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A plane, evacuating British children, crash lands on a deserted island after being shot by enemy aircraft. The boys establish a government, rules, and a plan. It doesn't take long, however, for the island to fall in disarray. A rivalry develops between Ralph, the elected chief who focuses on maintaining a rescue fire and establishing civilization, and Jack, a militant choir leader, who's in charge of hunting. As Ralph builds huts and maintains order, Jack hunts and his choir engages in tom-foolery.
An imaginary beast haunts the island and the boys. Jack claims his hunters will protect the beast. Simon says there is no beast. Ralph and Piggy just want to be rescued from the beast.
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A closer analysis shows the novel is much more than an adventure story. It's a treatise on human savagery and the thin line between civilization and chaos. It also examines the damaging effects of fear and the inherent presence of evil in all humans. The following literary elements are present:
- Symbolism: The conch, Piggy's glasses, the island itself, each character, the scar, the dead parachutist, the beast, and the Lord of the Flies all stand for something.
- Biblical Allusions: The beast is an allusion to Revelations 13. The Lord of the Flies literally means Beelzebub. Simon is an allusion to Simon Peter.
- Irony: The boys seek guidance from the adult world. The adult world, however, is just as messed up as theirs. Simon knows the truth and they kill him.
- Theme: Golding examines the nature of evil as the boys' primal instincts take control.
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It doesn't matter how good the book is if you can't teach it. Here are some suggestions.
- Read the book out loud or listen to the cd.
- Use the Internet. There are several online activities for Lord of the Flies. Nobelprize.org has a great one.
- Discuss the novel as an allegory. The following meanings add insight to the characters:
- Roger is Germanic for "spear," something he sharpens at both ends for the pig's head and for Ralph's head.
- Jack is Hebrew for "one who supplants," something Jack does to Ralph.
- Ralph is an Anglo-Saxon derivative of "counsel," something which he does in an attempt to restore order.
- Simon means "listener" in Hebrew.
- Piggy means "fatso" and is the animal Jack and the choir hunt on the island.
- Check out this Lord of the Flies study guide.
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Book Review Ideas
Have your students complete a book review after reading the book. Here is a sample assignment:
- Write a brief summary of the novel, 100-200 words.
- Write a brief Lord of the Flies analysis, extolling its literary merit, 150-200 words.
- List teaching ideas for the novel, 3-4 ideas in a bulleted list.
- Give each section a rating of 1-5 stars.
Lord of the Flies: Teacher Book Review & Ideas
Teaching Lord of the Flies is a lot better than having your head chopped off, hoisted on a stick, and sacrificed to a dead parachutist.