We start with Ralph meeting Piggy who provides us with a background to their
current position. They are part of a party of boys being evacuated during a Nuclear War to an un-named destination.
Their transport plane crashes in thick jungle on a deserted island ending up on the beach to be later dragged out to sea. The boys are marooned and scattered in the thick jungle. Ralph and Piggy are on the beach and Ralph takes the opportunity to play around showing off his prowess at swimming and acrobatics. Piggy finds a conch shell and suggests to Ralph that he could use it like a trumpet to assemble all those lost in the jungle. Ralph positions himself on a platform of pink granite and blows the conch. Piggy would have done this, but was unable due to his asthma.
Ralph is excited at the prospect of being stranded on this island without
any adults while Piggy has misgivings about the whole situation.
Soon boys aged around 6, ‘littluns’ and boys aged 10 – 12 ‘biguns’ stream
out of the jungle onto the beach assembling at a platform near Ralph.
Last to arrive are the troop of choirboys still dressed in their uniforms of
black caps and long black cloaks led by Jack.
The boys discuss their situation and decide to choose Ralph over Jack as
their leader and Ralph suggests that Jack should be in charge of hunting, using the choirboys as a hunting party. He asks Piggy to make a list of all the boys.
Ralph forms a search party with Jack and Simon to make a reconnaissance of
We learn about some of the main characters from this first chapter.
Ralph represents civilization and organization, and is made leader mainly because of the use of the conch to summon all the boys, although it was Piggy’s idea to use the conch indicating that he is the brains of the
Piggy, because of his asthma was unable to blow the conch.
He is also overweight and has poor eyesight making him a vulnerable member of the party, as his intelligence will have little practical value to the group as a whole.
Jack shows that he does wield authority by making the choir march in their
full uniforms and his arrogance clearly puts some of the boys against him, as they vote for a leader and Ralph came out on top. Because Jack possesses a knife he becomes head of the hunting group, which
placates him to some degree. He will come to represent anarchy and savagery as the tale unfolds.
Early on Ralph plays like any other boy of that age, but now that he has
been elected leader he will have little time for such things.
The other main character, Simon, is more complex and will be covered later