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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Lord of the Flies by William Golding-Free Summary
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He awakens with a start. "The age-long nightmares of falling and death were past and... the morning was come. Ralph's real death is about to begin.

Ralph hears the twins betray his hideout and prepares himself for battle. He realizes that he will kill or be killed if someone tries to enter the thicket in which he hides. Instead the savages heave a boulder at him, and he is thrust out by its impact. Then they set fire to his hiding place. He is chased through the jungle, stalked and hunted down like a pig.

His thinking ability has diminished, but Ralph is still thinking. He tries to decide between climbing a tree, where he may or may not be spotted, and rushing their lines like the boar did. It's a terrible choice. "Thee tree, or the charge?" he asks himself, attempting to decide like a human being. "Think," he tells himself again and again, trying to resist "the curtain that might waver in his brain, blacking out the sense of danger, making a simpleton of him."

He decides to hide and wonders "if a pig would agree." Ralph grimaces, but he's now a hunted creature himself. The burning jungle which surrounds him begins to merge with the chaos in his mind.

"Now the fire was nearer; those volleying shots were great limbs, trunks even, bursting." Ralph is in the hell that Piggy saw coming because they were not acting civilized. In his hiding place, Ralph realizes that the stick he's been carrying is "sharpened at both ends," and he understands what will happen to his head when Jack captures him. The savages are only a little distance from him. Ralph tells himself, "Don't scream. Get ready."

A savage looks into Ralph's hiding place and sees "a blob of dark." (Remember that the conch was called a blob and Piggy was considered a blob.) Ralph, linked now to what has been destroyed, tries to remain calm. "Don't scream. You'll get back. Now he's seen you. He's making sure. A stick sharpened." The short words, the brief sentences make our breath quicken, and we feel Ralph's anxiety.

He thinks only on a primitive level now; he's no longer capable of more than basic notions. "You'll get back," a reference to Simon's prophesy, is the only hopeful note in the chapter.


Then Ralph screams, and the scream is a trapped animal's death wail. "He shot forward... screaming, snarling, bloody." He runs through the burning jungle, a hell of the boys' own making. "He forgot his wounds, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet." He has been reduced to a mindless animal whose muscles have taken over. The last shreds of Ralph's humanity are gone as he crashes through the jungle and tumbles onto the beach, "trying to cry for mercy."

The ending of the story takes us by surprise-in fact, we slam into it like a speeding train hitting a brick wall. There on the beach stands a naval officer in a white uniform. We stop with Ralph to catch our breath.

Golding turns us around and shows us the boys as the officer must see them, "little boys, their bodies streaked with colored clay, sharp sticks in their hands." The abrupt shift in perspective reminds us that these little boys have seduced themselves into a deadly game.

"Fun and games," the officer observes. "Having a war or something?" But it's not a game; what they've been doing is serious. Ralph understands this, and Golding has been trying to convince us of it by allowing us to be so close to Ralph.

"We'll take you off," the officer says. "Who's boss here?"

Ralph can answer "I am" now that civilization has returned. Jack is described as "a little boy who wore the remains of an extraordinary black cap on his red hair and who carried the remains of a pair of spectacles at his waist." He begins to protest, then changes his mind. It would seem that Jack's rule is over.

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