The setting of Lord of the Flies is somewhat vague. The island is unnamed, and besides stating that it is during wartime, there is no specific date given. The island is uninhabited, and characterized by a beach, jungles, orchards, and a rocky mountain. The jungle that surrounds the characters represents death. It is dark and entangled in vines, which remind the small boys of snakes, and instill fear. This setting is also significant because it is isolated from civilized society. As the plot progresses, the lack of civility causes the society, built by the children, to deteriorate.
At about twelve years old, Ralph is among the oldest of the boys on the island. He is described as a “fair-haired” boy with mild facial features. He is the first character introduced and plays the role of the protagonist. He is somewhat charismatic, but is admittedly frightened by the situation. Ralph begins as an innocent boy but ends up very mature from dealing with conflicts and adult decisions throughout his leadership. He believes that survival can only be achieved by the presence of peace and order. He tries, somewhat unsuccessfully, to build a stable, civilized society. Ralph is a perfect character however. He struggles as a leader, and has to rely on Piggy, a boy who he respects for his maturity and knowledge, for advice. As the chief, Ralph notices that many of the boys are not following the rules, but he does not subject anyone to punishment. This leads to anarchy, and the creation of Jack’s tribe. Eventually, many of the boys abandon Ralph, and although against his initial values, he tries to join Jack to escape the loneliness he has experienced. Toward the end of the novel, Ralph is hunted by Jack and his followers, but is able to the beach where he finds a naval officer to rescue him. This is the first time that Ralph is relieved from his internal and external conflicts.
Piggy, who is about the same age as Ralph, never reveals his actual name throughout the novel. He is overweight, asthmatic, and wears glasses. These physical weaknesses cause him to be whiny and less useful in work. He is described as a bad looking character, who is disrespected and considered an outsider by the rest of the boys.