Chapter One - Lord of the Flies summary.

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Chapter One - Lord of the Flies


The novel opens with a twelve-year-old boy, Ralph, picking his way through an area of devastated jungle. Presently he hears a voice calling to him and another boy scrambles out of the undergrowth to join him. This boy is similar in age to Ralph, however the similarities end there. Ralph is fair and attractive, with a boxer’s physique, in sharp contrast to his new companion, who is stumpy, bespectacled, very fat, and asthmatic. From their talk we learn that they are evacuees from an atomic war, and have escaped from the passenger tube dropped onto the jungle by an aircraft which was under attack and fire. Ralph naïvely supposes the pilot will return, but the fat boy knows better, and is alarmed by the realisation that no adults have survived. The same realisation excites Ralph in contrast.

We learn that Ralph is middle-class in speech, background and manner. He is distantly reserved towards the fat boy, whose speech is ungrammatical and whose background is much inferior to his own. The fat boy delays to eat fruit, while Ralph pulls off his uniform, but follows Ralph and confidentially reveals the secret that his hated nickname was Piggy. This strikes Ralph as hilarious, and continually rejects Piggy’s efforts to make friends, by taunting him with his nickname. Piggy cannot swim, but sits up to his neck in the water, trying to be companionable.

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They climb out of the lagoon, when Piggy thoughtfully points out that they may never be rescued, not even by Ralph’s father who is a naval commander. He urges action: “We got to find the others. We got to do something”. Ralph remains dreary and indifferent, but notices an object lying in the lagoon, and Piggy identifies it as a conch shell. Piggy babbles on about its use, while Ralph blows several blasts. A straggle of boys emerge from the surrounding forest. Their leader is called Jack Merridew. He is indifferent to one of his choristers, Simon, who faints, and ...

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