An aircraft carrying 24 young American military school cadets returning home crash lands into the sea near a remote, uninhabited, jungle island in the Pacific Ocean. The pilot of the plane Captain Benson (Michael Greene), the only adult survivor, is seriously injured and delirious. All of the survivors arrive on the island. During the night, Simon, the most independent cadet, finds a river and notifies the other boys, which they all drink from and explore the island afterwards. Meanwhile, on the beach, an overweight cadet nicknamed "Piggy" (whose real name is never revealed during the story), a boy with glasses, finds a conch seashell and takes it to the grouped cadets, who adopt it to signal the right to speak and be heard by the group. The senior cadet, and one of the elder boys, Cadet Colonel Ralph, organizes a meeting to discuss surviving their predicament. Ralph and another of the older boys, Jack, emerge dominant, and an impromptu election is held to determine an official leader for the group. Ralph is declared the winner. They start a fire using Piggy's glasses to try and alert any passing craft. Things go smoothly for a while, but tensions soon begin to grow between Ralph and Jack.