Lord of the Flies


Chapter 7

Shadows and Tall Trees

On the way to the mountain, Ralph indulges in a daydream in which he has all of the conveniences of civilized life: soap, scissors with which to cut his hair, clean clothes, trim nails, a toothbrush. While the other boys make their toilet in the woods, Ralph crosses over to the rocks and looks out to sea. He begins to feel oppressed by the immenseness of the ocean and the distance between himself and the other world. As he tenses, caught by this oppressive spirit, Simon approaches and, seeming to sense what is bothering Ralph, assures him that he will get back home. Ralph asks Simon whether the boy has a ship in his pocket. It is a moment of genuine humor, somewhat unprecedented in the novel. Pain is alleviated by jest, but nonetheless accepted as reality.

While Simon and Ralph look out to see, the other boys discover fresh pig droppings. Jack wants to lead the hunt, and Ralph allows it, so long as they continue to head toward the mountain. With Jack leading the way, Ralph falls back and is somewhat content to take his time and hold onto his spear. He returns to daydreaming.

His daydream brings to mind some episode of his past—a scene of domestic life when Mummy still lived with Daddy. Obviously, Ralph’s childhood home has been marred; whether it is by social upheaval (war), divorce, or death is not precisely clear. He remembers, however, a kind of serenity when his family unit was whole: He recalls his bedroom, his books, and in a sense, something of his identity. His memory, in other words, is beginning to function.

His memories are intruded upon, however, by the appearance of a boar. Ralph hurls his spear at the boar, and it sticks momentarily in its snout. Jack pursues the pig, but it gets away. Ralph begins to glow with pride and exhilaration. Now he understands the thrill of the hunt. He boasts of his spear-throwing. Jack returns with a wound on his arm where the one of the boar’s tusks ripped into him. Jack’s wound is even more impressive than Ralph’s...

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