Chapter 4

Painted Faces and Long Hair

This chapter begins with the admission that the boys are still gripped by “the northern European tradition of work, play, and food right through the day,” which makes it impossible for them to wholly adapt to the island’s natural daily rhythms and cycles.

The admission is followed by a description of the characters of the younger boys, called “the littluns,” and the observation that the camp is divided into two groups: littluns and “biguns,” or older boys. One littlun named Percival cries often and plays little. The other littluns, however, pick fruit most of the day and eat it, regardless of whether or not it is ripe. They become acclimated to chronic diarrhea and stomachaches. They do not often cry for their mothers, and respect the summons of the conch because Ralph resembles for them an aspect of the adult world of rules and regulations. Aside from that, they have little interest in the goings-on of the biguns.

For the time being, the littluns enjoy building sand castles. This is what Henry, Percival and Johnny are doing when two biguns, Roger and Maurice, appear from the forest. Roger and Maurice immediately destroy the castles of the littluns and laugh as they do so. The littluns make no protest—except for Percival, who receives an eyeful of sand from Maurice. This action pricks Maurice’s conscience, and he excuses himself from the scene by going for a swim.

At length, Henry wanders away from the play and Roger follows him. A wind loosens some nuts from a palm tree. Roger picks them up and throws them in Henry’s direction, taking care not to hit the boy, who to his mind is still protected by the “taboo of the old life.” As Golding states, “Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law. Roger’s arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins.”

Jack beckons Roger to join him and the other hunters. Jack has devised a...

Read full document

Related Essays