Lord of the Flies by William Golding imagines the consequences of a group of young boys being stranded on a tropical island. It explores issues of power, good versus evil, and the dangers of groupthink.
The book is structured chronologically, beginning in medias res after the boys’ plane has crashed onto the island. There are multiple examples of foreshadowing, hinting at the boys’ descent into savagery and at events like Simon’s death at the hands of his friends.
The main character is Ralph, one of the older boys in the group who takes authority and tries to make a system to help the boys survive and get rescued. The other main characters are Jack (who becomes resentful towards Ralph’s authority), and Piggy (an overweight and intelligent boy who supports Ralph). Important secondary characters include Simon (who represents goodness) and Roger (who is cruel and violent).
The novel’s physical setting is a tropical island with a mountain, beaches, and a jungle. There is a fortress-like rock formation called Castle Rock where Jack rules his tribe. Although the island feels good at the beginning, it becomes a sinister place towards the end as the boys become more savage. The wider setting is an imaginary nuclear war that takes place in a time approximately contemporary with the novel’s publication in 1954.
The novel has a third person omniscient narrator. The narration follows different characters at different times, and sometimes gives a sense of what is happening when the boys are asleep or away. However, the narration does not give any details of what is happening beyond the island.
The language used in Lord of the Flies is mostly quite formal and occasionally complex. The novel features a lot of dialogue, developing the voices of the individual characters. The dialogue often features idioms, slang, and other language typical of young boys from the 1950s.