Audio+Book: Lord of the Flies

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William Golding’s classic novel of primitive savagery and survival is one of the most vividly written and gripping works in modern fiction.

The tale begins after a plane crash, when a group of English schoolboys – aged six to twelve – are washed up on an isolated tropical island. They initially try to govern themselves without adult support, but soon a struggle for leadership opens between two boys: Ralph tries to hold on to the symbols of civilisation and govern through consent and reason, while Jack uses fear to unite the boys and violence to suppress dissent. Golding’s portrayal of the collapse of social order into chaos draws the fine line between innocence and savagery is a dark portrait of human nature and mankind’s capacity for violence and irrationality.

For a 10-minute summary of the novel, watch this video:

On this page you can download the complete novel, and listen to the audiobook. But first, read while you listen to the extract, when the tension between Ralph and Jack begins to divide the whole group of boys. When you finish, answer the questions below. Remember that you can find the definition of any word by double-clicking on it.

The Lord of The Flies

 

First, fill in the gaps, then answer the questions below:

 

At last the words of the chant floated up to them, across the bowl of blackened wood and ashes.
“_Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood._”
Yet as the words became audible, the procession reached the 1.________ part of the mountain, and in a minute or two the chant had died away. Piggy sniveled and Simon shushed him quickly as though he had spoken too loudly in church.
Jack, his face smeared with clays, reached the top first and hailed Ralph excitedly, with lifted spear.
“Look! We’ve killed a pig–we stole up on them–we got in a circle–”
Voices broke in from the hunters.
“We got in a circle–”
“We 2.________ up–”
“The pig squealed–”
The twins stood with the pig swinging between them, dropping black gouts on the rock. They seemed to share one wide, ecstatic grin. Jack had too many things to tell Ralph at once. Instead, he danced a step or two, then remembered his dignity and stood still, grinning.
He noticed blood on his hands and grimaced distastefully, looked for something on which to clean them, then 3._______ them on his shorts and laughed.
Ralph spoke.
“You let the fire go out.”
Jack checked, 4._________ irritated by this irrelevance but too happy to let it worry him.
“We can light the fire again. You should have been with us, Ralph. We had a smashing time. The twins got knocked over–”
“We hit the pig–”
“–I fell on top–”
“I cut the pig’s throat,” said Jack, proudly, and yet twitched as he said it. “Can I borrow yours, Ralph, to make a nick in the hilt?”
The boys chattered and danced. The twins continued to grin.
“There was lashings of blood,” said Jack, laughing and 5.________, “you should have seen it!”
“We’ll go hunting every day–”
Ralph spoke again, hoarsely. He had not moved.
“You let the fire go out.”
This repetition made Jack uneasy. He looked at the twins and then back at Ralph.
“We had to have them in the hunt,” he said, “or there wouldn’t have been enough for a ring.”
He flushed, 6.________ of a fault.
“The fire’s only been out an hour or two. We can light up again–”
He noticed Ralph’s scarred nakedness, and the sombre silence of all four of them. He sought, charitable in his happiness, to include them in the thing that had happened. His mind was crowded with memories; memories of the knowledge that had come to them when they closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink.

(Here the narrator makes a comment on the text..)
He spread his arms wide.
“You should have seen the blood!”
The hunters were more silent now, but at this they buzzed again. Ralph 7.________ back his hair. One arm pointed at the empty horizon. His voice was loud and savage, and struck them into silence.
“There was a ship.”
Jack, faced at once with too many awful implications, ducked away from them. He laid a hand on the pig and 8.________ his knife. Ralph brought his arm down, fist clenched, and his voice shook.
“There was a ship. Out there. You said you’d keep the fire going and you let it out!” He took a step toward Jack, who turned and 9.______ him.
“They might have seen us. We might have gone home–”
This was too bitter for Piggy, who forgot his timidity in the agony of his loss. He began to cry out, shrilly:
“You and your blood, Jack Merridew! You and your hunting! We might have gone home–”
Ralph pushed Piggy to one side.
“I was chief, and you were going to do what I said. You talk. But you can’t even build huts–then you go off hunting and let out the fire–”
He turned away, silent for a moment. Then his voice came again on a 10.________ of feeling.
“There was a ship–”
One of the smaller hunters began to wail. The dismal truth was filtering through to everybody. Jack went very red as he hacked and pulled at the pig.
“The job was too much. We needed everyone.”
Ralph turned.
“You could have had everyone when the 11._________ were finished. But you had to hunt–”
“We needed meat.”
Jack stood up as he said this, the bloodied knife in his hand. The two boys faced each other. There was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill; and there was the world of longing and baffled commonsense. Jack transferred the knife to his left hand and smudged blood over his forehead as he pushed down the plastered hair.
Piggy began again.
“You didn’t 12._______ to have let that fire out. You said you’d keep the smoke going–”
This from Piggy, and the wails of agreement from some of the hunters, drove Jack to violence. The bolting look came into his blue eyes. He took a step, and able at last to hit someone, stuck his 13.________ into Piggy’s stomach. Piggy sat down with a grunt. Jack stood over him.
His voice was vicious with humiliation.
“You would, would you? Fatty!”
Ralph made a step forward and Jack smacked Piggy’s head. Piggy’s glasses flew off and tinkled on the rocks. Piggy cried out in terror:
“My specs!”
He went 14._________ and feeling over the rocks but Simon, who got there first, found them for him. Passions beat about Simon on the mountain-top with awful wings.
“One side’s broken.”
Piggy grabbed and put on the glasses. He looked malevolently at Jack.
“I got to have them specs. Now I only got one eye. Jus’ you wait–”
Jack made a move toward Piggy who scrambled away till a great rock lay between them.
He thrust his head over the top and 15.________ at Jack through his one flashing glass.
“Now I only got one eye. Just you wait–”
Jack mimicked the whine and scramble.
“Jus’ you wait–yah!”
Piggy and the parody were so funny that the hunters began to laugh. Jack felt encouraged. He went on scrambling and the laughter rose to a gale of hysteria. Unwillingly Ralph felt his lips twitch; he was angry with himself for giving way…..

Questions

Which of the characters do these sentences refer to? There may be more than one answer.

Ralph
Jack
Piggy
The Twins

1) Who is singing at the beginning of the extract?
2) Who stands still?
3) Who is carrying the pig?
4) Who is angry at the beginning of the extract?
5) Who killed the pig?
6) Who is conscious of an important change in himself?
7) Who justifies himself?
8) Whose desperation is enough for him to overcome his shyness?
9) Who first manages to influence the mood of the group?
10) Who threatens another boy?
11) Who flees?
12) Who reacts against his own will?

Answers below….

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Answers:

  1. steepest
  2. crept
  3. wiped
  4. vaguely
  5. shuddering
  6. conscious
  7. flung
  8. drew
  9. faced
  10. peak
  11. shelters
  12. ought: This structure – you didn’t ought to… – is a deliberate grammatical error from the author (these are schoolchildren). The structure should be: ‘You ought not have…’
  13. fist
  14. crouching
  15. glared

1) Who is singing at the beginning of the extract?            Jack & the Twins
2) Who is carrying the pig?                                                     The Twins
3) Who is angry at the beginning of the extract?               Ralph  (This is not apparent until later in the extract, when he begins to speak.)
4) Who killed the pig?                                                              Jack  (‘I cut the pig’s throat,” said Jack, proudly’)
5) Who is conscious of an important change in himself?  Jack and the Twins (‘memories of the knowledge that had come to them’)
6) Who stands still?                                                                 Ralph  (‘Ralph spoke again, hoarsely. He had not moved.’)
7) Who justifies himself?                                                        Jack (“The job was too much. We needed everyone.”)
8) Whose desperation is enough for him to overcome his shyness?   Piggy (‘This was too bitter for Piggy, who forgot his timidity in the agony of his loss.’)
9)Who first manages to influence the mood of the group? Ralph (‘One of the smaller hunters began to wail. The dismal truth was filtering through to everybody. ‘)
10) Who first threatens another boy?                               Piggy (“Just you wait–“)
10) Who flees?                                                    Piggy (‘Jack made a move toward Piggy who scrambled away’)
12) Who reacts against his own will?                                Ralph (‘Unwillingly Ralph felt his lips twitch; he was angry with himself’)

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