Chapter 2 "Fire on the Mountain" Notes from Lord of the Flies

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Lord of the Flies Chapter 2 "Fire on the Mountain"

The following day, Ralph again uses the conch to call an "assembly" on the beach. He and Jack report their findings from the previous day's exploration. Jack reports the presence of pigs on the island and how he and his hunters shall kill one next time for food without hesitating--he drives his knife once more into the side of a tree to show his conviction.

Concrete rules are established for the children by Ralph: no one speaks to the assembly unless they are holding the conch which gives them the floor. Even the arrangement of the boys on the beach reflects something of a government meeting, carefully partitioned off into groups as "Ralph sat on a fallen trunk, his left side to the sun. On his right were most of the choir; on his left the larger boys who had not known each other before...before him small children squatted in the grass." Chapter 2, pg. 30. Piggy and Jack speak in succession (each in turn holding the conch), concerning their ability to survive on the island until they are rescued. A small boy with a "mulberry-colored birthmark" on his face is urged forward and proclaims his fear of a "beastie" or "snake-thing" on the island which "came after dark." Ralph assures everyone that there is no beastie and Jack proclaims that if there were such a creature, he and his hunters would kill it.

Topic Tracking: Beast 1
Topic Tracking: Government 2

Ralph returns to the issue of how to accelerate their rescue when the grown-ups come looking for them. He suggests they all build a signal fire on top of the mountain he had climbed the day before. In a crowd, the children all rush to the mountaintop and build a large pile of wood, before realizing they have no means to light the fire. Only when he needs something does Ralph actually bother to pay attention to Piggy: "'Have you got any matches?'" Chapter 2, pg. 38. Jack has the idea of using Piggy's glasses to light the fire, readily snatching them off his face without asking permission. Ralph bends to light the fire using the sun's light magnified by the glasses. After this succeeds, Ralph hands back the glasses to Piggy and decides that it is necessary to modify his plan, saying that they must make the smoke darker and people must be assigned to keep the fire always burning so that it will never go out.

Showing respect for democracy and the conch, Jack says, "'We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages. We're English, and the English are best at everything.'" Chapter 2, pg. 40. He volunteers his hunters as being in charge of tending the fire and keeping a lookout for ships. Piggy cuts into the discussion with an odd laughter--looking down, the signal fire has spread to a large section of the island, burning down everything in its path. Piggy says, "'You got your small fire all right.'" Chapter 2, pg. 41

Shelters, not fire, Piggy says, are the most important things to create first. He reprimands them all for their impulsive behavior; he reprimands them for taking his glasses and starting a fire without clearing the area beforehand. Lastly, he notes missing from the group, as parts of the island below them burns, the boy with the birthmark who worried about the "beastie." This boy is never seen again throughout the rest of the story and it is assumed he dies in this fire. All the boys, including Ralph, are at last silent for a moment, their childish impulses put to rest.

Topic Tracking: Intellectual 2

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