Write about the significance of the conflict between the boys here and how Golding uses this conflict in the novel as a whole
In this passage from Chapter 4 we as readers are shown the significance of the conflict between the boys as major themes collide with each other. Golding continues to use this conflict in the novel when demonstrating the roles of the boys and their personalities when interacting with each other.
Firstly Piggy is shown attempting to stand up for the better of their society pleading the case of the fire and it’s importance, but then is portrayed in his usual role as a victim because when Jack hits him, animal imagery of a pig is used to emphasis his venerability within the group:
“Piggy sat down with a grunt”
Piggy’s glasses also get broken, this is a key event as his glasses are particularly symbolic as they symbolise clarity of vision for Piggy as, from the beginning of the novel Piggy has always been realistic saying that they may never get rescued etc. But it is interesting how Jack breaks his glasses indicating maybe how Piggy’s “clear vision” has been broken and by Jack, who Piggy now becomes fixated with through hatred.
Jack in the beginning of the novel is shown as a dictator, wanting rules as he has a strong desire to lead, but his wanting to lead a controlled society soon changes when he is shown rejecting society:
“Bollocks to the rules!”
But Jack’s desire to lead is still strong so he leads the hunters which soon deteriate into a lust for killing. At first when Jack is faced with a pig, he can’t bring himself to kill it showing he was still in touch with society, yet in this passage it is obvious to the reader that Jack is becoming more savage bringing to light the theme of savagery, and at home with the killing when he wipes the blood through his hair.
“Jack transferred the knife to his left hand and smudged blood over his forehead as he pushed down his plastered hair.”
Again Jack is shown in this extract holding his knife, which is a symbol of violence and authority, which is yet another theme, about which boys make the better leader and a case of democracy versus dictatorship/savagery. Jack’s knife is used from early in the novel to gain attention and suggest something bad is going to happen.
When Jack is confronted by Piggy he is confused why someone of his status is questioning his own ways, which is why he lashes out at Piggy and at the same time takes him further away from society showing how without the restrictions of adults or society certain people slip back to primitive actions.
“He took a step, and able at last to hit someone, stuck his fist into Piggy’s stomach.”
Although Ralph isn’t mentioned a lot in this passage his actions and presence are very noticeable. Especially at the beginning of the passage:
“There was a brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill; and there was the world of longing and baffled common sense.”
This extract shows a major theme in the book- Jack versus Ralph/ Democracy versus Dictatorship/ Rescue versus hunting. Golding gives the readers an insight of each boys ideas of survival- Jack’s, to hunt and basically survive, and Ralph’s, to be rescued and live in a morally correct society.
At the start of the novel Ralph wasn’t viewed as the ideal leader as he wasn’t overly intelligent or mature, but through the latest chapters Ralph is starting to grow up and control his emotions without standing on his head. This change is especially noticeable in this chapter when he calls a meeting at night, its almost like he’s had an epiphany finally seeing things for what they are- that Jack is competition, and is trying to gain control of society which much threaten Ralph. He’s more mature and tactful planning the assembly, what to say etc:
“thought was a valuable thing, that got results…”
Ralph later in this passage makes a symbolic action when he stands up to Jack when he starts to hit Piggy showing that he isn’t to be challenged with and that the relationship between himself and Piggy is no longer one sided that Ralph realises he genuinely likes or need Piggy-whatever the cost. This proves how Ralph has grown as a person on the island even though Jack still hits Piggy Ralph’s presence is recognised and acknowledged:
” “You would, would you? Fatty!”
Ralph made a step forward and Jack smacked Piggy’s head.”
On the island Simon represents the mystic, he is the Christ-like figure who has compassion for everyone and sees the true beast, mankind’s essential illness:
“Man’s inhumanity to man”
This is why Simon found it hard to speak in the assembly later in Chapter 4, as he’s scared of the boys as a group and what the power they posses.
As Simon recognises it’s the boys who created the beast, an evil outside of themselves, so that they can maintain an image of themselves as good. Simon often faints/ hallucinates or even enters trances as a way of trying to seek the truth. E.g. at the start of the novel when Jack is trying to find out where the adults are:
“Then one of the boys flopped on his face in the sand…”
“He’s always throwing a faint.”
Even though Simon is shown as pure & Christ-like Golding reminds us that he is human and not everyone is perfect:
“Simon, sitting between the twins and Piggy, wiped his mouth and shoved his piece of meat over the rocks to Piggy, who grabbed it. The twins giggled and Simon lowered his face in shame.”
This extract shows that Simon still has the flaws of human nature, and realises that his move could have cost him his respect within the community.
Simon tends to use actions throughout the novel rather than words e.g. getting fruit that the little ‘uns couldn’t to feed them, walking into the forest at night yet seeming peaceful proving that darkness doesn’t necessarily mean evil. And again at the end of this passage when Piggy’s glasses had been knocked off by Jack:
“He went crouching and feeling over the rocks but Simon, who got there first, found them for him. Passions beat about Simon on the mountain-top with awful wings.”
This shows Simon helping Piggy in his time of need, when he’s blind helping him to see again. Also in the second sentence I think Simon is in a way having a premonition, seeing into Piggy’s future how he’s going to die, as when Piggy dies its within a struggle when passions are high, on a mountain-top in a way as Piggy falls into the rocks below.
Personally I feel that this passage really sums up the way the characters are developing and how this is going to affect the novel as a whole. With Jack turning to savagery without the presence of adults and society, Piggy being shown as a victim and weak, Ralph becoming increasingly individual, mature basically gaining leadership qualities standing up for his beliefs no matter who’s questioning i.e. Jack. Finally Simon recognising man’s inhumanity to man and Piggy’s doomed ending.