering fish flicked hither and thither. Ralph spoke to himself, sounding the bass strings of delight.
Beyond the platform there was more enchantment. Some act of God—a typhoon perhaps, or the storm that had accompanied his own arrival—had banked sand inside the lagoon so that there was a long, deep pool in the beach with a high ledge of pink granite at the further end. Ralph had been deceived before now by the specious appearance of depth in a beach pool and he approached this one preparing to be disappointed. But the island ran true to form and the incredible pool, which clearly was only invaded by the sea at high tide, was so deep at one end as to be dark green. Ralph inspected the whole thirty yards carefully and then plunged in. The water was warmer than his blood and he might have been swimming in a huge bath.
Piggy appeared again, sat on the rocky ledge, and watched Ralph's green and white body enviously.
"You can't half swim."
Piggy took off his shoes and socks, ranged them carefully on the ledge, and tested the water with one toe.
"What did you expect?"
"I didn't expect nothing. My auntie—"
"Sucks to your auntie!"
Ralph did a surface dive and swam under water with his eyes open; the sandy edge of the pool loomed up like a hillside. He turned over, holding his nose, and a golden light danced and shattered just over his face. Piggy was looking determined and began to take off his shorts. Presently he was palely and fatly naked. He tiptoed down the sandy side of the pool, and sat there up to his neck in water smiling proudly at Ralph.
"Aren't you going to swim?"
Piggy shook his head.
"I can't swim. I wasn't allowed. My asthma—"
"Sucks to your ass-mar!"
Piggy bore this with a sort of humble patience.
"You can't half swim well."
Ralph paddled backwards down the slope, immersed his mouth and blew a jet of water into the air. Then he lifted his chin and spoke.
"I could swim when I was five. Daddy taught me. He's a commander in the Navy. When he gets leave he'll come and rescue us. What's your father?"
Piggy flushed suddenly.
"My dad's dead," he said quickly, "and my mum—"
He took off his glasses and looked vainly for something with which to clean them.
"I used to live with my auntie. She kept a candy store. I used to get ever so many candies. As many as I liked. When'll your dad rescue us?"
"Soon as he can."
Piggy rose dripping from the water and stood naked, cleaning his glasses with a sock. The only sound that reached them now through the heat of the morning was the long, grinding roar of the breakers on the reef.
"How does he know we're here?"
Ralph lolled in the water. Sleep enveloped him like the swathing mirages that were wrestling with the brilliance of the lagoon.
"How does he know we're here?"
Because, thought Ralph, because, because. The roar from the reef became very distant.
"They'd tell him at the airport."
Piggy shook his head, put on his flashing glasses and looked down at Ralph.
"Not them. Didn't you hear what the pilot said? About the atom bomb? They're all dead."
Ralph pulled himself out of the water, stood facing Piggy, and considered this unusual problem.
"This an island, isn't it?"
"I climbed a rock," said Ralph slowly, "and I think this is an island."
"They're all dead," said Piggy, "an' this is an island. Nobody don't know we're here. Your dad don't know, nobody don't know—"
His lips quivered and the spectacles were dimmed with mist.
"We may stay here till we die."
With that word the heat seemed to increase till it became a threatening weight and the lagoon attacked them with a blinding effulgence.
"Get my clothes," muttered Ralph. "Along there."
He trotted through the sand, enduring the sun's enmity, crossed the platform and found his scattered clothes. To put on a grey shirt once more was strangely pleasing. Then he climbed the edge of the platform and sat in the green shade on a convenient trunk. Piggy hauled himself up, carrying most of his clothes under his arms. Then he sat carefully on a fallen trunk near the little cliff that fronted the lagoon; and the tangled reflections quivered over him.
Presently he spoke.
"We got to find the others. We got to do something."
Ralph said nothing. Here was a coral island. Protected from the sun, ignoring Piggy's ill-omened talk, he dreamed pleasantly.
"How many of us are there?"
Ralph came forward and stood by Piggy.
"I don't know."
Here and there, little breezes crept over the polished waters beneath the haze of heat. When these breezes reached the platform the palm fronds would whisper, so that spots of blurred sunlight slid over their bodies or moved like bright, winged things in the shade.
Piggy looked up at Ralph. All the shadows on Ralph's face were reversed; green above, bright below from the lagoon. A blur of sunlight was crawling across his hair.
"We got to do something."
Ralph looked through him. Here at last was the imagined but never fully realized place leaping into real life. Ralph's lips parted in a delighted smile and Piggy, taking this smile to himself as a mark of recognition, laughed with pleasure.
"If it really is an island—"
Ralph had stopped smiling and was pointing into the lagoon. Something creamy lay among the ferny weeds.
"No. A shell."
Suddenly Piggy was a-bubble with decorous excitement.
"S'right. It's a shell! I seen one like that before. On someone's back wall. A conch he called it. He used to blow it and then his mum would come. It's ever so valuable—"
Near to Ralph's elbow a palm sapling leaned out over the lagoon. Indeed, the weight was already pulling a lump from the poor soil and soon it would fall. He tore out the stem and began to poke about in the water, while the brilliant fish flicked away on this side and that. Piggy leaned dangerously.
"Careful! You'll break it—"
Ralph spoke absently. The shell was interesting and pretty and a worthy plaything; but the vivid phantoms of his day-dream still interposed between him and Piggy, who in this context was an irrelevance. The palm sapling, bending, pushed the shell across the weeds. Ralph used one hand as a fulcrum and pressed down with the other till the shell rose, dripping, and Piggy could make a grab.
Now the shell was no longer a thing seen but not to be touched, Ralph too became excited. Piggy babbled:
"—a conch; ever so expensive. I bet if you wanted to buy one, you'd have to pay pounds and pounds and pounds—he had it on his garden wall, and my auntie—"
Ralph took the shell from Piggy and a little water ran down his arm. In color the shell was deep cream, touched here and there with fading pink. Between the point, worn away into a little hole, and the pink lips of the mouth, lay eighteen inches of shell with a slight spiral twist and covered with a delicate, embossed pattern. Ralph shook sand out of the deep tube.
"—mooed like a cow," he said. "He had some white stones too, an' a bird cage with a green parrot. He didn't blow the white stones, of course, an' he said—"
Piggy paused for breath and stroked the glistening thing that lay in Ralph's hands.
Ralph looked up.
"We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They'll come when they hear us—"
He beamed at Ralph.
"That was what you meant, didn't you? That's why you got the conch out of the water?"
Ralph pushed back his fair hair.
"How did your friend blow the conch?"
"He kind of spat," said Piggy. "My auntie wouldn't let me blow on account of my asthma. He said you blew from down here." Piggy laid a hand on his jutting abdomen. "You try, Ralph. You'll call the others."
Doubtfully, Ralph laid the small end of the shell against his mouth and blew. There came a rushing sound from its mouth but nothing more. Ralph wiped the salt water off his lips and tried again, but the shell remained silent.
"He kind of spat."
Ralph pursed his lips and squirted air into the shell, which emitted a low, farting noise. This amused both boys so much that Ralph went on squirting for some minutes, between bouts of laughter.
"He blew from down here."
Ralph grasped the idea and hit the shell with air from his diaphragm. Immediately the thing sounded. A deep, harsh note boomed under the palms, Spread through the intricacies of the forest and echoed back from the pink granite of the mountain. Clouds of birds rose from the treetops, and something squealed and ran in the undergrowth.
Ralph took the shell away from his lips.
His ordinary voice sounded like a whisper after the harsh note of the conch. He laid the conch against his lips, took a deep breath and blew once more. The note boomed again: and then at his firmer pressure, the note, fluking up an octave, became a strident blare more penetrating than before. Piggy was shouting something, his face pleased, his glasses flashing. The birds cried, small animals scuttered. Ralph's breath failed; the note dropped the octave, became a low wubber, was a rush of air.
The conch was silent, a gleaming tusk; Ralph's face was dark with breathlessness and the air over the island was full of bird-clamor and echoes ringing.
"I bet you can hear that for miles."
Ralph found his breath and blew a series of short blasts.
Piggy exclaimed: "There's one!"
A child had appeared among the palms, about a hundred yards along the beach. He was a boy of perhaps six years, sturdy and fair, his clothes torn, his face covered with a sticky mess of fruit. His trousers had been lowered for an obvious purpose and had only been pulled back half-way. He jumped off the palm terrace into the sand and his trousers fell about his ankles; he stepped out of them and trotted to the platform. Piggy helped him up. Meanwhile Ralph continued to blow till voices shouted in the forest. The small boy squatted in front of Ralph, looking up brightly and vertically. As he received the reassurance of something purposeful being done he began to look satisfied, and his only clean digit, a pink thumb, slid into his mouth.
Piggy leaned down to him.
"What's yer name?"
Piggy muttered the name to himself and then shouted it to Ralph, who was not interested because he was still blowing. His face was dark with the violent pleasure of making this stupendous noise, and his heart was making the stretched shirt shake. The shouting in the forest was nearer.
Signs of life were visible now on the beach. The sand, trembling beneath the heat haze, concealed many figures in its miles of length; boys were making their way toward the platform through the hot, dumb sand. Three small children, no older than Johnny, appeared from startlingly close at hand, where they had been gorging fruit in the forest. A dark little boy, not much younger than Piggy, parted a tangle of undergrowth, walked on to the platform, and smiled cheerfully at everybody. More and more of them came. Taking their cue from the innocent Johnny, they sat down on the fallen palm trunks and waited. Ralph continued to blow short, penetrating blasts. Piggy moved among the crowd, asking names and frowning to remember them. The children gave him the same simple obedience that they had given to the men with megaphones. Some were naked and carrying their clothes; others half-naked, or more or less dressed, in school uniforms, grey, blue, fawn, jacketed, or jerseyed. There were badges, mottoes even, stripes of color in stockings and pullovers. Their heads clustered above the trunks in the green shade; heads brown, fair, black, chestnut, sandy, mouse-colored; heads muttering, whispering, heads full of eyes that watched Ralph and speculated. Something was being done.
The children who came along the beach, singly or in twos, leapt into visibility when they crossed the line from heat haze to nearer sand. Here, the eye was first attracted to a black, bat-like creature that danced on the sand, and only later perceived the body above it. The bat was the child's shadow, shrunk by the vertical sun to a patch between the hurrying feet. Even while he blew, Ralph noticed the last pair of bodies that reached the platform above a fluttering patch of black. The two boys, bullet-headed and with hair like tow, flung themselves down and lay grinning and panting at Ralph like dogs. They were twins, and the eye was shocked and incredulous at such cheery duplication. They breathed together, they grinned together, they were chunky and vital. They raised wet lips at Ralph, for they seemed provided with not quite enough skin, so that their profiles were blurred and their mouths pulled open. Piggy bent his flashing glasses to them and could be heard between the blasts, repeating their names.
"Sam, Eric, Sam, Eric."
Then he got muddled; the twins shook their heads and pointed at each other and the crowd laughed.
At last Ralph ceased to blow and sat there, the conch trailing from one hand, his head bowed on his knees. As the echoes died away so did the laughter, and there was silence.
Within the diamond haze of the beach something dark was fumbling along. Ralph saw it first, and watched till the intentness of his gaze drew all eyes that way. Then the creature stepped from mirage on to clear sand, and they saw that the darkness was not all shadow but mostly clothing. The creature was a party of boys, marching approximately in step in two parallel lines and dressed in strangely eccentric clothing. Shorts, shirts, and different garments they carried in their hands; but each boy wore a square black cap with a silver badge on it. Their bodies, from throat to ankle, were hidden by black cloaks which bore a long silver cross on the left breast and each neck was finished off with a hambone frill. The heat of the tropics, the descent, the search for food, and now this sweaty march along the blazing beach had given them the complexions of newly washed plums. The boy who controlled them was dressed in the same way though his cap badge was golden. When his party was about ten yards from the platform he shouted an order and they halted, gasping, sweating, swaying in the fierce light. The boy himself came forward, vaulted on to the platform with his cloak flying, and peered into what to him was almost complete darkness.
"Where's the man with the trumpet?"
Ralph, sensing his sun-blindness, answered him.
"There's no man with a trumpet. Only me."
The boy came close and peered down at Ralph, screwing up his face as he did so. What he saw of the fair-haired boy with the creamy shell on his knees did not seem to satisfy him. He turned quickly, his black cloak circling.
"Isn't there a ship, then?"
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.
"Isn't there a man here?"
Ralph spoke to his back.
"No. We're having a meeting. Come and join in."
The group of cloaked boys began to scatter from close line. The tall boy shouted at them.
"Choir! Stand still!"
Wearily obedient, the choir huddled into line and stood there swaying in the sun. None the less, some began to protest faintly.
"But, Merridew. Please, Merridew ... can't we?"
Then one of the boys flopped on his face in the sand and the line broke up. They heaved the fallen boy to the platform and let him lie. Merridew, his eyes staring, made the best of a bad job.
"All right then. Sit down. Let him alone."
"He's always throwing a faint," said Merridew. "He did in Gib.; and Addis; and at matins over the precentor."
This last piece of shop brought sniggers from the choir, who perched like black birds on the criss-cross trunks and examined Ralph with interest. Piggy asked no names. He was intimidated by this uniformed superiority and the offhand authority in Merridew's voice. He shrank to the other side of Ralph and busied himself with his glasses.
Merridew turned to Ralph.
"Aren't there any grownups?"
Merridew sat down on a trunk and looked round the circle.
"Then we'll have to look after ourselves."
Secure on the other side of Ralph, Piggy spoke timidly.
"That's why Ralph made a meeting. So as we can decide what to do. We've heard names. That's Johnny. Those two—they're twins, Sam 'n Eric. Which is Eric—? You? No—you're Sam—"
"'n I'm Eric."
"We'd better all have names," said Ralph, "so I'm Ralph."
"We got most names," said Piggy. "Got 'em just now."
"Kids' names," said Merridew. "Why should I be Jack? I'm Merridew."
Ralph turned to him quickly. This was the voice of one who knew his own mind.
"Then," went on Piggy, "that boy—I forget—"
"You're talking too much," said Jack Merridew. "Shut up, Fatty."
"He's not Fatty," cried Ralph, "his real name's Piggy!"
A storm of laughter arose and even the tiniest child joined in. For the moment the boys were a closed circuit of sympathy with Piggy outside: he went very pink, bowed his head and cleaned his glasses again.
Finally the laughter died away and the naming continued. There was Maurice, next in size among the choir boys to Jack, but broad and grinning all the time. There was a slight, furtive boy whom no one knew, who kept to himself with an inner intensity of avoidance and secrecy. He muttered that his name was Roger and was silent again. Bill, Robert, Harold, Henry; the choir boy who had fainted sat up against a palm trunk, smiled pallidly at Ralph and said that his name was Simon.
"We've got to decide about being rescued."
There was a buzz. One of the small boys, Henry, said that he wanted to go home.
"Shut up," said Ralph absently. He lifted the conch. "Seems to me we ought to have a chief to decide things."
"A chief! A chief!"
"I ought to be chief," said Jack with simple arrogance, "because I'm chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp."
"Well then," said Jack, "I—"
He hesitated. The dark boy, Roger, stirred at last and spoke up.
"Let's have a vote."
"Vote for chief!"
This toy of voting was almost as pleasing as the conch. Jack started to protest but the clamor changed from the general wish for a chief to an election by acclaim of Ralph himself. None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on his knees, was set apart.
"Him with the shell."
"Let him be chief with the trumpet-thing."
Ralph raised a hand for silence.
"All right. Who wants Jack for chief?"
With dreary obedience the choir raised their hands.
"Who wants me?"
Every hand outside the choir except Piggy's was raised immediately. Then Piggy, too, raised his hand grudgingly into the air.
"I'm chief then."
The circle of boys broke into applause. Even the choir applauded; and the freckles on Jack's face disappeared under a blush of mortification. He started up, then changed his mind and sat down again while the air rang. Ralph looked at him, eager to offer something.
"The choir belongs to you, of course."
"They could be the army—"
"They could be—"
The suffusion drained away from Jack's face. Ralph waved again for silence.
"Jack's in charge of the choir. They can be—what do you want them to be?"
Jack and Ralph smiled at each other with shy liking. The rest began to talk eagerly.
Jack stood up.
"All right, choir. Take off your togs."
As if released from class, the choir boys stood up, chattered, piled their black cloaks on the grass. Jack laid his on the trunk by Ralph. His grey shorts were sticking to him with sweat. Ralph glanced at them admiringly, and when Jack saw his glance he explained.
"I tried to get over that hill to see if there was water all round. But your shell called us."
Ralph smiled and held up the conch for silence.
"Listen, everybody. I've got to have time to think things out. I can't decide what to do straight off. If this isn't an island we might be rescued straight away. So we've got to decide if this is an island. Everybody must stay round here and wait and not go away. Three of us—if we take more we'd get all mixed, and lose each other—three of us will go on an expedition and find out. I'll go, and Jack, and, and...."
He looked round the circle of eager faces. There was no lack of boys to choose from.
I was assigned to read this book for school and I read the entire thing cover to cover in a few hours. It's an amazing and consuming story that shows how people can be innately good or evil.It dives into the human psyche and unrivels the tangled knot that is the mind. It also envolpes the religous scope of man, Simon as a Christ character and the pigs head as Beelzebub,great. I do admit dialogue is hard to follow but if you take the time to look past that it's amazing! One of the best books I have ever read!!
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Posted April 19, 2010
Lord of the Flies is a novel filled with symbolism. The novel takes place on an island were young boys are plane wrecked and have to figure out how to survive with no parents. Starting out civilized, they quickly progress into savagery. While everything is falling apart Golding uses characters and items found on the island to represent symbols all throughout the book. I recommend reading lord of the flies, it is a great novel full of symbolism and it gives you a different view of how life could be with no rules.
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I was lonely one Saturday afternoon and after pondering my bookshelf, I decided to pick up my copy of Lord of the Flies; it was a great way to spend the next six hours. This tale was so engrossing that I finished it that same Saturday.<BR/>The reason this book was so captivating was Golding's carefully woven tale of wonder and brutality. Not only is Lord of the Flies an allegory, but it is also a tale where we are forced to confront the utterly shocking extremes of human nature.<BR/>I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a challenging and frightening, yet extremely enjoyable read. Here's to hoping that I never get stranded on an island with adolescent British boys!
23 out of 28 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 19, 2010
Lord of the flies captivates ones imagination with its extreme details. The reader feels as if their there with the group of boys, with how extensive Golding's descriptions are. This book shows how quickly civilizations can crumble, and how horrible its outcome can be. I recommend this book to any readers who are adventurous. Lord of the flies is a very interesting novel.
13 out of 17 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 23, 2012
Seems to me that there are a lot of reviewers (mostly teens it seems) that don't care for this book. It's like some retarded kid wrote a review about the book and then had 30 clones decided to follow suit. I, for one, read this book back in high school and loved every minute of it!If you're looking for a dark book about human nature, here's one for ya. It might not be "action packed" but it makes up for it in reason. And to the kid that said books need to have lots of action to be respected, take a look back at every classic book out there and tell me you feel the same way. By the way, Twilight is not a classic, sir.
12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 8, 2012
From a long list of books to choose from for a school project, Lord of the flies stood out as one of the few books I hadn't read, but I heard was amazing. Within a day, I read the whole book, and I have to agree, it's a work of art. This book shows just how savage we really are, and how civilization keeps us in place everyday. When you trace mankind to their roots, you realize how our basic instincts are to be savage killers. And when taken away from civilization and society, we have nothing but our own instincts on how to act. I thought if it can happen among children, it can definitely happen between grown men; Maybe to an even great extent. This book made me think thoroughly on the subject; comparing it to today's society. After you read this book, I'm sure you too will be left in thought and wonder.
10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 25, 2011
i had to read this book for my ninth grade honors lit class. all of my classmates and i hated it. we couldnt bring ourselves to read it any longer. i would never recommend this book to anyone.
10 out of 63 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 27, 2009
Lord of the Flies (LOF) why is that english teachers think that this a coming of age novel? LOF is no doubt an intresting and intruing story and maybe and eye to the more raw side of humanity. When you strip away the rules and the adults if you turn off the lights are we no longer humans do we become no more than animals? That is the question LOF brings up and, Golding has a black view of human nature in genral. When young "civilized" english boys come to an island where there are no grown ups and no rules they become uncivlized and start to kill each other.
This book is challenging and best read with spark notes or in class when there is a lot of dissucsion because it is easy to get lost with this book
9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 25, 2012
Posted October 3, 2008
This book was great. Lots of really good symbols for things in real life. While the message is pessimistic about human nature i think it is honest. Not all people are good. In fact, many people are bad and do bad things. I appreciate the honesty of this book. While it is fiction i like that it was not your typical happy predictable story.
7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 19, 2010
Lord of the Flies is a great book and displays symbolism throughout the whole book. On of the most thought-provoking symbols is "the beast", it reoresents the evil within everyone. In the beginning, the boys are afraid of it. Gradually, they forget about it. When they forget about the beast completely, it shows that they have become savages. I recommend this book to any reader that likes to think a lot about what they are reading.
6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 27, 2013
Jack, Ralph, and Piggy all represent something. Jack represents dictatorship. He has a violent personality and sees hunting as a must. Piggy represents intelligence and the public. He’s a chubby boy who wants rule and order in the island. Ralph represents democracy and common sense. He is the strong one and the leader. Without him or Piggy, there would only be violence which is Jack. The island sets up 2 main conflicts. On an external side, the conflict goes between Jack and Ralph. Hunting or Rescue. Dictatorship or Democracy. As you can see in the book, most of the boy’s side up with Jack’s way and few joined up with Ralph. But if you go in deeper you can see the internal side. Fear of the beast. Fear of the darkness in man’s heart. In the book, Simon tried explaining about how maybe the beast was within them and not physically but mentally.
The book was good in keeping in suspense and was very interesting such as when Simon began talking to the Lord of the Flies which was a dead pig head. Another good point was the amount of symbolization in the book. The conch represented democracy and the will to speak. Every character represented something and the details in the story also. The best part of the story though was the way Golding described his characters. It was very fluid and keeps you entranced in the story. The way he described Ralph in the beginning was eye-catching. In either ways, this book was a very interesting read to a very good way to spend time.
5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 10, 2012
This was one of the few books that I thoroughly enjoyed. The author does a very good job in examining human nature and expressing his opinion in the book. The book shows that when put into a very serious situation our true selves come out and we may lose who we are. The style of writing that the author uses keeps me turning the pages. The way it was written kept you reading to see what would happen next. The only thing was that it takes some getting used to. The author did a very good job in creating the characters. Each one represented different kinds of people and their aspects. The real brutality of jack only came out when he felt threatened like a cat backed into a corner. Portraying real aspects of people in writing is hard but Golding pulled it off very well. This book was a fun read and I recommend it to everyone.
5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 19, 2010
The book, "Lord of the Flies" has many aspects that make a great book, one aspect is symbolism. Piggy's glasses, the conch, the Beast, and the Lord of the Flies all symbolize different aspects of civilization, order, and chaos. I would recommend this novel to someone that enjoys a story of survival on an island and the decline of civilization and the rise of savagery but wants deeper symbolism in a book about the decline of civilization and the rise of savagery.
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 26, 2012
This book starts off slow, and i was anything but enchanted by it, but it turned out to be one of the best books that i have read. At first, i thoght all of the descriptions were not needed to progress the plot, but the last section of the book changed my mind entirely. This is a must read.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 9, 2011
John Aiello 3.11 Lord of the Flies is a timeless novel. At first, I thought it was going to be an adventure novel. However, I realize quickly that this was not an adventure. William Golding wrote the Lord of the Flies with the intent to show how human nature, when left unchecked and without rules, turns on itself. The story takes place during war time in England. A plane carrying boys from a boarding school was shot down during the evacuation. The pilot parachutes away and they are marooned on a tropical island. The island is very isolated with no contact with the outside world. The jungle provided food, water and shelter material. It was not their surroundings but what was within themselves that lead to their downfall. The Ralph character emerges as the group's initial leader. He recognizes the need for order and his main goal is to be rescued. He starts a fire on the mountain in an attempt to attract the attention of passing ships and/or planes. He is the voice of reason. He encourages the boys to build huts for shelter. His leadership roll is quickly undermined by Jack. Jack originally wanted to be the leader and is quite upset that he was not elected. He deems himself the leader of the "hunters" and does not really want to be rescued. He lets the fire die out therefore thwarting Ralph's attempt at rescue. The boys become divided in there allegiance some following Jack and some following Ralph. While Ralph has good intentions and is focused on getting rescued, conversely, Jack is malicious and animalistic. He leads the boys from civilized young men into savages through out the novel. He constantly attempts to weaken others. Jack takes his followers, separating from Ralph and the rest of the group. Senseless acts of violence occur and the boys turn on each other. They find the week ones and eliminate them. The reader will be surprised at how quickly the boys succumb to this barbaric behavior. William Golding writes with a beautifully descriptive hand. The scenery descriptions are vivid and captivating. You feel like you are on the island with the boys. His narrative paints a brutal portrait of human nature. He clearly portrays the moral layers of the story. This novel is as relevant now as it was when it was written in 1954. I believe the author was successful in depicting how without order and structure, unimaginable behavior results.
4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 19, 2010
"Lord of the Flies" was an excellent book. It has many different aspects,my favorite being symbolism. There are many examples of symbolism in this book, that promotes irony. I recommend this book for any reader that has imagination and would love to read about an adventure.
4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 22, 2012
This book is really great. You should read this book or otherwise you dont know what's this book about and u will never know no how to survive on island without someone!
3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 4, 2013
Posted July 27, 2012
Plain in simple, this book was a great read. Trying to understand all the symbolism in it kept me very entertained. I found myself re reading chapters to understand. Such a great book that truly defines the flaws in society. I would recommend this book to anyone.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.