Lord of the Flies


Chapter 2

Fire on the Mountain

Ralph gathers the boys by blowing the conch. Feeling the effects of sunburn, most of the boys have put their clothes back on. The choir, on the other hand, has shed their cloaks. Ralph explains to the boys that they are indeed on an island, and Jack immediately interrupts with the urgent message that an army of pig hunters must be organized. Ralph makes a new rule: Whoever wants to talk must hold the conch, and then no one can interrupt except Ralph. Jack excitedly speaks about making lots of rules and punishing rule breakers. A kind of primitive discourse follows. It is quite clear that Golding’s characters are savages masquerading as children. To restore order, Piggy takes the conch and tries to remind everyone that no one knows where they are.

Ralph insists that they are on a good island and that they will have fun while the adults search for them. Jack asks whether any of the other boys found anything worth mentioning. The younger boys push forward a small six-year-old who is reluctant to speak. The little boy speaks quietly of a “snake-thing” and a “beastie” that he saw in the woods. Ralph brushes off the notion of a “beastie” as being the product of the boy’s imagination, or perhaps a nightmare.

Jack grabs the conch and confirms that there is no beastie, but that if there were, they would hunt it and kill it. Ralph begins to feel his authority slip. The specter of the beast is being used by Jack as a ralliement—a platform upon which he can excite the crowd and win its confidence. Ralph tries to regain his position of power by insisting that there is no beast. He takes the conch and appeals to the boys’ two main desires, which he believes are to be rescued and to have fun. Under his watch, he asserts, they will have both.

Ralph speaks of his father’s role in the Navy and how the Queen has maps of all of the islands in the world. He tells them that a ship will likely be sent out. He says that a fire is necessary to signal the...

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