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Lord of the Flies | Discussion Questions 21 - 30

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Why does Ralph feel dejected at the end of the meeting in Chapter 5 of Lord of the Flies?

Prior to the meeting, Ralph spends time by himself. He plans out what needs to be said and how it should be said. He is determined to set things straight. When the meeting ultimately breaks down and the boys run off to do as they please, Ralph is distraught. He feels like a failure, unable to keep the boys focused on a goal and a conversation. The burdens of leadership are weighing on Ralph, and he questions whether he is the right person for the job. In addition, Ralph fears the direction that the boys are going in, which is evident when he questions whether they would even listen to the conch. With the breakdown of civilization on the island, Ralph is despondent.

Why does talk of the beast cause the meeting to deteriorate in Chapter 5 of Lord of the Flies?

At the beginning of the meeting, Ralph talks about the rules and even makes up a new one. During this time, the meeting is going smoothly enough. Jack's talk that he has been all over the island and has never seen the beast seems to reassure the boys. However, once Percival brings up the possibility of the beast's coming from the sea, fear returns and the meeting goes haywire. The conch is no longer respected, and the boys bicker with each other. Fear overwhelms the innate decency the boys have. They want to be safe and protected but instead feel vulnerable due to the absence of adults on the island. Because no one can absolutely prove that there is no beast, the boys' imaginations and fears rise. That fear turns into childishness when they run off into the forest. It's better to play than to sit and feel fear. There are also hints of the overwhelming sadness that the boys must feel due to their isolation and loss of their families and former lives. When Percival states his name and address in the midst of this scene, the narrator says, "As if this information was rooted far down in the springs of sorrow," he wept. After the meeting breaks up, he wails. Percival is hardly the only one feeling this sadness. Some boys might adopt bravado or sincere efforts to try to improve their situation, but sadness underlies all of their lives.

What are the similarities and differences in how Piggy and Simon see the beast in Lord of the Flies?

Piggy and Simon come to the same conclusion about the beast—it is in people—but they reach this conclusion in different ways. Simon's vision of the beast involves a spiritual capacity. Each person is endowed with a capacity for evil. It is up to the individual to control that inner beast and instead act in a decent and humane manner. Piggy sees the situation as a matter of there being healthy (rational, scientific) people and malfunctioning (emotional, wild) people. While his assessment of Jack (he sees that Jack hates him and Ralph) is accurate and insightful, Piggy's view about people is simplistic. The boys' actions on the island show that the beast is in everyone.

What is the dramatic irony in the fact that Samneric identify the dead parachutist as the beast in Lord of the Flies?

Samneric's view of the parachutist as the beast is full of dramatic irony because, in identifying the parachutist, they thus incorrectly perceive the threat to them. Samneric are both incorrect and correct when they say they saw the beast. They're wrong in that the dead parachutist can do them no harm; his movements are an illusion and he, being dead, can't actually harm the boys. They're right insofar as they're afraid of a human who represents the civilization prosecuting the war raging in the real world. It is this same war that forced the boys to leave England, got their plane shot down, and caused an atom bomb to be dropped that killed many people. He also represents the civilization that produced the sadistic, hierarchical boarding school system and the rule of the strong over the weak. This is the civilization that socialized all the boys, and their actions on the island show they are just as capable of evil as that larger world. The final dramatic irony, then, is that the boys fear the beast but they need to fear themselves.

In Lord of the Flies, how does Jack's belief that the conch is no longer needed after the beast appears related to wars in history?

The conch symbolizes civilization and order and is used to establish who can speak. Jack's belief that the conch no longer matters after the beast appears has a basis in history. When at war, countries, including democracies, often suspend rights that could be exercised in ways that the government thinks could harm the war effort. During the war, everyone is focused on winning the war and leaders are given greater powers to act in a way they feel is best for the country. This suspension of rights can be temporary, with rights restored once the war has been won. Jack, similarly, rejects the conch as no longer relevant. He believes there should be an end to discussion and an end to the opportunity for everyone, even littluns, to have a say. He takes the authoritarian view that, in a crisis, decisions should come from the top and not be open to all.

What traits does Ralph show while searching for the beast that make him worthy of leadership in Lord of the Flies?

Ralph is heroic when he insists on going first to the unknown part of the island, even though he suspects the beast is there. Ralph does so because he sees it as his responsibility as chief. He is not looking for glory in taking this step; he is acting in the way that he believes his role requires him to act. In taking on the search, he shows not only a sense of responsibility that is quite mature for his age but also selflessness, because going first requires him to put his natural fears aside for the sake of the others.

What does Simon foreshadow in his talk with Ralph in Chapter 7 of Lord of the Flies?

Ralph is looking out at the ocean and becomes struck by idea that the island is completely desolate and they will never escape. He is losing hope. Simon senses these feelings of dejection and comforts Ralph. He says, "You'll get back to where you came from." Simon repeats a version of this multiple times and, through his words, speaks the reality of Ralph's return into action. It is noticeable that each time Simon says the words, he says you and not we. Thus, Simon not only foreshadows Ralph's rescue but also his own death. Unlike Ralph, he will not be returning home.

What does one learn about Ralph based on the pride he feels when he wounds the boar in Chapter 7 of Lord of the Flies?

Early in Chapter 7, Ralph yearns for civilization. This is seen by his desire to clean himself up and be home. However, shortly afterward the boys go on a hunt and Ralph wounds the boar. He makes sure everyone is aware of this and plays the game when Robert pretends to be the pig. This behavior reflects the savagery that has been attributed to Jack and his hunters up to this point in the book. The fact that Ralph can go from acting in a civilized manner to savagery so quickly is telling. The author's message seems to be that the line between the two is a thin one, and everyone—even those who seem the most tied to civilization—can be lured to that darker, more evil side.

Why does Jack go up the mountain in Chapter 7 of Lord of the Flies?

Jack goes up the mountain both out of a desire to best Ralph and out of supreme confidence in his own abilities. As they reach the mountain, Jack and Ralph are sparring with each other. It's as if they are playing a game of chicken. Ralph is ready to blink but Jack eggs him on. Ralph took the lead back at Castle Rock, but Jack will not let that happen again. He wants the other boys to see him as a leader. One way to achieve that is by showing up Ralph. Beside having the motivation of showing up Ralph, Jack is convinced of his own powers. He is a hunter and he can kill anything that gets in his way. Nothing will stop him.

Why is it significant that Jack blows the conch and asks for a vote in Chapter 8 of Lord of the Flies?

The conch shell has come to symbolize civilization, order, and democracy. What could be more symbolic of democracy than voting? This is what civilized people do. While Jack obeyed the rules and abided by the conch at the beginning of the book, he never truly took to it. By the point of this incident in Chapter 8, Jack is ready to give up completely on the society that Ralph has formed. By seizing the conch and blowing it, he seizes the authority that the conch represents. His request for a vote is an attempt to have the masses—the other boys—endorse and accept his usurpation of power. He is trying to legitimize his power. When that attempt fails, he puts the conch down, symbolizing his final rejections of civilization and democracy. As he runs off, Jack says, "I'm not going to play any longer. Not with you." He is now free of the rules that their society has set up.

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