A plane carrying a group of schoolboys crashes on a tropical island. The schoolboys was meant to be evacuated from The World War Two...
No adults survive, but forty boys emerge unhurt. They find out that they have to make it on their on, and elects a leader; Ralph.
Jack the head of a group of choirboys, also wants to be a leader, and trough the entire story it’s easy to see that he is a little jealous on Ralph.
The main-characters we meet at the start are: Ralph, the diplomatic leader who tries to keep his head cold. Ralph says that they have to stick to rules if they shall manage.
Piggy is a chubby boy with glasses and a typically victim of teasing. But he is the most intelligent and moralistic of all the boys! And there’s Jack, a boy who in the beginning of the book talks about how proud he is being English, but in the end he’s looses all kind of moral and acts like a savage.
At the beginning everything seems to be all right, and the boys think the island is a paradise like in books they’ve read. But at a meeting a little boy claims he has seen a beast on the island. The older boys dismiss the idea as a nightmare, but the little ones are not comforted with this explanation.
As an attempt to soon be rescued from the island they light a fire on top of a mountain. So perhaps a ship or flight could see the smoke. The choir gets the job of keeping the little fire alive, but fails, and a ship passes. Ralph gets mad but Jack stresses that hunting pigs are more important. The pig hunting gets tragic consequences. Simon, one of the boys gets in the middle of a hunt in the dark and gets killed.
Later Jack becomes tired of Ralph’s leadership and wants a re-election. But again the boys prefer Ralph. Jack gets so mad that he runs away crying. He starts his own group - “The Hunters”.
The Hunters become more savage. The more primitive they become the more they terrorize Ralph’s gang.
Piggy and Ralph want to discuss with Jack and his gang and maybe come to an agreement again, but when they meet, The Hunters won’t listen to them. Piggy stays in the background – afraid maybe he’ll be beaten up. And he can’t see much because Jack has stolen his glasses. The noise from “The Hunters” makes a stone loose from the mountain and hits Piggy. He dies momentarily. Now Ralph is alone, and starts escaping from Jack’s gang.
“The Hunters” sets the island on fire to smoke out Ralph. Ralph runs towards the beach and practically runs into a Naval Officer who were standing there, attracted to the fire.
He’s shocked to hear that two kids have been killed, and can’t understand why English boys “can’t put up a better show”. The island is now completely burnt by the fire.
The end of the book could be said to be a happy, ironic ending, but it’s really another tragedy; the boys leave the war on the island for the war that is going on in the outside world, and they have probably not learned anything from their experience on the island, just like we still haven’t learned after two World Wars.