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Lord of the Flies - Themes

This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at theme in Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Theme, in literature, is an idea conveyed by a text. Even the most simple work of literature is certain to contain several themes. These themes can range from those you couldn’t possibly miss to the more subtle ideas you only notice after reading a work for the third time. The various themes of a text will usually interact in conversation with one another, rather than operating in isolation. Authors use the essential elements of fiction, including setting, character, plot and dialogue, in order to develop theme.

You have probably noticed that related ideas and concepts pop up in different places in a text you are reading. These related ideas are the text’s themes. To analyse them, you might begin by considering how these ideas are introduced and develop over the course of the text. One good place to start is by considering your own opinions: have you been prompted to reconsider any of your own opinions on the ideas with which the text is concerned?

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After you finish reading a text, spend some time comparing the thoughts and views you hold at the end with those you held prior to reading the book. Have any views changed or perhaps been strengthened? Could you explain why/why not? Try to identify the section of text which has challenged or confirmed your personal views. If an author has successfully encouraged you to engage with the themes of the text, you will find yourself thinking hard about the issues and maybe even changing your mind. Always remember that you do not have to agree with other readers. Your response to a text will be personal, because you, like other readers, bring your own thoughts, beliefs and experiences into consideration while reading.

Lord of the Flies deals with themes of innocence, violence, the rule of law, knowledge, leadership, evil, friendship and civilisation. Read the questions below and test your knowledge of the themes of Lord of the Flies.

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  1. The first priorities for the boys are to explore the island, build shelter, make a fire, find food and agree basic hygiene rules. These efforts are related to which of the following?
    In the beginning all the boys accept the need for cooperation and rules to ensure survival. Their incipient civilisation falls apart as the group descends into a more basic group structure defined by power and violence
  2. The conch is the agreed symbol of authority on the island. It challenges which of the following?
    The conch symbolises the authority conveyed by agreement and by the boys' consent to be governed by rules and by their chosen leader. This form of authority is challenged when the strongest, the oldest and the most violent boys set up their own camp and is eventually defeated when the attack on Piggy also smashes the conch
  3. Hunting pigs gives the boys a taste for violence. Which of the following is also correct?
    Having meat to eat aids the boys' chance of survival, but the practice of hunting leads to a violent society in which the weak become dependent on the strong and are expected to obey in return for food
  4. Which of the following is NOT linked to the theme of violence in the novel?
    The election of Ralph as leader represents the initial cooperative decision-making which later collapses into violent action as the boys hunt, steal resources and eventually kill
  5. Which of the following appears to be missing from the final episode in the novel, when the boys are finally rescued?
    Even rescue does not offer hope. The adults who arrive on the island after it has been set on fire are themselves engaged in violence and war - there is no escape
  6. When the boys first begin to explore, the island appears to be which of the following?
    The island has everything which the boys will need for survival and resembles the islands of adventure stories. The novel also references the story of the Garden of Eden, in which Adam and Eve are tempted by the devil in the guise of a serpent. The Lord of the Flies refers to the devil, and the first reports of the Beast describe it as a snake. The boys "fall" from this initial paradisal state
  7. In Lord of the Flies, where is evil located?
    While all the other boys fear the unknown, Simon recognises that evil, or the will to do violence to others, comes from within
  8. Ralph mourns for Piggy at the end of the novel. How does he remember his companion?
    Piggy was Ralph's most loyal friend, his loyalty remaining unshaken even when the two were in disagreement
  9. The boys, who have been through a traumatic evacuation and plane crash, suffer from nightmares and generalised fear. What name do they give to their fear?
    One of the boys claims to have seen a snake-like beast which came in the darkness, wanting to eat the children, before turning into vines in the morning. This boy is the first to die on the island when the fire gets out of control
  10. Samneric feel both nervous and guilty when speaking to Ralph and warning him that Jack plans to hunt and torture him. Their internal conflict relates to which one of the following themes?
    The separation of camps on the island, which results in division, highlights the importance of loyalty. Jack demands loyalty and would see Samneric's conversation with the "enemy" as disloyal. The twins' continuing loyalty to Ralph leads them to feed and to warn him, although they do not intend to defend or protect him (and thus draw the violence onto themselves)

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