Set-Up: Did you get that sneaky suspicion that this week’s in-class essay challenge — the group paragraph — covering chapters 5 & 6 in Lord of the Flies felt strangely familiar?

Sure, on one hand each of you had practiced this experience a week ago in a 2-day test run.  Hopefully this made it easier for each of you to sort out a) the how to organize group dynamics and b) how to translate many creative ideas into a single, well-worded, focused argument within a very short period of time.

But did you also get the sneaky feeling that the class experience itself was meant to mirror something on a much deeper level?

Hint: Maybe you’ll find the answer inside the text.  Perhaps Simon will tell you.


  • Read all 12 of the mini group student paragraphs found below.
  • Pick the 7 paragraphs that you believe are the most effective.
  • Identify 1 specific strength from each of the 7 paragraphs you selected.
  • Optional:  explain why each strength is particularly effective to the overall paragraph the group wrote.

Length: as appropriate

Ch 5: “Beast from Water” & Ch 6: “Beast from Air” small group mini-essay paragraph writing challenge (in lieu of the typical in-class essay).  Note:  all links can be found on the class wiki in the Lord of the Flies section:

Link: original quotations and assignment



  1. Paragraph 1: Whoa, I never thought about that thing with Piggy’s hair not groing. Cool point!

    Paragraph 2: That’s interesting how Jack’s rise in power corresponds with the boys’ rise in fear/savagery. I never noticed the way he contradicts himself with his disbelief and then belief in the beast.

    Paragraph 4: Nice connection with the fading conch. This group really backed up their points well.

    Paragraph 5: This one really nails Jack for his tyranny! Now I can really see what he’s been doing.

    Paragraph 6: I like the title, and I like the “rhythm to their madness” idea.

    Paragraph 8: Even though this one’s not long enough, it really communicates clearly. I like the point about why Ralph is afraid to blow the conch.

    Paragraph 10: The whole idea about the mask is strong and really supports their argument.

  2. (Not in order of best to worst)

    1. A State of Disarray
    “Fear, hunger, and lust for power have divided the group and thus transformed the majority of the boys from civilized human beings to savages.” I liked this line, but I think it would do better as a conclusion sentence than as their intro and topic sentence.

    2. The De-evolution from Civilization to Savagery
    This paragraph was well written and straightforward. They were able to explain their point quite well. “Ralph’s emphasis on civilization and rules maintains order within the boys until primordial instincts awaken and they turn to savagery.” This seems to be almost the entire point of chapters 5 and 6 with the ‘beastie’, so good for them!

    3. Descent Into Darkness
    “Exposure to the air had bleached the [conch] to near white and transparency” (78), and parallel to the fragility of conch, the boys’ connection to civilization is becoming transparent and weak. As their connection falls apart, fear starts to arise within the boys causing the Ralph’s leadership to disintegrate.” It was really cool how they compared the entire group of boys with the conch. This really got my attention.

    4. Metamorphosis into a Tribal Civilization
    Loved the intro sentence for this paragraph, though a little complicated. “Jack and the hunters become protectors of the community steadily gaining more value and importance.” This shows how Jack will gain more power and become the leader of the group. “The boys fear is pathological, catching and without reason. This fear turns the boys away from law because order forces them to face their fear, Jack is able to convince them “ [they] don’t need the conch anymore” , for his chaotic ways distracts the boys from what they wish not to think about.” I thought this did a really good job explaining the fear of the beast, and more so why the boys are turning chaotic and violent.

    5. Animals Can’t Make Fires
    I like the topic sentence and references to rhythm; it shows how life on the island is becoming normal and predictable/how some boys are becoming accustomed to it.

    6. “The Call to the Wild”
    To be honest, I thought this was the most well written paragraph. “Similar to how the boys were drawn to the conch originally, the appearance of Jack’s “mask compel[s] them.” (64) As the boys descend into the darkness of the jungle, they are unified no longer by a reminder of the adult and stable world, but rather by something they can relate to- a primal mask.” Really liked this but is the adult world still stable? There is a war (WWII) going on!

    7. Loss of the Supernatural Authority
    “Ralph and the conch become obsolete” Nice, simple way of putting it that proved their point concisely.

  3. After reading all 12 of the Lord of the Flies mini essays I have deciphered which 7 I believe are most effective.

    “The Menace Within”
    First off this is the title that drew me in the most. A title that can capture a reader definetly has to be present. This paragraphs strength was language. “their fear of the unknown beast becomes their fear of themselves” and “Jack’s sanguine actions pull attention from their hope of rescue to the thrill of the hunt” are both beautifully structured sentences. The overall paragraph is effective because of the language, the insight the writer was trying to pass on becomes more clear and chilling.

    “Descent into Darkness”
    Once again, the title was very powerful and pulled me in. The strength was how well the quotes were integrated. “as Ralph sees control slipping away, he seems to lose hope in their humanity as he watches ‘the breaking up of sanity'”. Overall the paragraph is effective because the quotes mesh so well it makes it seem their ideas have more concrete evidence.

    “The De-Evolution from Civilazation to Savagrey”
    The title, though a little long, lets the reader know exactly what the essay will be about and is quite powerful. The strength is giving the readers point of view. “The reader now sees that Jack is using this as an excuse for his own bloodlust and does not care about the safety of the group.” Overall the paragraph is effective because by giving the readers point of view, even if the person reading the essay has not read the book, they can peice together what the reader was thinking while reading the book.

    “Unknown Danger”
    The title is good in that it draws a reader in by making them wounder what the danger is. The strength is using quotes to reiterate what the reader sees. “Towards the end, the reader begins to see that as the light comes over the mountain top ‘the danger [fades] with the darkness.'”

    “The Call to the Wild”
    The title is good in that it is a play off of a common saying yet works well with the topic. The strength is using the perfect quotes to support the idea. “While the conch encouraged the boys to ‘have rules…lots of [them]’ and also to respect each others opinion, the mask ‘liberate[d] [them] from shame and self-consciousness.'”

    “Metamorphisis into a Tribal Civilization”
    The title allows the reader to know before reading exactly what the paragraph will be about. The strength of this paragraph is vocabulary. “This animalistic evolution seperates the boys from their consciouness catapulting them from their order of the conch into the violent turmoil of what is yet to come.” This makes the paragraph seem more thought out and overall more intellegent.

    “Evolution of the Conch”
    The title captures the attention of the reader by making them wonder how an inanimate object could evolve. The strength is a solid explanation of Ralph and Jack’s constant struggle for power. “Jack developes a way of getting through to all of the boys in a way Ralph could not.”

    Btw the quotations are not from the text, they are from the essays.

  4. The seven most effective mini essays are “A State of Disarray”, “Descent into Darkness”, “Metamorphosis into a Tribal Civilization”, “Animals Can’t Make Fire”, “The Beast Within”, “Devolution of the Conch”, and “Unknown Danger”.

    “A State of Disarray”- The introduction is very eye-catching. The first four words of the essay automatically hooked me in and made me want to read more of it. Some of the sentences could use better transitions between the ideas, but overall this sounds great.

    “Descent into Darkness”- The ideas presented in this paragraph were very strong. The main strength of it, to me, would be their first quote and what is said about it. The sentence itself could use rewording, but the idea great. I hadn’t even thought the implications of the bleached and fragile conch until now.

    “Metamorphosis into a Tribal Civilization”- I don’t like the wording of the first sentence, the second half of it seems very awkward to me, but the ideas presented in the sentence are the strength of this paragraph. They were able to show the dwindling democracy and how totalitarianism was gaining power really well.

    “Animals Can’t Make Fire”- I really liked the last sentence of this paragraph. It shows what really will happen if the boys don’t unite together and work together to achieve their goal of being rescued, they will be on the island forever. The last idea feels a little incomplete though, the idea could have used one or two more sentences to really solidify it and flesh it out.

    “The Beast Within”- The first sentence is very strong in that it sounds great and draws the reader in. Also, they do a great job of elaborating on the first sentence to prove what they say., how they were civilized and how they have transformed into something completely different. Some of the ideas seem a little advanced for where we are in the story. At this point, I don’t think we know enough for some of the conclusions made in the essay to have been made without too much guessing.

    “Devolution of the Conch”- The last sentence of this paragraph is very effective and strong. It does a great job in finishing the thoughts of the essay while still making a bold statement. I found it strange that the conch wasn’t really addressed in this paragraph, with the title “Devolution of the Conch”, I expected more of an analysis of the conch that the characters.

    “Unknown Danger”- The first few sentences of this paragraph are by far the best and strongest qualities of this paragraph. The sentences draw the reader in and makes the reader want to read to the end. However, the essay loses momentum in its last few sentences.

  5. “A State of Disarray”
    The thesis is straight-forward but very effective- the reader knows exactly what is going to be discussed in the essay. The point about “Piggy’s position outside the circle allowed him to see [allowed] him to see their transformation,” is one of my favorite quotes from their entire essay. I also really liked the point about the some of the boys wanting to kill and eat the pig, while others will just eat fruit so they can focus on rescue. I really liked this essay because it took simple, but not obvious, ideas from the book and combined them in an intriguing manner.

    “The Menace Within”
    In the first two sentences, the language really stuck out to me: “devolve,” “perpetual,” and “menace”. The second sentence is really interesting because the boys are now putting a face to their fears. The reader can actually watch the evolution of the boys on the island just by watching the evolution of the beast. I thought the overall essay was really intriguing because they seemed to say that beast is actually within each of the boys, and is not an actual creature.

    “Descent into Darkness”
    In the thesis, the part that stuck out to me the most was “their innate fear and savagery”, because it said that the boys were born with the potential to be savage creatures, and only now in the island is it being brought out. The “parallel to the fragility of conch, the boys’ connection to civilization is becoming transparent and weak” was very well stated and fascinating. What makes this essay successful is the fact that they took very simple quotes, but merged them together to help explain a complex idea.

    “The Beast Within”
    In the thesis, “the boys evolve from obedient products of society into savage animals,” was really intriguing because the boys used to be the very obedient children and school boys; however when given the chance to be free, the boys go the opposite direction, and no longer listen to the rules and become barbaric creatures. I really like the sentence “these children are at first incapable of acting outside of the barriers instilled in them by the world they have lost,” because the language is all fused together to make this wonderful point. Overall, this paragraph was very well organized because it showed the full transformation of the boys, from when they landed on the island until they become ruthless savages.

    “Evolution of the Conch”
    I really liked Student #3’s point about the title, “how an inanimate object could evolve.” The points about Jack replacing the conch are well made, and show insight to a new side of the story where the conch is not forgotten, but rather replaced by the authority of Jack. I also liked the detail about the discounting of the rules leading to the destruction of the island and society.

    “Devolution of the Conch”
    In the thesis, the point about “Jack voices his desire for an organization more like that of a dictatorship” is very curious and insightful into the mind of Jack. The overall points of this essay, laying out point-by-point about the evolution of the island society to that of a dictatorship is very fascinating. The reader watches as Jack slowly asserts his power over all the boys to become dictator. The boys are thrust into a conundrum, however, when “Jack being leader promises quicker satisfaction, such as the finding of meat, while Ralph strives to achieve a more long-term goal, that of being rescued.” Thought this was a very captivating essay that made me think about the book as I hadn’t yet done.

    “Unknown Danger”
    The title of this essay is intriguing because the boys do not know what they are afraid of. “The beast is not what they originally believed” is a simple phrase, and yet packs an enormous punch because as the boys evolve on the island, so do their ideas of what a ‘beast’ is. Another ‘rock-star’ sentence is “the proposal that they eat the same as the beast begins to enlist fear”. The boys are now not only terrified of the beast, but being compared to the horrendous creature itself. Finally, the points made about the fear of the ‘beastie’ leading to the further crumbling of society are very enthralling.

  6. Loss of the Supernatural Authority
    – I am so impressed with the title and the explanation behind it. I have also found that the conch was a symbol of authority but I never considered it to have a sort of hold over the boys. I did however, become confused when I read some of the quotes due simply to editing errors.

    Call to the Wild
    -This is an amazing paragraph I was intrigued from beginning to end. I had acknowledged Jack’s mask as a significant occurrence but the suggestion that the mask took the place of the conch is such a great instinct. This is backed up by the fact that the conch symbolized order and the mask symbolized savagery and so this occurrence represented the boys’ descent into a primitive state. Also I think the use of the word “conundrum” was so effective because the word has a rhythm to it which parallels the rhythms of the story.

    A State of Disarray
    – The way this paragraph portrays Piggy is fantastic, I truly have a visual of Piggy that I had not even considered. His nervousness and fear is due to the fact that he is still connected to society and he’s watching the rest of the boys transform because he is outside the “circle”. This paragraph has given me a much better understanding of Piggy and therefore truly the whole situation in the story. The only section of this paragraph that I disliked was the conclusion sentence because I felt it was meaningful but maybe not worded correctly.

    Unknown Danger
    -The use of the “pig” quote in this paragraph is so effective and brings up a point that I never considered. The fact that the boys eat the same thing that the beast would does create a strong tie between the boys and the beast. This tie is so strong in fact that perhaps Golding is pointing out that the boys are the only beasts on the island.

    Descent into Darkness
    -The connection between the boys’ distance from society and the conch’s fading color is such a great observation. I think that the conch’s fading color represents the boys fading need for order and society but I did not realize this until after reading this paragraph. The fact that the paragraph caused me to realize such a great similarity shows how effective it is.

    Metamorphosis into a Tribal Civilization
    -One of the reasons I picked this paragraph was simply because of the amazing title that just stood out among the others. I think the word “metamorphosis” is a great word for this situation and also I loved the conclusion sentence. I think the use of the word “catapulting” was great because this sounds like such a barbaric action. The only suggestion I would have for this paragraph would be to cut it down, because it seems some of the shorter sentences felt rushed and weren’t needed.

    Animals Can’t Make Fires
    – I liked the explanation of rhythm on the island because this was something I recognized but could not explain myself. The fact that the almost habitual rhythm develops in the boys for savagery and killing truly does foreshadow the shift in power which has already begun. Thank you to the authors of this paragraph because I finally feel as though I understand Golding’s intention with the rhythm.

  7. #1: “The De-Evolution from Civilization to Savagery”
    – This group made an excellent point when the talked about how Jack is indirectly shifting the trust of the boys through his obsession with destroying the beast.

    #2: “Descent into Darkness”
    – First of all, I think that the title of this paragraph is excellent. Second, the parallel between the conch being bleached white, and the boys’ weakening ties to civilization was brilliant.

    #3: “Metamorphosis into a Tribal Civilization”
    – I liked the way this group discussed the governmental structure on the island. They brought up democracy and totalitarianism and introduced me to a new way to think of the boys’ motives on the island.

    #4: “Unknown Danger”
    – I like the way this group describes the boys as having a loss of self control. It really highlights the point that they are the ones destroying themselves.

    #5: “The Call to the Wild”
    – Amazing line: “The mask releases the boys from the constraints and lessons taught in the civilized world, and instead instills in them a sense of primitive blood-lust.” This group used excellent language to get their point across. It really caught my attention.

    #6: “Loss of the Supernatural Authority”
    – I thought it was really interesting how this group referred to the conch as having “supernatural superiority.” I had definitely never considered the conch this way, but they make a really good point.

    #7: “Animal Can’t Make Fires
    – I really like the title of the paragraph. It is still complex and powerful without being extremely complicated. I like how they said that destruction was inevitable, but if the conch was disregarded it would be immediate.

  8. A State of Disarray
    “Fear, hunger, and lust for power have divided the group and thus transformed the majority of the boys from civilized human beings to savages.”
    I thought this was a good thesis because the visually descriptive words “Fear, hunger, and lust for power” grab the reader’s attention and imagination.

    The Menace Within
    I liked the concept of the “Beasty” evolving into something more powerful and frightening as the boys become less civilized and more frightened.

    Descent Into Darkness
    “…parallel to the fragility of conch, the boys’ connection to civilization is becoming transparent and weak.”
    I thought that this was a cool parallel. I also liked the title because it provides a contrast between the fragile transparency of the “boys’ connection to civilization” and the boys’ “descent into darkness.”

    Metamorphosis into a Tribal Civilization
    “This animalistic evolution separates the boys from their consciousness catapulting them from the order of the conch into the violent turmoil of what is yet to come.”
    I personally think that this is a well written statement because it evokes a dramatic visual image (anamalistic, catapult, violent turmoil).

    Animals Can’t Make Fires
    “It seems that this reverting back to primitive ways is inevitable…”
    I thought the idea of there being no hope for the boys retaining their sanity, that them turning into animals was inevitable, is an interesting take on the story. The group apparently thinks that humans are inherently primitive and uncivilized. That suggests that when control is lost, there will be no societal order, a reality that can be observed in some segments of our society today.

    The Call to the Wild
    I like the idea that the mask compels them to action in a manner similar to the mask in the movie “The Mask”, which had the power to enhance deeply suppressed aspects of the the wearer’s behavior. The boys are becoming more animalistic because they relate to the mask more than they relate to the conch, which resembles order.

    Unknown Danger
    I thought it was interesting how the group ties the proposal of the boys eating what the beast eats, in with the boys growing fear. I don’t completely understand, however, how the group makes the tie-in.

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