Before we do anything else, I have a confession: I’m an English major who has never read Lord of the Flies. This is my shame. What I know about this book is that it involves a bunch of kids on an island and the collapse of society. So basically, it’s a light-hearted romp, yes? Let’s find out together!
In chapter 1, we learn that a plane transporting a group of children during a wartime evacuation has been shot down over a deserted island. The children are the only survivors. This is like a child apocalypse, and almost certainly a recipe for disaster. Case in point: our protagonist, 12-year-old Ralph, meets up with another boy, Piggy. They discover a valuable conch shell and immediately begin using it to make fart sounds, and I’m completely serious about that. This is a very serious book.
Eventually Ralph uses the conch as a makeshift horn, and the other survivors are drawn to their location by the noise. Hilariously, the children are described as trudging through the “hot, dumb sand” to reach Ralph, which is an actual quote from the book even though it reads exactly like the kind of idiotic remark I would make in a life-threatening desert island scenario.
Less hilariously, what initially appears to be a large sand-creature made out of shadows instead turns out to be just more kids. A boys’ choir, in fact. That’s disappointing. I thought this was going to be a cool monster, like a tropical werewolf. I hate that that the author played me like this. Don’t threaten me with a good time, William Golding. You don’t promise someone a tropical werewolf and then fail to deliver.
The choirboys all seem to know each other already. I bet they all have inside jokes. I bet they’re going to be really annoying about this. The head choirboy introduces himself as Merridew and has the following ridiculous conversation with Ralph:
MERRIDEW: Where’s the man who blew the trumpet? RALPH: There’s no man with a trumpet. There is only me.* MERRIDEW: Isn’t there an adult here? RALPH: No. We’re having a meeting. Come and join us.**
* Actual quote. Kind of implying that he made the noise himself? No conch shell necessary? Like he just expelled that unearthly sound from his diaphragm? Truly he is a powerful and benevolent god.
** Another actual quote. He says this as if he hadn’t been buck naked and rolling around in the sand with Piggy literally ten minutes earlier.
The choirboys join the crowd surrounding Ralph and Piggy. Merridew immediately throws a minor fit over the prospect of being called by his first name, which is Jack, even though nobody even tried to call him that. I’m going to call him Jack now just to spite him. We also meet two twins, Sam and Eric. The other boys also have names, but they probably aren’t important. I’m just going to call the rest of them Harold.
Jack and a few of the Harolds enjoy a joke at Piggy’s expense. In addition to being overweight, Piggy has asthma and glasses. I guess this makes him an outsider. I, too, have asthma and glasses. I also sweat a lot, chew loudly, and have a terrible personality, so I can’t even tell you how fast these kids would turn on me.
Jack thinks he should be their leader because he can sing C sharp, but Ralph can make conch noises with his mouth, so naturally everyone votes for him. Ralph placates Jack’s fragile ego by telling him he can be in charge of the choir. I think he was already doing that. I’ve really taken a disliking to Jack, to tell you the truth. Possibly this is because he’s a child, and children are not my forte. They always smell like peanut butter and I don’t know why.
Ralph and Jack decide to go scout out the island. Piggy wants to go with them, but they choose to take one of the choirboys, Simon, instead. Simon occasionally has fainting spells. I’m not sure why they bring him along. Seems like a bit of a liability, actually. Anyway, Ralph and Jack bond and become friends; they’re looking forward to ruling over this whole crazy parade together. Once they’re able to confirm that the island really is uninhabited, they head back to the lagoon to tell the other boys. On their way, they come across a wild pig. Jack has a knife, and he moves in, presumably to wrestle the beast into submission before murdering it for bacon. He hesitates, however, and lets it go. He promises that next time, he won’t hesitate to kill. I’m sure that’s not important to the story.
And on that ominous note, we’re through with chapter 1. Whew. Lots of names and faces. Let’s do a quick recap of our merry band of adventurers just to make sure we’re all on the same page:
There’s Ralph, who is our fearless leader.
There’s Jack, who is a child devil. I bet he worships chaos and lives off the blood of the innocent.
There’s Piggy, who’s the nerd. I also think he’s the only one who gets that they’re trapped on a deserted island.
There’s Simon, who is certainly a character.
There’s Sam and Eric, or as I’m going to call them, Fred and George. Earn those names, gentlemen.
There are also various Harolds.
Got all that? Good. I have no doubt that they all have very long, fulfilling lives ahead of them. Until next time, Harolds.
Find the next chapter and every installment of Elodie’s Lord of the Flies blog HERE, and our Blogging the Classics index page HERE!