Characters are integral to a narrative, whatever genre it may take. They play an important role in the evolution of social issues, themes, and motifs. Characters also create suspense, curiosity, and creativeness in a story. They make up most of the story along with the setting, plot, and situations. The number of character determines the complexity of the story. The characters in Lord of the Flies by William Golding are mostly children, stranded on an island. Some of the significant characters are discussed below.
Characters in Lord of the Flies
The first boy, who lands on the island is Ralph. Not only is he the protagonist, but also the leader of the boys who slowly emerges out of the forest. As Ralph is the oldest and tallest, he assumes leadership on Piggy’s suggestion. He thinks Piggy as a creative and rational soul and pays heed to his suggestions. Ralph becomes the leader because of his calmness and rational thinking. He also possesses sound and strong moral obligation to unite the boys and to save them. Ralph tries to fight the bad influence of Jack but faces defeat. Hence, in the end, he is forced to flee from Jack’s hunters to save his life. He ends up before the British naval officer who saves his life from the hunters and asks him the reason for their presence on the island.
Despite his hefty body, awkward posture and physical deformity, Piggy is the only sane voice among the boys. He takes care of the “littluns” and suggests new ideas to save the boys and trusts in the leadership of Ralph. He urges Ralph to take reins of the leadership to defy Jack’s assertion. He recognizes the importance of being rescued and hopes to leave the island. He also suggests using fire for rescue to save the boys. Seeing him as a threat to his domination, Jack plans to kill Piggy to end the rivalry. Piggy’s death is mourned as the end of rationality on the island. Following his death, Ralph is left alone to take care of the “littluns” and finally has to protect himself from Jack and the hunters.
The leader of the masked boys, who make up the choir, Jack Merridew is an aggressive and cruel boy. He is a skilled manipulator who knows how to manipulate things to dominate. He gathers all the boys in the name of a hunting group. He soon provokes them by taking charge and leads them against Ralph, the first leader. Seeing Piggy as an obstacle, he plans to kill him and then use Ralph, a scapegoat. His eagerness to spread violence ends when the naval officer arrives and saves Ralph from his hunting party.
Having a deep relationship with nature, Simon can be described as an introspective boy. He represents the spiritual aspect of the boys with rational thinking of Piggy. Simon remains alone and does not merge with the other boys. He is the one who suggests the beast is actually the dead pilot but fails to express the same in clear words. He instead represents a Christ-like figure as Golding himself has suggested at a point in the novel.
Sam and Eric: Samneric
Although Sam and Eric are two different characters, they are twin brothers and are identical. Their resemblance is so close that they sometimes think and speak together. They also seem to have some understanding of following a leader. That is why they stay loyal to Ralph and Piggy until it the very end and also take care of the fire. Golding’s naming them as Samneric may point to individualism and its status in a community.
Maurice is a tall and sturdy young boy. He is one of the best hunters. He forces and trains the boys to learn hunting. For this, he pretends as a pig and makes others hunt him in a fake chase. In fact, Maurice is the representative of a mindless mob who acts on the popular issues without considering consequences.
Percival is one of the “littluns”. He is one of the important characters due to his innocent acts of repeating his own name and recalling his home. When he comes to know that he may not be meeting his family members and others, he becomes hysterical. Other older boys comfort him. He represents the little boys who are habitual of not taking care of themselves and are dependent on their families.
The Naval Officer
The naval officer is the only adult in the novel. However, he appears in the end during utter the chaos and disorder. He comes face to face with Ralph and inquires him and his pursuers what they are doing. He informs Ralph that he has come to the island to see the cause of the fire. He then assures the boys that he has come to take them home. It is, however, quite strange that he has not become aware of the bloody games the boys were playing at the time of his arrival. He thinks that they are only showing unruly childish behavior over which he chides them. His uniform, his weapon, and his soldierly manners remind the readers that he is the representative of civilization and has come to restore the lost order.
Although the beast is not a physical character in the novel, it has two representations at different places. If taken from the perspective what Simon has seen, the beast is the disfigured body of the pilot. The pilot’s parachute gets caught in the trees, and he dies. His face is hidden in the swarm of flies. The second is the unseen animal or thing that terrifies the boys. The boys think that the beast visits them when they are sleeping to scare them. Although Simon has seen it, he could not explain it to the other boys. He also realizes that the invisible beast of evil exists in every boy. Different people use this beast for different purposes. Jack uses it to create fear and to gather hunters to track the beast down and save others. Simon uses it to show his spiritual side and Ralph uses it to show and prove his leadership qualities.