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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Lord of the Flies by William Golding-Free Summary
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Invisible things also influence how people act and think. We watch Roger throwing stones at a littlun called Henry. He doesn't hit Henry; "there was a space round Henry... into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law." Something invisible, like a concept, the concept of civilization, has the power to control human thought and actions. We can think of civilization as an invisible mirage. It does really exist, and it has power over us if we hold the concept in our head. When we do, it influences our behavior and thought, as it keeps Roger from hitting Henry. When we stop believing in the concept of civilized ways, the concept ceases to have power over us.

For Roger and the other boys, civilization is a mirage that is slipping away. Their hair is growing long and wild, their nails are becoming claws, and they are "filthy dirty." They are also beginning to do things that would not be acceptable at home.

Jack calls Roger into the jungle to paint their faces with clay and charcoal. Their masks will camouflage them; they will be a part of the jungle when hunting pig. With his own face painted, Jack "looked in astonishment, no longer at himself but at an awesome stranger." He is ceasing to be himself, and the mask is becoming "a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness." Jack dances and his laughter becomes "a bloodthirsty snarling." Jack is losing his human identity and his self-awareness. He can even act like an animal in front of the others; he no longer cares what they think. And the others feel "compelled" to follow the creature with the masked face. Jack goes off with his hunters to track pig.


In the second scene, Ralph spots a passing ship on the horizon. "Balanced on a high peak of need, agonized by indecision, Ralph cried out: 'Oh God, oh God!'" Till now Ralph has childishly believed-needed to believe-that they would be rescued, that someone would come along and save them. This vague notion has allowed him to play away his time as though he were just one of the little boys. Jack and the hunters have betrayed Ralph by abandoning what is most important to him, the fire. Ralph realizes he will have to take action.

From around the "unfriendly side of the mountain," where the beast supposedly lives, come the chanting choirboys led by Jack. The twins, who are part of the procession, are described as "errant"- a word that foreshadows the twins' eventual betrayal of Ralph. And what Simon sees, looking from Ralph to Jack, "seemed to make him afraid." The final, irreversible split has taken place between Jack and Ralph. Simon understands that the two can no longer be friends. This is the first in a series of mounting crises between Jack and Ralph.

Jack is triumphant as he leads his frenzied mob back with a slaughtered pig. He cannot contain his joy at the power he felt "when they closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink." Jack and the boys have found a way of not feeling their fears; killing another living creature helps them to forget the beast in the jungle.

Enraged by betrayal and dashed hope, Ralph thrusts himself into the role of leader. "There was a ship," he says, making it clear that hunting is less important to the chief than fire. When the hunters begin to understand "the dismal truth" about going home, their sentiments betray Jack's sense of the importance of the kill.

"The two boys faced each other. There was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill; and there was the world of longing and baffled common-sense." For Ralph and Jack this is the beginning of all-out war. The battle will be between the thrill of power and force and the difficult and disillusioning struggle to maintain hope and good sense. Ralph and Jack will struggle without either of them fully understanding the forces at work in him.

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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Lord of the Flies by William Golding-Free Summary
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