Lord of the Flies By William Golding Summary and Analysis Chapter 1 - The Sound of the Shell

Summary

Lord of the Flies opens with Ralph meeting Piggy. Their conversation provides the background of their situation: In the midst of a nuclear war, a group of boys was being evacuated to an unnamed destination. Their plane crashed and was dragged out to sea, leaving the boys stranded on an unfamiliar island. Because of the atom bomb's devastation, it's likely that no one knows the boys' whereabouts.

Ralph is delighted to be on a pristine tropical island without adults, but Piggy is less pleased. The two boys make their way out of the jungle and onto the beach. Ralph is not much interested in Piggy and does not request an introduction in turn when Piggy asks Ralph's name. Piggy confides his hope that the boys on this island won't call him Piggy as they did back home.

On the beach, Ralph investigates a large platform of pink granite overlooking a long pool that had formed in the beach. After demonstrating his swimming skills, Ralph spies a conch, which Piggy identifies as a valuable shell that can be blown as a trumpet. Piggy urges Ralph to blow into the shell, using it to summon any other survivors to the beach.

Soon boys between ages 6 and 12 come streaming out of the jungle onto the beach, assembling on the platform near Ralph. Last to arrive are Jack and the choirboys. Despite the tropical heat and their own exertions in following the conch blasts, the boys from the choir still wear their black caps and long black cloaks and are clearly overheated when they reach the platform.

The assembled boys discuss their situation and vote on a chief, choosing Ralph over Jack. Ralph suggests that Jack remain in charge of the choirboys, designating them hunters. Jack is mollified by this seemingly small gift of command. As the assembled boys identify themselves, Ralph reveals Piggy's nickname before Piggy can establish his real name.

Ralph forms a search party to establish that they are, in fact, on an island. In agreeing to go along, Jack reveals with a flourish that he owns a large sheathed knife. Piggy is hurt to be excluded from the search party, and Ralph placates him by giving him the job of taking the names of all the boys who remain behind at the platform.

Ralph, Jack, and Simon confirm that the island is uninhabited. They enjoy their jaunt into the wild, experiencing the thrill of adventure and the new friendship forming between them. On their return, they encounter a piglet trapped in jungle vines, testing Jack's hunting skills and nerve. Jack pulls his knife but falters, and the pig gets away; he vows fiercely that next time he will follow through.

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