Lord of the Flies

Students read and discuss William Golding's classic novel Lord of the Flies along with several non-fiction articles and poems, debating the question of the fundamental goodness/evil of human beings.

Unit Summary

William Golding’s classic novel, Lord of the Flies, will serve as the central novel of this unit. Students will also read a number of non-fiction articles, poems, and short pieces of fiction that investigate the human condition. A quotation from William Golding—“Look out. The evil is in all of us.”—acts as the central question of the unit, with students debating his statements about human nature and considering their positions on the fundamental goodness/evilness of human beings. Some of the thematic topics addressed are: the nature of evil, survival, order versus chaos and loss of innocence. 

This novel is written in a more archaic style than that of the other novels read this year. Exposure to unfamiliar phrases, expressions, and sentence structures will strengthen students’ abilities to tackle unfamiliar archaic texts in the future. Additionally, the ways in which Golding draws on biblical stories and allusions will be an area of focus, as will interpreting Golding’s use and development of symbols to convey meaning. The symbolic significance of the forest, ocean, conch, fire, “littluns,” smoke, glasses and the “Beast” will be investigated throughout the unit.

As the end of the year approaches, it is crucial that students get more practice independently analyzing and drawing conclusions from literature. As such, much of the reading should be done independently, with the teacher monitoring annotations and intervening only when absolutely necessary—checking less for the basic “what’s happening” and more for the “so what?” or “what does this mean?”

Major symbols: forest, huts, ocean, conch, “littluns”, fire, smoke, glasses, “Beast”, “Lord of the Flies”

At Match, students have a Composition class 4 days per week in addition to English class. Below, we have included Supplementary Composition Projects to reflect the material covered in our Composition course. For teachers who are interested in including these Composition Projects but do not have a separate Composition course, we have included a “Suggested Placement” to note where these projects would most logically fit into the English unit. While the Composition Projects may occasionally include content unrelated to English 9, most have both a skill and content connection to the work students are doing in their English 9 class.

In the literature lessons of this unit, students will analyze Lord of the Flies as well as a variety of poems and articles. While there are many thematic topics woven throughout the unit and novel, these supplemental Composition Projects will focus on the question that seems to be at the heart of the novel - are human beings fundamentally good or fundamentally evil? Students will write one literary analysis essay based on the novel and two narrative pieces that are thematically connected. In all three cases, students will focus on the same writing focus areas. These areas are mostly spiraling from the earlier units, providing students with opportunities to apply their writing skills to new projects. For the final essay, students will be asked to integrate evidence from at least two sources.

Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

  • Book: Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Perigee Books, Reissue edition, 2003)  


This assessment accompanies Unit 5 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep


  1. Read and annotate the novel with the key thematic questions in mind.
  2. Consider both key thematic questions and all of the possible sub-questions that students might pose or grapple with: Are human beings fundamentally good or evil? What makes a society functional/dysfunctional? What is the relationship between order and chaos?
  3. Read and annotate all paired texts.
  4. Take the unit exam and write a draft response to the essay prompt.

Essential Questions


  • Are human beings fundamentally good or fundamentally evil?
  • What makes a society functional? Dysfunctional?
  • What is the relationship between order and chaos? (The words civilization and savagery could be substituted for order and chaos if desired.)
  • How does an author use symbolism and allusion to convey theme?

Writing Focus Areas


English Lessons Writing Focus Areas

The suggested writing focus for this unit is the writing of clear and complex thesis statements and introductions that are then supported throughout the essay. If students have mastered this skill or the data is revealing another crucial area of focus, the teacher may choose to amend this suggested focus area.

  • There are no specific narrative assignments prescribed in this unit plan. For homework or as a Do Now, the teacher should include assignments that ask students to rewrite specific episodes of the text from a particular character’s perspective.
  • In addition to the focus on the thesis and introduction portions of our Composition Writing Rubric, this unit should include spiraled review of relevant and specific evidence as well as diction portions of the rubric.

Composition Projects Writing Focus Areas

Students will write a mix of literary analysis and narrative pieces in this unit, applying the writing skills they have practiced throughout the year. 

  • Thesis: Includes a clear and relevant thesis statement 
  • Analysis: Demonstrates clear and logical reasoning
  • Evidence: Draws relevant evidence to support position 
  • Diction: Uses advanced and specific vocabulary 
  • Professionally Revised: Complete and follows guidelines. Adequate revisions



Literary Terms

allegory, dystopia, theme, symbol, dramatic irony, irony, power dynamics, allusion, conflict, archetype

Roots and Affixes

in-, multi-


apprehension (11), specious (11), immersed (13), obscure (22), mirage (14), clamor (22), ascent (26), incredulous (29), enmity (14), eccentric (19), rational (36), martyr (38), errant (38), incompetence (40), subside (41), inscrutable (49 and 177), primitive (49), assented (42), furtive (49), tirade (45), conditioned (62), timid (63), tacit (65), resent (72), reverence (78), contempt (85) and contemptuously (101), relentless (101), oppressive ( 102), exasperation ( 102), antagonism (118), infuriating (121), diminishing ( 123), indignant (128), assurance (129), assured (132), dreadful (135), sufficiency (141), misguided ( 143), intersperse (146), inaudible (153), gesticulating/gestures (156 and 157), composite (166), luminous (169 and 174), timidly (171), multitudinous (173), incantation (180), inimical (187), ululation/ululating ( 189 and 191), scorched (202)

Idioms and Cultural References

“Lord of the Flies”; a wave of fear, closed circuit, storm of laughter, piggy in the middle

Content Knowledge and Connections


Having general background knowledge on World War II and the destruction caused by this war will serve as a useful backdrop for students’ understanding of this text.

Lesson Map


  • “Golding Obituary”

Explain how Golding’s experiences impacted his writing.

Formulate a position on some of the central thematic questions posed by the novel.


  • Stanford Prison Experiment

  • “All There is To Know...”

  • “Picture of Childhood”

Evaluate Golding’s opinion of humanity.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 7 – 13

Describe the power-dynamic between Ralph and Piggy by closely analyzing the author’s diction and descriptions.


  • Photo of Golding

  • Lord of the Flies pp. 14 – 21

Analyze word choice and characterization to draw conclusions about characters (Ralph, Piggy, Jack Merridew, the choir), evaluate the dynamics between them and make predictions about what the characters represent.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 22 – 31

Analyze word choice and characterization to draw conclusions about characters (Ralph, Piggy, Jack Merridew, the choir), evaluate the dynamics between them and make predictions about what the characters represent.


  • “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”

Summarize non-fiction and make connections between the non-fiction article and the novel.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 32 – 38

Identify evidence of theme, power dynamics, symbols, conflict, etc.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 39 – 41

Closely read a portion of the text in order to analyze the author’s word choice.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 41 – 47

Analyze how the author uses and develops symbols to convey important ideas.


  • “Andes Flight Disaster”

Read the article independently, drawing connections between the article and the novel.

Consider how Golding is developing the major themes of the novel, and to compare that with how the author of the article develops the same theme.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 48 – 55

Track major symbols/characters and explain how their development reveals theme.

Trace the escalating conflict between Jack and Ralph.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 55 – 57

Explain Simon’s symbolic significance on pages 55 and 57.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 58 – 64

Analyze specific lines of text and use them to draw conclusions about the theme of order and chaos.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 64 – 75

Explain how Golding develops the theme of chaos vs. order in pages 64-75.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 76 – 85

Identify the most important lines in this section of text and explain what makes the line significant.


  • “Freud's Theory”

Explain Freud’s theory of mind and define the three parts of the subconscious brain. Students will also be able to evaluate the major characters of the novel based on Freud’s archetypes.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 95 – 100

Analyze the symbol of the Beast and explain the role it plays in the novel.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 100 – 108

Describe the growing conflict between Ralph and Jack.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 109 – 123

Explain how Ralph’s internal conflict is developing.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 124 – 132

  • Genesis 2

  • Genesis 3 (New International Version)

Draw parallels between the biblical story of “The Fall of Man” and the boys’ experiences on the island.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 132 – 144 — focus on 143-144 and the description of Beelzebub

Explain the symbolism of the Lord of the Flies and the significance of Simon’s interaction with him.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 145 – 154

  • The Gospel of Matthew (New International Version) — Matthew 27:32-56, The Crucifixion of Jesus

Explain the ways in which Simon can be understood to be the “Christ” figure in the novel.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 155 – 168

Analyze the language Golding uses to describe the fight between the tribes of Ralph and Jack, making inferences about the author’s purpose.


  • Lord of the Flies pp. 169 – 182

Analyze Golding’s development of Piggy as a character and his significance in the novel.



  • Lord of the Flies pp. 183 – 202

Analyze specific excerpts of Chapter 12 and explain how they help to develop Golding’s message and themes.



Composition Projects

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.9-10.5 — Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

  • L.9-10.6 — Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.9-10.2 — Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.9-10.1 — Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

  • RL.9-10.2 — Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • RL.9-10.3 — Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

  • RL.9-10.4 — Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

  • RL.9-10.5 — Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.9-10.1 — Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9—10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

  • SL.9-10.1 — Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9—10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Writing Standards
  • W.9-10.1 — Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

  • W.9-10.1.a — Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

  • W.9-10.1.b — Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience's knowledge level and concerns.

  • W.9-10.2 — Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

  • W.9-10.2.a — Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

  • W.9-10.2.b — Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience's knowledge of the topic.

  • W.9-10.2.d — Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic.

  • W.9-10.3 — Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

  • W.9-10.4 — Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

  • W.9-10.5 — Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.

  • W.9-10.6 — Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology's capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

  • W.9-10.9 — Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

  • W.9-10.10 — Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.