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Lord of the Flies | Study Guide

William Golding

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Chapter 10

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 10 of William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies.

Lord of the Flies | Chapter 10 : The Shell and the Glasses | Summary



The next morning, Piggy and Ralph are on the beach and realize they, along with Samneric and the littluns, are the only ones left. Ralph brings up Simon, but Piggy refuses to discuss what happened and chalks it up to fear. When Samneric come back with firewood, they say they became lost the previous night. Piggy says he and Ralph came back early because they were tired.

Jack and his tribe are at the Castle Rock. A boy has been tied up; Jack is going to beat him for no apparent reason. Jack tells his tribe that they will go hunting the next day, but some will need to stay back to fix up and defend their shelter, a cave. They believe that the beast is not dead and can come back. When they realize they will need fire, Jack plans to go and get fire from the others. Maurice and Roger volunteer to come with him.

Piggy and the others wish for ways to get off the island. While collecting firewood, Samneric start wondering whether doing so has a point. Ralph encourages them to continue. Before he falls asleep, Ralph again wishes for ways to get off the island. Piggy warns Ralph that if they do not leave soon, they are all going to go crazy.

Ralph and Piggy hear something and fear it is the beast. Suddenly, they are fighting with Jack and the others. After the others leave, Ralph checks on everyone. Ralph and Samneric talk about the fight and feel pride that they got in some blows and held their own. Piggy says he thought they wanted the conch, but they came for something else. He plaintively asks, "What am I going to do?" Meanwhile, Jack and the others are headed back to Castle Rock with Piggy's glasses.


With Ralph's declaration "I'm frightened. Of us," he acknowledges his role in the killing of Simon. This is not the first time that Ralph has answered to the darkness within himself. Ralph, who has been the embodiment and symbol of civilization, has a savage side as well. Unlike the other boys, Ralph acknowledges his role and what the boys have done. He is the only boy who speaks of the guilt he feels. This intensifies his desire to go home and escape this side of himself.

Piggy was also there when Simon was killed. However, unlike Ralph, he does not want to talk about the act. He insists that they were ruled by fear and not by a dark side of human nature. Therefore, Piggy does not see any need to feel guilt or to analyze this situation. The boy who insists on being rational has rationalized the killing of Simon and his role in it. Piggy will not accept any role in the deed. While one suspects this is out of guilt, the true cause is not clear. Like the others, Piggy also has a savage side. The thieving of his glasses later in the chapter—his loss of the physical ability to see—underscores his loss of clear vision in this early part of the chapter. The character whose rationality had once been valuable has succumbed to delusionary thinking.

Ralph, Piggy, and Samneric are unable to acknowledge a role in the killing when they gather together. Everyone comes up with an excuse and claims to not have been present. No one questions the other for fear of having to explain his own story. Lying to one's self is generally something that adults do, while children tend to be honest. The boys have adopted this unflattering trait as a way of escaping an uncomfortable position.

As Ralph and Piggy talk, Ralph faces the chief's seat and the conch, lying on the ground. In other words, he is not in the position of leadership but looking at it, separated from it. The image reflects his position of lost leadership. Later Piggy tells him to blow the conch, and Ralph laughs. Can one be a chief without any followers? Ralph has lost all his power over the group and is now struggling simply to retain control over himself. The conch is useless; only one person's opinion or voice matters at this point, and that is Jack. He is in complete control. The boys refer to him as chief and ask questions, expecting him to know all answers. Then they do as he says.

Jack continues to refer to the beast. He insists it is still there and wonders how they can kill it. While Jack continues to think of the beast as a physical being, the truth that it is human nature—found inside all people—has been made clear. Because that is the case, the beast is, in fact, impossible to kill. With the beast still around, the boys need Jack and his hunters. He will not be afraid and can therefore protect them.

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