The Lord Of The Flies Chapter 5 Review Essay
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In chapter 5 Ralph says, “Things are breaking up.” (Page 102). Having read the whole novel, comment on whether you think that things will continue to break up on the island. Explain your answer in detail, using quotes where appropriate.
The plane crash that starts Golding’s novel is hardly a good omen, and things continue to deteriorate throughout the story. Ralph’s realisation in chapter five that “Things are breaking up,” (pg 102) is a perfect summary of what has started to happen, but at this point he has no idea of how bad things will get.
The first time we meet Jack; he is portrayed as being in “almost complete darkness” (pg 27). This suggests there is a side to his personality that is far from pure, while the first time we are introduced to Piggy and Ralph, they strip off and go swimming. This suggests innocence and light, a far cry from Jack and the choirboys’ looming darkness.
The first indication we receive that things are breaking up is in chapter two, at the assembly.
Ralph is talking about how there will need to be rules and order, when Jack interrupts with “All the same you need an army.” (Pg 43) After this, it is decided that the choir will be this army- the clear beginning of the degradation of Jack and the choirboys from angels to torturing hunters. Another key event that happens in this meeting is the conch being chosen to signify a person’s right to talk. This is the only rule that exists at the moment, and it is already broken before the end of the meeting, when all the boys follow Jack off to make a fire: “Jack clamoured among them, the conch forgotten.” (Pg 49)
It becomes very clear that all is not well on the island when a littlun tells the assembly of a ‘beastie’ that lives on the island. Ralph desperately tries to reassure the children: “But there isn’t a beastie!” (Pg 47), while Jack unsettles them by talk of hunting and death: “If there was a snake we’d hunt and kill it.” When Golding points out that Ralph “Felt himself facing something ungraspable,” (pg 48) he is subtlely stating that the so-called “beastie” is not some terrible creature, but evil beginning to surface in the boys. This emergence of evil marks the beginning of the island, the boys and their microcosm ‘breaking up.’
When building the fire, Jack and Piggy argue about whether Piggy helped at all. When Piggy points out that he has the conch, Jack snaps with “The conch doesn’t count on top of the mountain.” Here Jack is finding ways to detach himself from the rule and order of the conch, and succeeding. The first death in the book is when the boy with the mulberry birthmark disappears and is killed in the forest fire. This is due to the hunters’ lack of responsibility and letting the fire get out of control.
In chapter three, it becomes apparent that the boys are undergoing a change – for the worse. They have now reverted to the rhythm of nature, rather than civilised time, and they become much more savage in that they are now able to kill. The group is not working together, and so their society is breaking off into smaller groups. On page 64, Ralph complains to Jack that no one is helping he and Simon build the shelters: “…they (the littluns) keep running off.” The hunters were also away from the main group, on another unsuccessful hunt. Jack then loses his temper, and his evil is clearly referenced. In this chapter, a definite rift has begun to appear between Ralph and Jack, an event pointed out on page 70: “…the shouting and splashing and laughing was only just sufficient to bring them together again.”
The only character who does not seem to be breaking up is Simon. He is the silent, solid listener of the boys’ island society. His truthfulness and clarity of thinking, as well as his peaceful behaviour, sets Simon apart from the group of savages. They think he is “weird” which makes him an outcast from the group. At the end of chapter three he wanders off to be solitary and peaceful. Here, he begins be aware of the decline that is occurring, with increasing velocity, in the social structure and peaceful beauty of the island. He is one of the few, perhaps the only person in the group, with the capability to understand the danger in such degeneration. Simon’s realisation that all is not what it seems happens on page 66: “As if this wasn’t a good island.”
The very title of chapter four, ‘painted faces and long hair’ suggests the breaking up of the island society as the boys regress to savagery. There is a pause however, a reminder that the boys’ old morals have not gone completely when Roger is unable to throw a rock directly at Henry. “The taboos of old life” (Pg 78) prevented him from doing so. Also in chapter four, Ralph spots smoke on the horizon whilst bathing.
However, the hunters had let the fire go out and no smoke was spotted: “The fire was smokeless and dead, the watchers were gone” (Pg 85). When the hunters return, they have killed a pig and are too excited about this act of savagery to worry about the most important thing (in theory) on the island. This event marks a change in the group, Ralph especially: “they let the bloody fire out.” This is the first time we see Ralph lose his temper.
The pig is then roasted, and a ritualistic dance takes place. The hunters chant, “kill the pig, cut her throat, bash her in.” This is a primitive and savage thing to do.
Chapter five really reinforces the changes the island, social structure and indeed the boys are going through. Ralph says, in an assembly, how they do not gather water anymore, or use their designated bathrooms. This debate eventually turns to rules. Jack points out that if Ralph cannot hunt or song (in other words act as a savage), then does he have the right to be chief? More arguing ensues, and “The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away.” (Pg 113). The meeting is in absolute disorder, and now it is obvious that Ralph’s statement that things are breaking up was absolutely true.
Because there is now nothing to stop the group of boys (or savages) from fragmenting and degenerating, things will now continue to break up until the end of the novel.
Chapter six starts in darkness. This is the point where the dead parachutist makes his entry into the story. The parachutist’s introduction shows that not all contact with the outside world is lost, but the only sign is a dead, rotting man killed in war: “But a sign came down from the world of grown-ups, though at the time there was no child awake to read it.” (Pg 118) This is an answer to Ralph’s desperate cry at the end of chapter five, although not at all what he had wanted, or expected. While Sam and Eric are tending to the fire, they see the eerie silhouette of the parachutist flapping about in the breeze and immediately perceive it as a physical form of the beast. They run back to Ralph and Piggy, and tell of the events that have just taken place at an early morning assembly:
“Ralph pointed fearfully at Eric’s face, which was striped with scars where the bushes had torn him
“How did you do that?”
Eric felt his face.”
The other boys automatically think that the beast had attacked them, but this time there is no one comforting the littluns and saying that there is no beast. At this, Jack proposes to hunt the beast and his true feelings come through: “Sucks to the littluns!” “…We don’t need the conch anymore.” (Page 125) Here, Jack has abandoned any trace of order that there once was, and is only interested in hunting.
Jack leads the boys to castle rock, the only place that nobody had explored. “Ralph walked in the rear, thankful to have escaped responsibility…” (Pg 128). This shows that leadership is taking its toll on Ralph, and that he is now perhaps not as good a leader as he was at the beginning. Jack and the hunters, once at castle rock, get very excited about the place and say it would be good for a fort. Ralph then ‘spoils their fun’ and Jack leads the group back to the shelter.
During chapter seven, Ralph joins the hunt. He becomes very involved, both in the actual hunt and the ritual dance that follows. He succumbs to the urge to hurt, in just the same way as the savage hunters. “Ralph too was fighting to get near… The desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering.” (Pg 142) They become so absorbed into the dance that they do not notice that they are hurting Robert. After this dance, Golding describes the deteriorating landscape of the island, mirroring the boys’ degeneration. Ralph, Jack and Roger then go up the mountain to look for the beast.
In chapter eight, ‘Gift for the darkness,’ a number of objects have now become taboo, for instance the beast and, in the case of Piggy, Jack. The boys express their fear for things by not naming them. Without realising it, they are actually increasing their fear by not facing up to it. Jack becomes much more violent, and his possessiveness and longing for leadership is at its strongest: “Hands up,” said Jack strongly, “whoever wants Ralph not to be chief.” (Pg 157)
Jack then goes off and decides to make a camp of his own, but he calls it a tribe (which is showing obvious savagery). The savages who had once belonged to the choir went with him, an eerie parody of the once angelic group. Jack’s tribe go on a hunt, and catch a pig. After this death, they joyfully cover themselves in the pig’s blood. The act of killing marks a milestone in that the boys have reached a very primitive level of living.
Later, Jack and his gang raid Ralph’s encampment. They steal a burning log for their own fire and Jack invites all the boys to come join his tribe at the feast they are to have that night. As the “savages” leave, Ralph comments about how he wishes he could have fun too, but still the fire is more important to him. Back at the clearing Simon is having a “discussion” with the pig’s head that the hunters had put on a stick. This discussion is probably mostly in Simon’s head, but Golding uses this interview as an eerie way to unveil the theme of the novel. Golding now refers to the fly-covered pig’s head as the “Lord of the Flies.” The Lord of the Flies asks Simon if he’s afraid of him. It says:
“…I am the Beast… Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you!” (Pg 177)
The Beast then warns Simon not to tell anyone the truth, otherwise he will be killed. He decides not to heed this advice, and at the end of chapter nine Simon comes running out of the jungle. He shouts and screams that the beast is only a dead man, but the savages do not listen. Simon is murdered in the ritual dance, the very final step to savagery. The tribe, after this, find no problem in stealing Piggy’s glasses.
By this time, the conch has gone from pink to white. It has faded, and so has its power and rule over the group. When it is smashed in chapter 11, this marks the end of all rules and morals the boys might still have traces of. Piggy is killed in chapter 11, when roger pushes him off the cliff with a boulder.
The boys are eventually rescued in the middle of savagely smoking Ralph out of the forest. If they had not broken up so much as to set the forest on fire, they would never have been rescued so it might be said that it is a good thing that the boys degenerated so much as to set a forest alight. However, the naval officer who rescues them takes them off to his ship, which is probably engaged in war itself. So when the boys leave the island, they have escaped the evil of the tribe, but not of man itself.