William Golding's classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are
plane-wrecked on a deserted island is just as chilling and relevant today
as when it was first published in 1954.
The story begins during the war, as an airplane carrying a group of small
boys crashes into an uninhabited island. The boys are left alone with no adult
presence because the captain and crew are killed. They elect a chief, Ralph,
and begin to survive with the resources they find on the island. Certain boys
are given certain duties and they live as a happy, cooperative society. Piggy,
a heavy set boy becomes Ralph's wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles
come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and
delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim,
play, or hunt the island's wild pig population.
Soon Ralph's rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest
antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to
lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The rumor
that a "beast" is lurking on the island causes the children to have
nightmares and horrible fantasies.
The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall
away. Soon Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have
become the hunted: "He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became
fear; hopeless fear on flying feet." Golding's gripping novel explores
the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing
field of adolescent competition.
The tyrant, Jack, promises to fulfill the children's desires and is elected
the new chief. The once well- organized society is divided into two groups:
those who hunt and become savages, and those who believe in rational living
and being rescued. Ralph gradually becomes an outcast and is hunted by Jack's
army of boys. Just as Ralph is about to be killed by the "savages",
a naval officer arrives on the island to rescue them.