Important Quotes from Lord of the Flies

Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

This lesson analyzes important quotations in William Golding's ''Lord of the Flies''. When a group of boys find themselves alone on an island, they discover the savagery that lives within the human heart.

Marooned

When a plane is shot down, a group of boys find themselves marooned on an island in William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies. As the boys ponder their situation, they discover something rather unusual. 'Aren't there any grownups at all?' Ralph asks. The boys soon realize that they are on their own.

Let's take a look at some key quotes that show how the decisions the boys make, without any adults to guide them, will reveal their true nature.

The Conch

As they look about their new environment, Ralph spots something in the weeds. 'It's a shell! I seen one like that before. On someone's back wall. A conch he called it. He used to blow it and then his mum would come. It's ever so valuable,' Piggy says.

There is more value in the conch than Piggy imagines when he first finds the shell, for it serves as a symbol of order. Ralph, after his election as Chief, suggests that the castaways use the conch shell to avoid everyone speaking at once.

'I'll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he's speaking,' Ralph says. The boys seem to intuitively realize the need for organizing principles for this new society, and the conch serves to bring some semblance of civilization and civility to the boys.

Later, Piggy is able to articulate the need for order. 'We've got to have rules and obey them,' Piggy says. 'After all, we're not savages. We're English, and the English are best at everything.'

The Beast

When the boys meet to discuss their fears, the discussion turns to the beast that they believe roams the island. Some of the boys believe the beast is a sea creature; others think it is a ghost. Ralph says that everyone has fears and the boys will just have to learn to live with fear.

Simon is reluctant to speak before the group, but he is beginning to realize the true nature of the monster that haunts them. 'Maybe there is a beast,' he says. The boys are shocked at Simon's apparent belief in the beast, but they are even more appalled when he explains, 'What I mean is. . . maybe it's only us.'

The boys cannot or will not understand that the beast is within their own hearts. As the makeshift civilization becomes more and more savage, it becomes clear that Simon's identification of the real threat is correct. The boys will learn soon enough that, as they descend into savagery, 'the world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away.'

Lord of the Flies

After the boys kill a boar, they leave the head on a stake in hopes that an offering will appease the beast. Simon encounters the head, which has flies feasting on the remains. The swarming flies create the appearance of movement about the boar's head. Simon has a vision in which the Lord of the Flies, the head, speaks.

'Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!' said the head. 'You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?' The so-called Lord of the Flies reveals something that Simon already senses: the beast cannot be seen because it exists within the boys themselves.

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