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

Simon sees the beast that the boys fear. Ralph and Piggy eat pig meat, then join the circle to dance. Simon, mistaken for the beast, is murdered and his body carried away by the ocean waves.

Nature is deadly calm, waiting for the storm to arrive. Only "the flies who blackened their lord and made the split guts look like a heap of glistening coal" are moving. The description of nature is vile: "When the creepers shook the flies exploded from the guts with a vicious note and clamped back on again."

Simon awakens from his trance knowing he must tell the others that evil lurks within each of them. Like the prophet who has had his vision, he must return with the truth. Simon staggers from exhaustion and the weight of the message he carries.

Recall how the times of day have been described to correspond with phases in the aging process. Simon, now "like an old man," is free from confusion about life; his vision has freed him but left him old, as at the end of the day. And evening is drawing near.

When Simon sees the dead parachutist covered with flies, he understands that the beast they feared is nothing but a rotting body. The sight sickens him, but Simon frees the corpse from the tangle of strings that had manipulated it.

On the beach Piggy and Ralph are talking The others have gone to join the feast-"Just for some meat," Piggy says, but Ralph adds that they've gone to hunt and put on war-paint too. Ralph knows they seek the protection and power they feel in hunting as a tribe.

When Ralph and Piggy join the party, they find Jack enthroned. "Jack, painted and garlanded, sat there like an idol. There were piles of meat on green leaves near him, and fruit, and coconut shells full of drink." As chief, he offers them "the gift" of meat. There is subtle irony here, for the gift is more like a poison; those who eat will be contaminated and will participate in killing. Simon, the only boy who hasn't eaten, will be killed.


Jack rules very differently than Ralph did. Where Ralph tried to hold assemblies in which each could speak and all were respected, Jack rules by fear and force, shouting commands that always contain a threat. "Power lay in the brown swell of his forearms: authority sat on his shoulder and chattered in his ear like an ape." Jack's power resides in his ability to bully others, and this power has gone to his head. The struggle to be leader surfaces again between Jack and Ralph. "Who'll join my tribe and have fun?" Jack shouts. The thunder overhead frightens the littluns. "Where are your shelters?" Ralph asks, making the hunters stop and think.

Ralph comes close to convincing them to follow him, as they have done so many times. But Jack is more conniving now, and when he realizes he is about to lose to Ralph, he acts. "Do our dance! Come on! Dance!" he yells and leads the boys into their ritual as lightning begins to flash.

Nature has gone mad and Piggy and Ralph, now poisoned, join the circle. They "found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society. They were glad to touch the brown backs of the fence that hemmed in the terror and made it governable." The two boys fear the isolation of staying outside the circle, of being alone with the elements. By joining the savage circle and letting go of his individuality, neither will have to think about the beast in nature.

"Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!" The chant has turned from pig to beast, an indication of the power they place in the ritual. The chant carries them into a mindless frenzy. They cease to be scared little boys afraid of the dark and become a mob without conscience, gaining power and security through chant and ritual. As if nature were rousing them to an even more heightened frenzy, the sky is cut by lightning and "the noise was on them like the blow of a gigantic whip." Nature, like a devil or a beast, cracks it over the boys.

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