By Paul Blythe
With apologies to William Golding
During an unnamed time, a plane carrying a group of boys crashes over the Pacific. The pilot and crew of the plane are killed, but many of the lads survive the crash and find themselves stranded on an uninhabited island.
Amongst the oldest of the boys, handsome and confident is Arsène, whilst an ever so slightly clumsy boy with glasses who nevertheless possesses a keen intelligence is known as Manuel.
Arsène finds a conch shell, and when he blows it the other boys gather together. Among these boys is Grover an aggressive boy who marches at the head of his own choir.
Arsène, whom the other boys choose as chief, leads Grover and another boy, Walter on an expedition to explore the island. The three boys find a pig, which Grover prepares to kill but finally baulks at the responsibility, before he can actually stab it.
When the boys return from their expedition, Arsène calls a meeting, using the conch as his authority and attempts to set rules of order for the island. Grover initially agrees with Arsène, for the existence of rules means the existence of punishment and constant castigation for those who break them, but Arsène reprimands Grover for his lack of concern over long-term issues of successful survival.
Arsène proposes that they build a fire as high as they can on the mountain which could signal their presence to any passing ships and guarantee their rescue. The boys start building the fire, but the choirboys lose interest when the long task proves too arduous for them.
Manuel proves essential to the process: encouraging the younger boys to keep trying, not to give up and they use his glasses to start the fire.
All the while Grover tries to hunt pigs, Arsène orchestrates the building of shelters for the boys. The smallest boys have done their best, while the boys in Grover’s choir, whose duty is to keep the fire burning, and have spent the day idly surfing.
The boys soon settle into a daily pattern on the island. The youngest of the boys, known generally as the “young’uns,” spend most of the day practising their food gathering with increasing skill.
A ship passes by the island but does not stop, because the fire has burned out. Manuel blames Grover for letting the fire die, for he and his hunters have been preoccupied with glory hunting at the expense of their duty.
Arsène calls an assembly in which he questions the boys for not assisting with the fire or the building of the shelters and the storing of food for the lean times which must surely follow. He insists that the fire is the most important thing on the island, for it is their one chance for rescue, and declares that the only place where they should have a fire is on the mountaintop.
Arsène admits that the task is difficult but says that there is no legitimate reason to be afraid. Grover then yells at the young’uns for their fear and for not helping with hunting because they were busy finding food.
Manuel and Grover fight once more, and when Arsène attempts to assert the rules of order, Grover asks rhetorically whether anyone ‘cares about the rules,’ all Grover wants is the instant gratification of a successful hunt no matter what the cost.
The next morning, as the boys are travelling to the fire, they spot the dead pilot and mistake him for a living beast. Unfounded rumours quickly spread, they name the beast Quickfix.
Grover immediately calls for a hunt to chase the Quickfix, but Manuel and Arsène insist that they should stay together, for there is no need to chase the Quickfix as even if they caught it many could be injured in the trying.
The choir of hunters, now known as Chunters, while searching for the beast, Quickfix, finds a boar, Grover stabs it and it runs away. The Chunters go into frenzy, lapsing into their mindless “kill the pig” chant over and over again. Grover mocks Arsène for not wanting to hunt the Quickfix, claiming that it stems from his greed and cowardice.
Grover attempts to assert control over the other boys, calling for Arsène’s removal as chief, but when Arsène retains the support of the other boys Grover runs away, crying.
Manuel suggests that, if the beast prevents them from getting to the mountaintop, they should build a fire on the beach, and reassures them that they will survive if they behave with common sense and as a team.
Grover claims that he will not only be the chief of the Chunters, but of all the boys and that they will go to the sinking sands where they plan to build a wonderful house and have a feast. The Chunters finally kill a pig, and Grover smears the blood his face as a symbol of his success. They then cut off the head and leave it on a stake, Grover claiming he has mastered the Quickfix.
Grover brings several hunters back to the shelters, where he invites the other boys to join his tribe and offers them bribes of meat, porkies and the opportunity to chunt and surf all day. He steals the conch. All of the boys, except for Walter, Arsène and Manuel, are lured away by Grover’s false promises.
Meanwhile, Walter finds the pig’s head in the forest that the Chunters had left. He dubs it The Lord of the Lies because he realized it was not the Quickfix that Grover had proclaimed.
Walter then sees the dead pilot that the boys perceived to be the beast Quickfix and realizes what it actually is; he alone it seemed to have worked out the truth. He rushes down the mountain to alert all the other boys about what he has found.
Arsène and Manuel, tending the fire, decide to find the other boys to make sure that nothing unfortunate happens while they are pretending to be Chunters. When they find Grover, Arsène and Grover argue over who will be chief.
The boys panic when Arsène warns them that a financial storm is coming. As the fury of the storm breaks, Walter rushes from the forest, telling about the dead body on the mountain. Under the impression that he (of all people) is the beast, Quickfix, the boys descend on Walter and attack him.
At the sinking sands, Grover rules over the boys with the trappings of an idol. He has to keep one boy tied up, and he instils fear in the other boys by constantly brainwashing them about yet another beast called The Next Quickfix.
When Grover realizes this chief lark is not as simple as he thought, he doesn’t even know how they will cook his porkies; he claims that they will steal the fire from the other boys. Meanwhile, Arsène, Manuel and the Walter work tirelessly on keeping the signal on the mountain going.
During the night, while they’re asleep the Chunters attack the three boys, who fight them off but suffer considerable injuries. Manuel learns the purpose of the attack: they came to steal his glasses.
After the attack, the three boys decide to go to the sinking sands to appeal to Grover as civilized people.
When they reach the sinking sands on which Grover has built his shack, Grover summons the other boys with the stolen conch.
Grover tells Arsène, Manuel and Walter to leave them alone and when Grover refuses to listen to Arsène’s appeals to justice, Arsène calls the boy ‘a a a fool’. An incensed Grover tips a rock over on Manuel, causing him to fall down the mountain to the beach. The impact kills him and, to the delight of Grover, shatters the conch shell. Grover declares himself chief and hurls his spear at Arsène, who backs away.
Arsène regroups near the sinking sands, where he can see the other boys, whom he no longer recognizes as civilized boys but as savages.
Arsène realizes that the Chunters are rolling rocks down the mountain to drive him out. Arsène evades the other boys who are Chunting for him, and then realizes that they are setting the forest on fire in order to smoke him out-and thus will destroy everything left on the island, just to see him gone.
Beating a hasty retreat, Arsène finally collapses on the beach, where a naval officer has arrived with his ship in answer to the mountaintop beacon.
The Officer thinks that the boys have only been playing childish games, and he scolds them for not behaving in a more organized and responsible manner as is the British custom. He may just have been right.
And they all lived happily ever after, except the dead ones of course, oh and Grover who was unceremoniously thrown out of the choir not because of his actions on the island but because eventually his balls dropped and his voice broke.
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