Lord of the Flies Chapter 5
Ralph has called an emergency assembly by blowing the conch in order to discuss the current crisis he sees afflicting the group. This is the latest a meeting has been held so far--it is already after nightfall. At last, Ralph recognizes and adopts Piggy's pattern of thinking, respecting him now as an equal or even as a superior, contrary to his previous impressions. "Piggy, for all his ludicrous body, had brains. Ralph was a specialist in thought now, and could recognize thought in another." Chapter 5, pg. 71. Ralph lapses into a long serious monologue intended to convey his intense worries and fears about what was happening to the group's dynamics. The coconut shells laid out to be drunk from are no longer filled; the shelters were finished by himself and Simon alone; the assigned place for lavatory use near a certain area of rocks is no longer used and the children defecate just about anywhere including near the fruit trees they eat from. He says again that the signal fire must stay lit and that fire shall burn only on the mountain, recalling Piggy's earlier reprimand when part of the island had been burnt due to their carelessness. The signal fire takes priority over the hunting and killing pigs, he says. Many of the children laugh, hardly taking his words to heart.
However, the boys quickly become solemn when talk of the beast is brought up again. One littlun, Phil, speaks of nightmares he has of "something big and horrid" in the trees. As it turns out, he had been walking in his sleep in the woods and the creature moving was actually Simon, mistaken to be the beast. Percival Wemys Madison speaks next declaring that the beast comes out of the sea, quickly followed by more assurance not to worry from Ralph and Jack as well. Piggy even chimes in, "'Life...is scientific....I know there isn't no beast...but I know there isn't no fear, either....Unless we get frightened of people.'" Chapter 5, pg. 76. Here is the first suggestion that the presence of the beast as is derived from fear within their own minds. Once more Piggy's insight gives a certain clarity to the group's thoughts. Jack gives his bit next saying, "'[F]ear can't hurt you any more than a dream. There aren't any beasts to be afraid of on this island....Serve you right if something did get you, you useless lot of cry-babies!'" Chapter 5, pg. 75. His coldness and insensitivity have become even more intense after donning his painted tribal mask.
Simon ends the beast discussion in an attempt to offer what he felt was an explanation: "'Maybe there is a beast....maybe it's only us.'" Chapter 5, pg. 80. This again hits closer to home than even Piggy's comment, about the fear and paranoia they boys have for each other. Taking it one step further, instead of each other person becoming a beast and an object to be potentially feared, Simon suggests that they are themselves the beast rather than it being everyone else. It is not without but a thing from within. Regretfully, no one understands him and his attempt at explaining this is a failure.
Focused discussion within the assembly at this point breaks down and Ralph is at a loss as the boys talk about the beast of the island. Jack talks out of turn, declaring now that if there is a beast he and his hunters shall track it down and kill it. Ralph realizes at last how much "[t]he world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away." Chapter 5, pg. 82. With all the boys dispersing without warning, he is unable to act. Anarchy and chaos have come to dominate the assembly and the democracy he had tried so hard to establish. Only Simon and Piggy remain to comfort him. He wishes to resign his post as chief and give up but Piggy fears that without Ralph in power as his protector, Jack will harm him. Simon too blurts out another random comment as is his nature, simply: "Go on being chief." The three then try to imagine what grown-ups would do in their position, knowing that they would conduct themselves according to good standards and what is proper. Ralph laments on how "something grown-up" should be sent to them as a sign, to give them hope.