first chapter describes a new world, an uninhabited tropical island, which a group of
English boys discover after their plane crashes, killing all the adults on board. The
first two characters described are Ralph, the tall boy with "fair hair," and
Piggy, said by Golding to be a short and "very fat" child. While Ralph seems
perfectly content and almost exited with the prospect of being free of adults and on his
own in this strange island, Piggy, the perpetual voice of the adult world, is terrified by
the idea of having no grown-ups to take charge. Piggy continually makes references to his
"auntie," who has instilled in him the logic and reasoning of adult England.
Right away Piggy
tries to make sense of their chaotic situation, telling Ralph that they need to hold a
meeting and make a list of every boys name. This again underscores Piggys
reliance on law and order to ensure his (and societys as a whole) well-being. Yet
Ralph doesnt go along with Piggy completely; often he rejects Piggys ideas,
saying, "sucks to your auntie!"
Ralph, like Piggy, believes strongly in
the idea that the boys rescue is most important. He even boasts about his dad being
a commander in the Navy. Right now, the whole episode seems like a tale of Swiss Family
Robinson to Ralph; he doesnt recognize the deep consequences which will quickly
ensue. Golding describes Ralphs feelings of independence, narrating, "Here at
last was the imagined but never fully realized place leaping into real life. Ralphs
lips parted in a delighted smile..."
Finally Ralph and Piggy find the conch
shell. After tinkering with the fascinating object for awhile, Ralph eventually finds the
way to call from it by blowing into the shell. Piggy quickly seizes the opportunity,
telling Ralph, "We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. Theyll come
when they hear us."
Soon hosts of boys emerge from the jungle
and along the beach, following the sound of the conch. Most of the boys are similar in
dress except for Jack and his gang of choir members who wear all black. Immediately Jack
turns on Piggy, ridiculing him for his weight and awkwardness. It obvious that these two
wont get along well. Also, its soon apparent that Jack, their leader, is not
willing to submit his authority to Ralph, and a direct confrontation quickly ensues when
Roger calls for a vote for chief. Although all of the choir members vote for Jack in
grudging obedience, Ralph wins the majority of votes mostly because hes the won who
holds the conch.
Eventually Ralph and Jack (who seems to
function as a co-leader of sorts, though not officially) decide to take a tour of the
island in order to determine that it is an island and also to make sure there
isnt anyone else on it. Soon Simon joins them and the trio of exploration is
complete. During the journey, the three experience a peaceful contentment of brotherhood
and common purpose. Golding narrates, "Eyes shining, mouths open, triumphant, they
savored the right of domination. They were lifted up: were friends." Here, the reader
feels a genuine sense of hope that the boys, despite their differences, will ultimately
get along and cooperatively find a mode of rescue.
Golding concludes his first chapter with
an eerie foreshadowing when he details the near killing of a pig which the trio discovers
on the trail. Jack is especially enamored by the pig, feeling a creeping desire to slay it
with his knife. Yet Jacks anarchist, hunting influence hasnt had sufficient
time to conquer the voice of reason articulated by Piggy. All three boys are afraid of
actually taking the life of a living thing. Golding articulates their feelings, saying,
"They knew very well why he hadnt: because of the enormity of the knife
descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood." Soon
Jacks attitude will change when the desire to kill transcends the necessity to obey.