Last time, we lost Simon, our token good guy who’s been Marked for Death since the beginning. He was torn to pieces by the other survivors. You ever see a bunch of six-year-olds descend on a fallen piñata at a birthday party? It was like that.
As of right now, things are looking bleak. Most of the survivors have gone off and joined Jack on his insatiable quest for blood. Only the little kids, plus Sam and Eric, have decided to remain with Ralph and Piggy. We’ve already established that Sam and Eric are just about the most useless human beings any of us will ever encounter, so this doesn’t seem like much of a win for Team Priorities.
Ralph is distraught by how dead Simon is. He’s trying to come to terms with their hand in his murder, but Piggy won’t hear of it. In fact, Piggy has decided to employ a strategy that my emotionally stunted self is very familiar with: denial.
PIGGY: See that cloud up there? It looks like you and me, happily frolicking with puppies. RALPH: Yeah, I just see us killing Simon. PIGGY: That’s so like you to dredge up the past. RALPH: It was literally six hours ago. PIGGY: Look, Ralph, you’ve gotta move past this. We didn’t have anything to do with that murder dance. Right, Sam? SAM: Dance? What dance? There wasn’t a dance. Certainly not a murder one. PIGGY: Exactly. SAM: Nothing happened. PIGGY: That’s incredibly true. And if something did happen, none of us saw it. SAM: Also true. PIGGY: I bet Simon died of exposure, or a bear attack. SAM: Probably.
Sam and Eric don’t seem too fussed about having been complicit in the concert mosh pit that was Simon’s easily preventable murder. Piggy pins the blame solely on Simon himself. This whole thing was just as much his fault as anybody else’s. What, they’re supposed to just not promptly murder whoever comes crawling out of the jungle unannounced? Right. Keep living in that technicolor dream world of yours, Ralph. This is real life.
Piggy, Sam, and Eric are handling this well, all things considered. They’re acting less like they manslaughtered a precious lamb and more like someone got too drunk at the office party the night before and they’re all standing around the water cooler not talking about it. But Ralph? Ralph is losing it. Ralph took a sharp left into “unprompted mid-conversation giggling” territory and he’s not turning back.
Understandably, Piggy finds this change in Ralph both uncharacteristic and horrifying. He tries to Real Talk it out. He says what happened with Simon was an accident; they were scared. But Ralph disagrees.
“I wasn’t scared,” said Ralph slowly. “I was—I don’t know what I was.”
Sounds like Ralph was tapping into those primeval urges. I know what that’s about. I’m weak and decrepit but when there’s only one donut left in the conference room, something takes hold.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, Team Murder is in full swing. Roger approaches the rock formation that’s currently serving as Jack’s stronghold. I don’t know what Roger was doing before this, but I think it’s a question worth asking.
A few of the boys from Jack’s tribe are manning the entrance, and they tell Roger to halt and identify himself. He does so. The boys readily admit that they could have crushed Roger with a booby-trapped boulder had he not complied with their requests, and Roger, rather than being furious that he was one arbitrary directive away from being pancaked into murder mush, is impressed. He says Jack is a “proper chief” now. He likes this set-up. He can really see himself here, slaughtering innocents.
But wait! Jack’s a few steps ahead of him. The boys welcome Roger with open arms and inform him that Jack tied up Wilfred and beat him for no reason other than for bloodlust and chuckles. Okay, hold on. Who the hell is Wilfred? This was so much easier when I was just calling everyone Harold. To me, 90% of these boys are still just amorphous gray blobs of unremarkable human.
It’s pretty clear that Jack is 100% in charge now, and that he’s ruling Team Murder with an iron fist. He has, by my count, many useful tools at his disposal:
A tribe of battle-hardened and world-weary ten-year-olds that will follow him blindly
An outside force (the Beast), which he’s using to unify and manipulate the masses
Many sharp sticks
He tells them that the Beast is still very much alive, but that they need to be careful going forward. Clearly it can disguise itself, as evidenced by what happened the night before. He offers no explanation as to how he’s been suddenly able to divine all this knowledge.
None of the boys seem to realize that they killed Simon. When Jack goes on to say that Ralph is now their enemy, no one challenges the claim; that’s a good way to get yourself walloped like so many Wilfreds. This is exactly like when the U.S. government said Captain America was public enemy #1 and everybody just sort of went with it.
Back at the lagoon, Team Priorities is struggling. Sam and Eric are losing hope, Ralph is having nightmares, and Piggy is foreshadowing his own death like an idiot. Look, I don’t care if your fearless leader is having doubts and you’re the glue that’s holding this whole thing together; you don’t mention the word “rescue,” ever, and especially not with an increasing urgency that parallels your mitigating circumstances. That’s a good way to get yourself chock full of harpoons. Remember Simon?
Right on schedule, Team Murder shows up. But they don’t kill Piggy, even though I was expecting them to. They don’t even go for the conch shell. Instead they steal Piggy’s glasses, our symbol for knowledge, so that they can start their own fires—which, as opening gambits go, is pretty damaging. Now Piggy is blind, Team Priorities is bereft, and Jack is “a chief now in truth.”
And that, I think, is the last nail in the coffin of civilization. I’d say Team Murder is about two chapters away from absorbing Team Priorities into their death coven whether Ralph likes it or not.
Did this chapter make anyone else feel really stressed out in a “staring into the abyss while the abyss stares also into you” kind of way?
Is Wilfred actually important? Is he playing the long game? Is he exactly where he wants to be?
No one else knew about Simon, but did ROGER know about Simon? Yes or yes?e!
Find the next chapter and every installment of Elodie’s Lord of the Flies blog HERE, and our Blogging the Classics index page HERE!