Lord of the Flies | Study Guide

William Golding

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Chapter 8

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 8 of William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies.

Lord of the Flies | Chapter 8 : Gift for the Darkness | Summary



Ralph tells Piggy what they saw, which he identifies as the beast, but Piggy can hardly believe it. Jack says the hunters can handle the beast, but Ralph dismisses them as nothing but boys armed with sticks.

Jack calls a meeting and tells all the boys that Ralph has insulted the hunters and is not fit to be chief. He calls for a vote on chief and asks for their support. When the boys do not vote for him, he is hurt. Jacks runs off, declaring he will no longer "play" with them and inviting others to follow him. Ralph tries to stop Jack but cannot.

After Jack leaves, Piggy says they can get along without him, while Ralph says he will be back. Simon suggests that they climb the mountain but offers no better reason than "what else is there to do?" No one takes him seriously. Piggy says they should light the fire on the beach, and everyone agrees.

After they get the fire going, Piggy and Ralph talk, noting that most of the big kids have followed Jack. This fact depresses Ralph, and Piggy and Samneric make a feast to try to cheer him up.

Jack addresses his group. He says they will hunt and that they will not bother about the beast. He says that when they kill a pig, they will leave some for the beast in hope that it then won't bother them. Jack and Roger lead a successful hunt. The boys laugh at the blood on Jack's hands from killing the pig.

Jack says they will have a feast and he will invite Ralph and his boys. When Roger asks how they can make a fire, Jack says they will raid the other boys' camp "and take fire." Before they leave, at Jack's suggestion the boys leave the pig's head as an offering for the beast.

Ralph and Piggy talk. Ralph admits he is scared and doesn't understand why the others don't want fire. He turns to Piggy for answers. During this time, the others come and take some burning sticks from the fire of Ralph's group. Jack invites all those with Ralph to join his tribe in a feast on the beach. They have a meeting and decide to go to the feast.

The chapter ends with Simon, who had wandered off on his own, coming across the offering. He imagines the head talking to him. The head is referred to as the Lord of the Flies. Simon has a conversation with the Lord of the Flies and faints.


Ralph's conversation with Piggy shows he is bewildered by what is happening: "Piggy, what's wrong?" he plaintively asks. He cannot understand why the others are not willing to tend the fire, build shelters, and do the other business that he believes to be essential to their rescue. He cannot understand the appeal of Jack's confident aggressiveness.

Jack's reaction to the vote reminds the reader that he, too, is a child. He cries when he doesn't get his way and runs off and claims he is not going to play any longer. It's as if the whole experience remains a game for him. They are still exploring the island and waiting to be fetched by the adults. If he doesn't get a chance to be chief, then he will play the game the way he wants to play. Because he cannot gain the role of chief by the proper means, Jack feels liberated to act however he wants. The evil within is unleashed. When others sneak off and join him, Jack paints his face and tells them they will hunt and have fun. There is no mention of a signal fire or a rescue. He no longer considers civilization as having any importance and has gone completely savage. This confirms what Jack said earlier: "The beast is a hunter." While Jack was referring to the beast, it is true of him.

Simon perceives the truth in his imagined conversation with the Lord of the Flies. It tells him, "I'm part of you," making explicit Golding's belief that savagery is the natural state of humans. There is dramatic irony, where readers understand something that the characters do not, in it being Simon who comes to this insight that the evil is within the boys because he is the one boy who is naturally selfless. He is consistently good and helpful to everyone around him. Simon helps with the shelters, picks fruit for the littluns, and comforts Piggy by telling him of everyone's whereabouts. Later, he will even help the dead when he unties the parachutist. Yet Simon's understanding of the Lord of the Flies leads him to contemplate that he has evil within himself. The mere thought causes him to faint.

"Lord of the Flies" is a translation of Beelzebub, a name used for Satan. Simon's encounter with this Satan figure leads some critics to see him as a Christ figure. The association of him with Christ appears again in the following chapter.

Jack and his hunters track a sow, and he ultimately kills it. He does so while it nurses its piglets in a state of "maternal bliss." The hunters are blind to this "bliss" and viciously destroy it, with the crude addition to the chant that they impale the sow "right up her ass!" Again, male aggressiveness annihilates the female nurturing instinct.

In a bit of dramatic irony, in which author and reader are aware of implications that the characters do not recognize, the killing of the sow plants the seeds of the destruction of the order Jack hopes to impose on the island. Killing the nursing mother sow endangers the lives of the piglets and reduces the potential for more piglets being born. Jack and his hunters are ensuring the failure of the hunting-based life they desire by destroying the potential for an ongoing population of prey.

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