Lord of the Flies


Chapter 8

Gift for the Darkness

The boys wrestle with fear. Ralph sees the beast as a representation of the ultimate danger that the boys face: “That thing squats by the fire as though it didn’t want us to be rescued.” Jack sees the beast as a challenge, and he is indignant at Ralph’s realistic approach to the thing. Ralph sees that the beast is too big to be killed by Jack and his hunters, and he sees that as long as the beast resides on the mountain, they cannot maintain the signal fire. Jack is offended by Ralph’s lack of confidence in the hunters’ skills. Jack skulks off and calls a meeting by blowing the conch.

Ralph, frustrated by empty talk and rhetoric, allows Jack to lead the meeting. Jack publicly antagonizes Ralph at the assembly, compares him to Piggy, and calls him a coward. Jack demands a vote to elect a new chief. None of the boys, however, are willing to side with Jack—at least not in this manner. Jack is humiliated and vows to fend for himself from now on. He leaves the group and heads off into the forest alone.

Simon now speaks. He declares that they should climb the mountain and face the beast in the daylight. It is a rational and calmly articulated idea. After all, the boys saw it at night: In the daylight, things appear differently. There are objections, of course, and Simon is unable to defend his idea with anything better than, “What else is there to do?” With nothing more to say, Simon withdraws from the group.

The group is beginning to fracture: In the form of Jack, the impulsive and energizing spirit has departed; in the form of Simon, the rational and reflective spirit has withdrawn. Piggy now has more confidence to speak. He is practical and urges the boys to make a new fire down on the beach. It is not the ideal place for a fire because it will not be able to be seen from all distances, but it at least allows them to keep from confronting the beast. Piggy himself starts the fire once the wood is collected. With Jack gone, Piggy feels a new sense of...

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