This GCSE English Literature quiz will test you on character in Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Lord of the Flies is populated by a large group of schoolboys, although the reader, like the boys themselves, is never sure exactly how many there are. The key characters are Ralph, at twelve, one of the oldest boys on the island; Piggy, whose knowledge is vital to the survival of the others and whose real name is never given; Jack, the leader of the hunters; and Simon, first seen fainting after being made to march in the heat. Each of these four boys is well-characterised, while also symbolising particular human tendencies. Ralph holds to ideals of fair play, collective responsibility and confidence in the world governed by adults. Piggy trusts in evidence, knowledge and rules. Jack revels in the visceral pleasures of hunting and the mechanics of brute survival. Simon is attentive, observant and thoughtful.
The characteristics of the other boys are less detailed, allowing them to stand more generally for groups. Samneric represent the boys who are torn for a while between the two rival camps; the very young Percival represents the mostly unnamed little boys; and Roger embodies the cruelty of the choirboys-turned-hunters. The adults remain unnamed: Ralph’s father, Piggy’s aunt, the pilot, the naval officer.
Whenever you read a work of fiction, pay close attention to the way in which characters interact with each other and how the author reveals their private thoughts. How do the characters change over time? What clues does the author give you to show how a character is developing? The timescale of Lord of the Flies is relatively condensed: we know that the boys are on the island just long enough to grow malnourished; their hair becomes overgrown and their clothes ragged. Even in this short span of time, however, characters appear to change dramatically. Do the characters develop, or are they revealed through the adversity they face?
Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in Lord of the Flies.
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