Use these Lord of the Flies important quotes from chapter 1 to enhance your understanding of the novel.
Quote: Within the diamond haze of the beach something dark was fumbling along…Then the creature stepped from the mirage on to clear sand, and they saw that the darkness was not all shadow but mostly clothing (19).
Analysis: The arrival of Jack Merridew and his militant choir is described as the arrival of a beast or creature, foreshadowing Jack's transformation from despotic choir leader to pig hunter to murderous dictator later in the novel.
Quote: They knew very well why he hadn't: because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood (31).
Analysis: Jack fears killing the pig in chapter 1, a fear he overcomes as he sheds civilization and adopts the way of the savage.
Chapters 2 and 3
Quote: He says he saw the beastie, the snake thing, and will it come back tonight…he says in the morning it turned them into things like ropes in the trees and hung in the branches (36).
Analysis: There are many references to beasts in the novel. The concept is introduced in chapter 2 by a littlun. No matter how much Ralph attempts to assuage their fears about the Beastie, the group of boys still fear it. Simon discovers later that they are the Beastie.
Quote: Startled, Ralph realized that the boys were falling still and silent, feeling the beginnings of awe at the power set free below them. The knowledge and awe made him savage (44).
Analysis: The fire that breaks loose on the mountain symbolizes the uncontrollable savagery that soon befalls the stranded boys. Just like the savage fire kills the boy with the birthmark, the boys' savagery kills others.
Quote: He tried to convey the compulsion to track down and kill that was swallowing him up (51).
Analysis: Jack's transformation from civilized bully to savage killer has begun. He's obsessed with hunting at the expense of all else, even rescue.
Quote: The mask was a thing of its own, behind which Jack had liberated from shame and self-consciousness (64).
Analysis: What small semblance of civility Jack had has been obliterated by his hunting mask.
Quote: Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in (75).
Analysis: The hunter's rhythmic chant after the pig hunt is creepy and shows just how bad things are getting.
Quote: "What would a beast eat?" / "Pig." / "We eat pig." / "Piggy!" (83).
Analysis: The boys are still fearful of a beastie roaming the island. The fact that the beast eats pig is significant and symbolic. The beast of whom they speak is the boys or the evil within the boys. It is the boys who kill Piggy later in the novel. In other words, the beast does eat pig, metaphorically speaking.
Quote: Jack was the first to make himself heard. He had not got the conch and thus spoke against the rules; but nobody minded.
Analysis: The conch, symbolic of law and order, holds very little importance to the boys. Jack, the usurper of authority, is the obvious choice to break the rules.
Chapters 6 and 7
Quote: But a sign came down from the world of grownups, though at the time there was no child awake to read it. There was a sudden bright explosion and corkscrew trail across the sky; then darkness again and stars (95).
Analysis: This comes immediately after Piggy expresses his hope for a sign from the adult world to straighten things up. This is the sign: a plane is shot down and a parachutist, dead, falls from the sky, is dragged up the mountain, gets stuck in a tree, and becomes the beast. In short, the adults, who are at war, are no less savage than the boys.
Quote: …hair much too long, tangled here and there, knotted round a dead leaf or twig; clothes, worn away, stiff like his own with sweat, put on, not for decorum or comfort but out of custom; the skin of the body scurfy with brine– (110)
Analysis: The boys' appearance has become less and less civilized as the novel progresses. Their outward appearance is a reflection of their inward state.
Quote: The head is for the beast. It's a gift (137).
Analysis: The boys are sacrificing pig heads to a beast. In reality, they are sacrificing pigs to satisfy their own lust for blood.
Quote: The forest near them burst into uproar. Demoniac figures with faces of white and red and green rushed out howling…stark naked save for the paint and a belt was Jack (140).
Analysis: Jack and the hunters have become the embodiment of evil. They attack Ralph and Piggy in an effort to usurp power.
Quote: I'm warning you. I'm going to get angry. D'you see? You're not wanted. Understand? We are going to have fun on this island! So don't try it on, my poor misguided boy, or else– (143)
Analysis: Simon is having a conversation with a pig's head on a stick. The importance of this quote, however, goes beyond that of a boy losing his mind. Simon represents everything that is good. The Lord of the Flies (the pig's head) represents all that is evil. The two cannot coexist.
Quote: “I gave you food,” said Jack, “and my hunters will protect you from the beast. Who will join my tribe?” (150)
Analysis: After a successful hunt Jack finally makes his move to usurp Ralph's leadership. Jack uses the threat of the beast as a means to manipulate others into giving him power. Minutes later a storm comes upon them. Ralph thinks he can wrestle power back from Jack by reminding the hunters that they have no shelter. Jack sways the crowd by having them engage in a tribal dance. Even Ralph and Piggy join in.
Quote: “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” (152)
Analysis: Simon rushes towards the group determined to tell them the beast is nothing but a dead body. However, the boys are incensed with the tribal dance and the thrill of reenacting the hunt and turn on Simon. This repeated chant echoes the chant from chapter four during the pig hunt.
Quote: The beast struggled forward, broke the ring and fell over the steep edge of the rock to the sand by the water. At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws. (153)
Analysis: Simon represents goodness. In this moment, evil has taken over the boys and they eliminate goodness from the island. Simon was the one with the information of where the true evil lay. His message will now never be delivered. This interaction between good and evil is the conclustion to Simon's conversation with the pig head in chapter 8.
Chapter 10: The Shell and the Glasses
Editor's Note: Chapter 10-12 have been added by the editorial team.
Quote: At length Ralph got up and went to the conch. He took the shell caressingly with both hands and knelt, leaning against the trunk. (155)
Analysis: At the opening of the chapter, most of the boys have joined Jack leaving only Ralph and Piggy on the beach with some little'uns, with Sam and Eric gathering wood. The conch was once a symbol of authority and civilization. It has now become meaningless. Ralph clings to it for comfort as he reflects on what has happened to Simon.
Quote: “That was murder.” (156)
Analysis: Piggy tries to rationalize the killing of Simon while Ralph makes the statement that they have committed murder. This judgement seems strangely out of place, however, in a place which has been stripped of laws and a moral code.
Quote: The chief led then, trotting steadily, exulting in his achievement. He was a chief now in truth; and he made stabbing motions with his spear. From his left hand dangled Piggy’s broken glasses. (168)
Analysis: Ralph's camp is attacked at night. After the tussle, they realize Jack had not come for the conch shell, which now is meaningless, but the glasses, which allow the ability to make fire. This last symbol of civilization is now stripped of its original purpose. Jack is now no longer referred to as "Jack", but "the chief".
Quote: “You’re a beast and a swine and a bloody, bloody thief!” (177)
Analysis: As Ralph confronts Jack in a fight for authority, he exclaims that Jack is a beast, confirming what Simon learned earlier, the beast is inside us. He also keeps accusing Jack of theft, although this accusation is meaningless in the absence of civilization.
Quote: By him stood Piggy still holding out the talisman, the fragile, shining beauty of the shell. The storm of sound beat at them, an incantation of hatred. High overhead, Roger, with a sense of delirious abandonment, leaned all his weight on the lever. (180)
Analysis: In this climactic passage, Piggy makes one last attempt to restore order. The conch, once full of power, is now nothing but an object. Roger, the least understanding of civility, prepares to release a large rock upon the enemies of the tribe. Piggy stands directly in the rock's path and is killed.
Quote: “We saw your smoke. What have you been doing? Having a war or something?” (207)
Analysis: In the final chapter, Jack sets the jungle on fire to smoke Ralph out of hiding. Just when Ralph is surrounded by savages on the beach, their hunt is interrupted by the arrival of a naval officer. Ironically, Jack's act of savagery is the cause of their finally being rescued. The naval officer, who is at war himself, thinks that the children are just playing a game, another example of irony.
Quote: …Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy. (209)
Also ironically, although Ralph has been rescued from death by the appearance of the officer, he weeps not for joy, but to mourn what has happened on the island. Even upon escaping the island, the beast will still be a part of them and present even in the "civilized world". His tears cause the other boys to weep as well. Through this experience they have realized their own inner darkness, and life will never be the same again.
This post is part of the series: Lord of the Flies Study Guide
- Important Quotes from Lord of the Flies
- Lord of the Flies Chapter Summaries
- Characters in Lord of the Flies
- Symbolism in Lord of the Flies
- Lord of the Flies Allusions
- Review of Important Themes in Lord of the Flies