Last time, a man-corpse landed on the island. This was due to an aerial battle that Sam and Eric missed completely because they were too busy being sound asleep and useless. Now Ralph & Co. have gone to find the “beast” Samneric thought they glimpsed, only it’s less a beast and more of a dead guy in a parachute. Presumably, hilarious shenanigans will ensue.
The chapter opens with our heroes taking a break from their epic quest because Ralph “[passes] a message forward to Jack” and tells him it’s time to eat. Do they have paper? Pens? Did he whisper some sweet nothings on the wind?
Ralph wonders if his shirt is getting gross, and whether it’s time to “undertake the adventure of washing it.” I feel this. Doing laundry is an adventure and a half for me. So many buttons and settings, and who knows what any of them do?
He and Simon share a bonding moment. Simon makes it weird.
SIMON: You’re going to be okay, Ralph. You’re going to get home just fine. RALPH: Thanks, Simon. SIMON: You’re welcome. As for the rest of us, well, who’s to say? RALPH: What? SIMON: Just, you know, life is fleeting. Death surrounds us. Suffering is inevitable. RALPH: Are you going to die soon or something? Is that what’s happening? SIMON: Come on, Ralph, be serious. Without me—the moral compass, the token good guy, the cinnamon roll—this whole thing would collapse, and then where would we be? At each other’s throats with shivs made out of bamboo, naked and muddy and shrieking obscenities, that’s where. I mean what are the odds of any of that happening? RALPH: Fair play.
I’ll reiterate that I’ve never read this before. I’m late to the Lord of the Flies party. But as someone who’s read other books (or at least two), I’m picking up what William Golding is laying down. Is Simon not long for this world? Don’t tell me. I want to be sort of surprised.
Roger alerts the group to the presence of fresh pig droppings, indicating the presence of a pig close by. Jack crouches to look at the poop “as though he loved it,” which sounds normal enough. He says he’s in the mood for pork, even if they’re also hunting “the other thing.” I guess that’s as comprehensive a description as anything else for what everyone, at this juncture, believes to be a phantom squid that feasts on the blood of the innocent and then returns to the sea.
Ralph agrees with Jack’s assessment of their current situation (ergo: the time is ripe for pig death) and he begins thinking longingly of home. I don’t know if now’s the time to be daydreaming, but then I’ve never harpoon-stalked a pig on an island with danger on all sides, so what do I know?
The pig bursts forth from the shrubbery, and all hell breaks loose. Jack is mowed down almost immediately. Ralph stabs the pig, and although it manages to escape, he is awash in the thrill of bloodlust. Suddenly, he is seized by a desire to hurt something. Now he knows what it must feel like to be Jack, the Beachside Strangler.
Ralph and Jack vie for the attentions of the other boys, Ralph with his wholly ineffective spear-throwing and Jack with his barely bleeding arm. Some random bystander named Robert makes light of the proceedings by pretending to be a boar, snarling and pawing at the ground. Within seconds, the rest of the boys have swarmed and are poised to devour him. At first it’s all fun and games, and then things take a turn for the real. Look, I played some pretty messed-up games as a kid. They included:
Lightning Storm Freeze Tag
Marshmallow Gun Roulette
That one game where we just hit each other with sticks
But if memory serves, we never started chanting “Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!” while one of the other kids struggled against the frenzy of ritual sacrifice. I guess this proves that we’re all just one plane crash away from falling back on the primeval savagery of yore; the narrator says “the desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering.” They could have murdered Robert right then and there. I can’t believe they almost killed a character as integral to the plot as Robert!
Everyone has a good laugh about this. Jack continues to be at the helm of the murder ship, but nobody is really taking him seriously.
MAURICE: It’s fun to hunt things. JACK: I just had an idea. We should hunt the kids. RALPH: Jack, you jokester. You wit. That’s just classic Jack.
Having overlooked this red flag, Ralph says they should send word to Piggy, to tell him they’ll be back after dark. Jack says, “WE MUSTN’T LET ANYTHING HAPPEN TO PIGGY, MUST WE?” in an ominous tone that suggests something is definitely going to happen to Piggy. Can someone do something about Jack, please? I didn’t start calling him the Beachside Strangler for nothing.
Simon volunteers, because of course he does. I sure hope that’s not the last we ever see of him as he lumbers off into the doom jungle.
Ralph and Jack argue about the advisability of fighting phantom squid-beasts in the dark. Finally, Ralph just straight-up asks Jack why he hates him. That’s ballsy. I have never asked anyone why they don’t like me, ever. I just assume it’s because I never shut up about Zac Efron movies. Charlie St. Cloud was a masterpiece and I don’t want to hear another word about it.
Jack doesn’t answer. Ralph suggests they wait until morning to climb the mountain and confront the almighty squid-beast, but Jack accuses Ralph of being scared and probably bawks like a chicken to really drive the point home. The pair of them wind up climbing the mountain with Roger. Roger and I are then forced to endure two whole pages of Ralph and Jack complaining at each other.
Eventually, however, they stumble upon The Beast™. It’s still just our friendly neighborhood dead guy in a parachute, but they mistake this for some kind of Godzilla-looking behemoth (you know, like you do) and run for their lives. Beast confirmed. I’m not sure how yet, but I know this doesn’t bode well for Simon, the world’s most expendable cinnamon roll. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Simon will spit in the face of destiny. I don’t think he will, but here’s hoping.
What messed-up games did you play as a kid? What does this say about us? Do we all have beasts lying dormant within ourselves?
Is Simon a Hufflepuff?
Who the hell is Robert?
Find the next chapter and every installment of Elodie’s Lord of the Flies blog HERE, and our Blogging the Classics index page HERE!