Lord of the Flies


Chapter 6

Beast from Air

The boys lift Percival and carry him into a hut. An aerial combat is being waged over the sea. The war can be viewed from the island; lights move quickly across the sky and disappear. The sign from the grown-up world that Ralph longed for at the end of the preceding chapter now descends upon the island: “There was a sudden bright explosion and a corkscrew tail across the sky.” A plane is shot down, and a man in a parachute descends to the mountainside. He is dead. The wind catches in the parachute, however, and lifts the body up the mountainside. It frightens the fire watchers, who run to Ralph and speak of a beast.

In the morning, Ralph calls another meeting. There is more fighting over the conch. Finally, Ralph is able to use reason to bring to the minds of the boys the importance of keeping the fire lit. He asks them whether or not they want to be rescued. As they are not gripped by emotion, they admit that they do want to be rescued. The power balance tips back toward Ralph, who now feels that he must confront the issue of the beast to keep the fear from growing out of control. He is uncomfortable with the fact that even while he is speaking the fire is going out, but nonetheless he continues on with the assembly and asks Jack whether there is anywhere on the island that has not yet been explored. Jack admits that there is one place: A kind of castle-like cave on the other side of the island. The boys set out on another expedition.

Upon arriving at the rocklike fortress, there is some fear among the boys as they imagine that the beast is real and lives in this location. Ralph overcomes his fear and, assuming his responsibility as chief, goes alone into the “castle.” He is followed shortly by Jack. Once the “castle” is cleared, the other boys join Jack and Ralph. They see the place as somewhere they can have fun. Ralph’s mind, however, drifts back toward the fire on the mountain. He is worried that it might burn out. He commands the boys to stop their horseplay, and they...

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