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At the second assembly, a small boy with a mulberry birthmark talks about the beast in the jungle. After the group has built the first fire with the aid of Piggy's glasses, the boy is found to be missing and thought dead.
Returned from the exploration, Ralph calls an assembly to establish rules. "'Hands up' like at school," Ralph says. Only the person holding the conch may speak. Thus the conch represents the order they will try to maintain and respect.
Jack says that Ralph is right. "We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages. We're English, and the English are best at everything."
For now Ralph and Jack sit side by side on a log and try to convey the beauty of the island to the others. But the little ones (called little 'uns, and later littluns) grow frightened that they may not be rescued. Ralph says, "It's like in a book."
NOTE: THE NATURAL-GOODNESS-OF-MAN THEORY
All the boys have read adventure stories such as Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, and Swiss Family Robinson. One idea which these books share is that man is corrupted by living in civilization. If he could be put back into a more natural setting, such as a deserted island or a paradise, he would revert to his original state of goodness. The boys never question this concept of innocence in the books they've read. They believe it, and they want to be like the people they've read about. Lord of the Flies is an attempt to disprove this theory of the natural goodness of man.
Throughout the novel the author will let you know his thoughts about the state of man's heart. He will also try to convince you of what he believes. By the end of the story you may agree with him, but you don't have to. You're entitled to your own opinion about whether the forces of good are stronger or weaker than the forces of evil-or whether there are such forces at all. But you will need to be able to support your opinion with evidence from the novel. Notice the events as they are described. Do you believe they would really take place? Would you be more likely to follow Ralph, Piggy, Jack, or Simon? Or would you have an entirely different attitude?
The boys are convinced that they'll have a good time and be like heroes in a book-until a boy with "a mulberry-colored birthmark" on his face speaks. He wants to know what they're going to do about the snakelike beastie he's seen in the woods. At first the others laugh, but as the child persists, they become more and more uneasy. All of them know what it's like to have nightmares or be scared by the dark.
The little boy says it came in the dark, and "in the morning it turned into them things like ropes in the trees and hung in the branches."
The beastie, the snakelike thing, is an important symbol. What the boy with a birthmark says hints at the changing nature and beliefs about the beast. The boys' thinking about the beast will change throughout the story. Here they are talking about an actual creature, a snakelike thing that may be present on the island with them.
Ralph doesn't know how to handle the little boy's fear of the beast. He offers logical reasoning: "You only get them in big countries, like Africa, or India." Ralph can't convince them that the beast does not exist. And he doesn't have the intelligence to consider the existence of a beast in some abstract form. Frustrated, Ralph can only suggest that they build a fire to assure their rescue.
Jack appears to agree with Ralph, then adds, "But if there was a snake we'd hunt it and kill it." With that statement, Jack allows for the beast's possible existence, and this terrifies the boys. It is important to follow Jack's use of terror in the course of events.