Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “Lord of the Flies” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “Lord of the Flies” in terms of the different elements that could be important in an essay. You are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from Lord of the Flies by William Golding, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Role of Adults in “Lord of the Flies”
The vast majority of Lord of the Flies takes place without adults. When the boys are stranded on the island, they are left to their own devices and it is not until the novel's end that an adult appears to rescue them. Despite the absence of actual adults, the boys are constantly referring to adults (see quotes, below) and they believe that they are attempting to construct an adult world. Write an analytic essay in which you discuss the symbolic importance of adults for the boys. Consider the possibility that the boys' efforts to imitate the adult world are destined to fail because they are simply not developmentally—cognitively or emotionally– ready to tackle adult challenges. A good place to start on this essay would be to examine the formation and eventual dissolution of the government and tentative society in “Lord of the Flies” (here is more information on that topic) You may wish to offer a close reading of one or more passages that address the role or idea of adults directly for this essay.Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Society-Building in Lord of the Flies
When the boys find themselves stranded on a remote island, they quickly begin the project of building a rough approximation of society and attempt to create a utopia in Lord of the Flies by William Golding. A society, of course, is characterized by rules, roles, and activities that identify the group of people of which it is comprised. For this essay on Lord of the Flies, analyze the society building process using a step-by-step approach. At first, there is so much hope and excitement, but everything quickly falls apart: Why? Be sure to examine the passages around pages 45-50, where it appears that nothing is happening. These lapses of activity are just as important as the violence that will follow them. Identify the main obstacle to the boys' society building efforts and explain whether you think there was any single moment where they could have saved their project from disaster.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Dynamics of Power in “Lord of the Flies”
One of the elements of society that the boys attempt to imitate early in their society-building project is that of establishing a hierarchy in which there is a designated leader whose job it is to inspire and guide his followers. While Ralph is elected as the “official” leader of the boys, Jack occupies a leadership role as well, given that it is he who is in charge of procuring food for the boys. Yet these two boys clash with one another because they perceive each as a threat to the other's power. Write an essay in which you explain the dynamics of power in Lord of the Flies. Be sure to acknowledge and discuss the role of the “little-uns” within the hierarchy of power the boys have established. If appropriate, you may also wish to offer some observations in this essay that make connections between the power dynamics among the boys and the power dynamics that characterize the almost invisible yet critically important backdrop of the novel—the war.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Devolving Into Violence
When one is a member of a relatively stable society, it is fairly simple to declare that one would never engage in the kinds of violence that are observed in unstable societies. The reader of Lord of the Flies may be shocked by the way in which the boys' individually and collectively become violent. They become so unimaginably violent so quickly that it is difficult to understand how sweet boys could be so cruel. Write an argumentative or expository essay in which you explain why and how this devolution into extreme, base violence occurred. You may choose to incorporate theories from psychology and sociology, if appropriate. Be sure to address two important motifs: (1) the frequent insistence on the importance of rules (and their inadequacy to protect the boys from their own violence) and (2) the regular references to savages and animals.
Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #5: Indeterminate Endings
At the end of the novel, the boys are rescued and their ordeal has ended. Yet there is something about the novel that is inconclusive and indeterminate: what happens to the boys when they return home? Can they reintegrate to a normal, stable society and readjust? This essay prompt requires some imaginative guess work in which you take on the role of the author. Explain what you think happens to the boys—either individually, as a group, or both—when they leave the island. Finally, offer some ideas about the reasons why Golding elected to conclude his novel in this way.
* Here is an excellent article on the role of government in the society in Lord of the Flies that will guide you no matter which of these topic you decide to use *
* If you're looking for an idea for a comparison essay on Lord of the Flies, here is an excellent example comparing the novel to Animal Farm by George Orwell
Lord of the Flies Response Journal – Clark IB Year 1
All responses are to be typed and clearly labeled. Length is up to you – be thorough. Each day the journals are due, a few of you will be selected to participate in a Socratic Circle to discuss that day’s journal and observations from the chapter. Be prepared!
1. Read the William Golding essay “Why Boys Become Vicious”and the one entitled THE COMPACT OF CIVIL SOCIETIES about Hurricane Katrina [both found on my site], : do you believe, as Golding does, that “evil is born within us”? Why or Why not? Do you agree with his assertion the dangers of children “are more powerful than any bomb”? Use your own observations of life to consider the following: is your generation dangerous and destructive? Explain. For the Katrina essay: What conclusions can you draw about human behavior from the actions being described in the piece? Do you think these conclusions are valid? Explain.
2. I’d like you to observe and analyze—but NOT judge—a clique or social group at RHS, one that you do not belong to or have ties with. The lunch room is probably the best place for this research, but you may also conduct your observations in the library, terrazzo, or in a classroom. Discuss what patterns you see: are there certain mannerisms, behavior codes or other specific qualities that characterize this group? Consider things like language, clothing preferences and group dynamics…is there a clear leader, a collective or is there constant jostling for control? If you know a person outside the context of the group, how do they behave differently when with that group? Note: Psychologists don’t reveal the identities of their subject matter; give your group a name (i.e., “The Jocks”) and label students anonymously (“Student A” and so forth.)
Chapter One-Sound of the Shell
1. When Piggy reveals the name the kids at school called him, he is placing his trust in Ralph not to tell anyone else. When did you realize that this trust in Ralph was a mistake? Were you surprised that Ralph mishandled Piggy’s trust?
2. When Jack and the choir arrive in their uniform cloaks with insignias, we are told, “Piggy, asked no names. He was intimidated by this uniformed superiority and the off-hand authority in Meridew’s voice.” What can you infer about Piggy’s character? Can this quote be a foreshadowing of things to come? If so what?
3. Shortly after revealing Piggy’s secret, we are told, “Ralph, looking with more understanding, saw that he [Piggy] was hurt and crushed. He hovered between the two courses of apology or further insult.” What can you infer about Ralph’s character? Why is this quote significant?
4. As Simon, write a letter home telling your parents about your new friends, Ralph and Jack.
5. As Piggy, write a letter to your Auntie describing what has happened to you and telling her how you feel about it.
Chapter Two-Fire on the Mountain
1. Because everyone is talking at once, Ralph says that they’ll have to have rules. “We’ll have to have ‘hands up’ like at school.” Shortly after, Jack says, “We’ll have rules…Lots of Rules! Then when anyone breaks em—.” The implication is that punishment for breaking rules will be severe. Write an entry in your journal describing this scene and explain what you think it reveals about Jack.
2. As Ralph is trying to convince the others that there is no beast on the island, we are told, “Ralph was annoyed and, for the moment, defeated. He felt himself facing something ungraspable.” Why is this moment important? Explore Ralph’s thoughts.
3. On the mountaintop, Jack and Ralph share the burden, glamour, and adventure of life on the island. In your opinion, in what ways are Jack and Ralph similar and in what ways are they different?
Chapter Three-Huts on the Beach
1. We are told that Jack and Ralph both come to hate each other. Write an explanation as to why they start to hate each other.
2. Jack appears to be obsessed by the idea of killing a pig, so much so that he puts it before more urgent needs. Have you ever felt that way or have you known anyone who has been obsessed by an idea? Write about that obsession and the power it had to dictate behavior.
3. Ralph is frustrated and disappointed because, except for Simon, none of the others are much help. Do you think there is anything Ralph could do to get better results? Why or Why not?
Chapter Four-Painted Faces and Long Hair
1. Complete these lines of dialogue: DO NOT WRITE THE DIALOGUE IN YOUR RESPONSE
First Student: All these chapter titles seem to symbolize something.
Second Student: Well, I see that the titles of chapters one and two are symbols, but I do not see anything being represented in the chapter titles for three and four.
Third Student: In chapter three, the “Huts on the Beach” may represent civilization.
You: In that case, chapter four, “Painted Faces and Long Hair,” must represent…
2. If you understand why Roger and Maurice purposely destroyed the sand castles of the younger boys and threw sand in Percival’s eyes, tell your friend who cannot understand why the boys did what they did.
3. Some readers think that in this chapter we see Jack turning into a savage. Why do you suppose they say that?
Chapter Five-Beast from the Water
1. Ralph realizes that a good leader must also be able to think: “if you were a chief you had to think, you had to be wise.” Due to Ralph’s insight into the value of thinking, his opinion of Piggy changes: “for all his ludicrous body, [Piggy] had brains.” Relate a time when your opinion about someone close to you changed because of some new depth of understanding or insight on your part.
2. Simon tries to identify the beast the children fear, but he “became inarticulate in his effort to express mankind’s essential illness.” He says, “What I mean is∫maybe it’s only us.” No one listens to him, and the meeting deteriorates without achieving Ralph’s objectives, that of building huts and maintaining a fire. Help Simon, who has trouble speaking in the meeting, by writing a letter from him to Ralph explaining the nature of the beast the children fear.
3. Ralph considers giving up being chief. Piggy says to Ralph, “If you give up, what’d happen to me?” Piggy needs his alliance with Ralph to protect himself from Jack. Consider how you would feel if you were Ralph, and an unpopular classmate needed your help to keep from being hurt by the other students. How would you handle the situation? Was the situation handled well?
Chapter Six-Beast from the Air
1. Complete this dialogue:
First Student: Piggy is a wimp. All he does is clean his glasses and cling to Ralph.
Second Student: Yeah, but he does seem to know more than the other boys.
Third Student: This book is full of symbolism. Maybe Piggy’s glasses symbolize something.
You: I think you’re right. Piggy’s glasses could be a symbol for …
2. On the trek to find the beast, Simon reflects on his inability “to speak at an assembly…without that dreadful feeling of the pressure of personality.” What does he mean by this? What is Simon scared of?
Chapter Seven-Shadows and Tall Trees
1.Complete this dialogue:
First Friend: Boy, Jack is all talk. He is really a coward.
Second Friend: I don’t think Jack is a coward. He did go looking for the beast alone in the dark. Ralph is the one who is afraid.
You: There is a difference between feeling afraid and being a coward. Both Jack and Ralph …
2. Ralph and Jack struggle for power. Ralph wants to wait until morning to continue looking for the beast, but Jack wants to keep looking. Ralph asks Jack, “ ‘Why do you hate me?’ The boys stirred uneasily, as though something indecent had been said. The silence lengthened.” Write an entry in your diary describing how you felt witnessing this painful exchange between Ralph and Jack. Comment on who you think is the stronger leader at this point in the story.
3. In this chapter, Ralph succumbs to the excitement of the hunt. Robert pretends to be a pig, and the group pokes him with sticks and chants, “Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!” Ralph, a character who has in the past behaved in a civilized manner, participates in this violent ritual. What is your opinion concerning the believability of Ralph’s involvement in the “pig” hunt?
Chapter Eight-Gift for the Darkness
1. At first, none of the boys follow Jack when he claims that he will not participate anymore.” Write a letter to a friend describing this scene and explain why Jack’s hunters fail to support him when he calls for a vote to remove Ralph as chief. How would you rate Jack’s maturity level at this point in the story?
2. Jack comes to invite the others to join his hunting party. He is naked, except for the paint on his face. “He was safe from shame or self-consciousness behind the mask of his paint…” In our world, some people hide behind sunglasses or behave differently when talking on the phone. Some drivers, who are usually nice people in their everyday lives, become very aggressive on the road. Why do you think humans might behave differently when their identities are hidden?
3. Simon believes the Lord of the Flies is talking to him. “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 Lord of the Flies seems to be telling Simon that the evil, the beast, is part of the boys. Describe the evil that is part of Jack, Piggy, and Ralph, and people in general.
Chapter Nine- A View to a Death
1. Jack encourages his followers to dance and chant, “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” In your opinion, what is the purpose of the dancing and chanting? To overcome fear? Secure Jack’s position as chief? Something else?
2. ----- awakens in the clearing after his seizure. He says “What else is there to do?” Then ----- makes his way to the body of the dead pilot. Some critics believe the author is saying that the only way to defeat evil is to face it. Do you believe this to be true? What does this say about -----?
3. Ralph and Piggy join in with the others and kill -----. Write a letter from Ralph to ----- family trying to console them and explain how ----- died. Explain your participation in the killing, also.
Chapter Ten-The Shell and the Glass
1. Ralph tries to talk to Piggy about ----- murder to make himself feel better about it, but Piggy refuses to admit that they contributed to ----- death. Describe the circumstances of the crime and why you think the criminal refused to admit any guilt.
2. Jack is a chief now and holds meeting, but these meetings are very different from the assemblies Ralph called with the conch. Which of these two leaders do you think is the strongest? If you were chief, how would you conduct the meetings?
3. Ralph, Piggy, and Samneric all decide to let the fire go out at night because it is too difficult for them to keep it going twenty-four hours a day. Jack’s original plan was just to steal some fire to have a pig roast. When there was no fire, though, Jack takes -----. Because of the decision not to maintain the fire, ----- suffers a paralyzing loss. Describe this incident and explore the characters feelings.
Chapter Eleven-Castle Rock
1. While Ralph and Jack are fighting, Piggy says to Ralph, “remember what we came for. The fire. My specs.” Piggy reminds Ralph to protect him because Piggy is extremely vulnerable without his glasses. Explain to a classmate who does not understand why Ralph seems to keep forgetting Piggy and the fire.
2. ----- “with a sense of delirious abandonment” releases the lever sending the boulder over the cliff and kills -----. Jack breaks the stunned silence by threatening Ralph and then hurling a spear at Ralph. For what reasons were you or were you not surprised by ----- killing ----- and Jack’s attack on Ralph? Throughout this novel, the boys enjoy teasing and ridiculing Piggy. Relate an incident you may have witnessed where teasing goes too far and causes someone real physical or emotional harm. Why do you suppose teasing frequently escalates to violence?
Chapter Twelve-Cry of the Hunters
1. “Ralph put his head down on his forearms and accepted this new fact like a wound. Samneric were part of the tribe now.” Ralph feels betrayed by Samneric. Write a letter from Samneric to Ralph explaining why they are now part of Jack’s tribe.
2. At the end of the story, after Ralph knows he is rescued, he begins to sob with “great, shuddering spasms of grief.” Why do you suppose Ralph cries after the danger is over? How do you think you might react in a similar circumstance?
3. The officer on the beach says, “I should have thought that a pack of British boys—you’re all British, aren’t you?—would have been able to put up a better show than that—I mean––” This speech implies that the officer is disappointed in the behavior of the boys on this island. Yet, ironically he is an officer on a ship fighting in a terrible adult war. Discuss the parallels between adults during war and the children on the island.