Summary and Analysis
Chapter 1 - The Sound of the Shell
Naturally Jack has a strong and vocal aversion to Piggy, who represents thorough domestication in contrast to the savagery lying just beneath Jack's surface. Piggy is no fan of Jack's, being "intimidated by [Jack's] uniformed superiority and the offhand authority in [his] voice." With his poor eyesight, weight problem, and asthma, Piggy is a boy who could survive only in a civilization that offers the dual protection of medical treatment and cultural affluence — a society wealthy enough to provide food, shelter, and purpose for its physically weaker members. In England, Piggy would be valued ultimately for the contribution of his intelligence, despite his lack of physical ability or social skills. On this uninhabited island, however, Piggy is the most vulnerable of all the boys, despite his greater mental capabilities.
Although Ralph treats Piggy badly because Piggy lacks a spirit of adventure, he understands that Piggy has a realistic grasp of their situation. Piggy points out that the atom bomb killed everyone who might know of the boys' whereabouts. While Ralph still speaks of his father in the present tense, telling Piggy that his father will come rescue them soon, Piggy describes his aunt in the past tense, realizing that she is gone. Her voice lives on in his head, however, as the voice that ordered his world and represents the protected domesticity he needs to survive and thrive.
His frequent invocations of "my auntie says" provide the only female voice in the book, although he never gets to finish the phrase and reveal what his auntie did say. With only Piggy as her ineffectual mouthpiece, from this first chapter, the auntie's perspective is rendered invalid among the primitive conditions of the environment and the savage demagoguery of Jack.
By quoting his aunt, Piggy also establishes himself as a representative of the adult world. The boys have an ambivalent relationship to adults, viewing them sometimes as providers and protectors and sometimes as punishers and limiters. While Ralph is initially delighted at the lack of grownups on the island, he is at the same time relying on his father's naval expertise to facilitate their rescue. As the adult voice, Piggy tries to communicate the reality that his father is probably dead, a concept that twelve-year-old Ralph has difficulty grasping. Events later in the book reveal Piggy as the voice of reason again — his adult logic contrasting with the other boys' childishly emotional responses, such as in Chapter 2, when he scolds them for starting the fire before building shelters. Yet his logic holds no ground when confronted with the emotions running high in this primitive environment.
Jack and Ralph hold another, more fundamental election between themselves in this chapter. While exploring, they encounter a distinct trail in the jungle. In guessing what made the trail, Ralph offers "'Men?' Jack shakes his head. 'Animals.'" Without realizing it, each boy is casting a vote for who and what they will ultimately represent.
creepers any plants whose stems put out tendrils or rootlets by which the plants can creep along a surface as they grow.
Home Counties the counties nearest London.
stockings closefitting coverings, usually knitted, for the feet and, usually, much of the legs.
half here, considerably; very much.
garter an elastic band, or a fastener suspended from a band, girdle, etc., for holding a stocking or sock in position.
sucks to your auntie a British slang expression of derision or contempt; here, "forget your auntie" or "your auntie be damned."
Gib., Addis abbreviations for Gibraltar and Addis Ababa, respectively; refueling stops the evacuation plane made before crashing on the island.
matins orig., the first of the seven canonical hours, recited between midnight and dawn or, often, at daybreak; here, a morning church service at which the choir sang.
precentor a person who directs a church choir or congregation in singing.
shop here, conversation about one's work or business, esp. after hours.
head boy an honorary title given to a student who has made the best all-around contribution to student life and maintains exemplary conduct.
wacco [Brit. Slang] excellent.
wizard [Brit. Informal] excellent.
smashing [Informal] outstandingly good; extraordinary.