Chapter 7 "Shadows and Tall Trees" Notes from Lord of the Flies

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Lord of the Flies Chapter 7 "Shadows and Tall Trees"

The boys, led by Jack and Ralph, continue their search for the beast sighted by Samneric on the mountain, walking along the pig-run. Ralph reminisces again for his old life, when he was clean and had a proper haircut; where there were ponies back home and books; where he ate cornflakes with sugar, not pig and fruit. He escapes to his thoughts, into the reflection of all the luxuries he is now forced to live without. Comfort comes from Simon who assures him simply, as if reading his thoughts, "'You'll get back to where you came from.'" Chapter 7, pg. 100.

After Roger traces out fresh pig droppings on the ground, Jack convinces Ralph to allow them to hunt as they continue along; he agrees. A boar is soon pursued by all of the boys, including Ralph, who has sticks it with a spear as it makes its escape. In the chase, Jack's arm has been cut by the pig's tusks. Even though the prey has gotten away, the boys relive the thrill of hunting by encircling Robert as if he were the pig, grabbing and pulling at him in a circle, chanting yet again: "'Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!'" Chapter 7, pg. 104 to one another. Even Ralph is compelled to join them, "fighting to get near....The desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering." Chapter 7, pg. 104.

Just as earlier rules were established to create Ralph's society with the assembly and conch, so now does this ritual cause the hunters to visualize a new type of society, with this ritual improved by "a fire [and]...a keep time." Jack adds that someone could dress up like the pig and the others would reenact the battle to slay it. The focus of the group drifts further from that envisioned by Ralph, partly due to his own participation in the hunter's activities. Even he is beginning to lose sight of his purpose by hunting the pig. Finally he remembers his purpose, as if emerging from a trance, and urges them to rekindle the signal fire, after all of their talk of pig rituals and dancing.

Topic Tracking: Pig 5
Topic Tracking: Religion 7
Topic Tracking: Government 8

Simon volunteers to go back to the camp to check up on Piggy and the littluns. Without warning, he disappears into the forest. The rest go on along the pig-run following at last to the mountain where Samneric saw the "beast." Night has fallen and as they climb ash blows through their eyes and hair, remnants of the blaze which was burnt across the island their first night there. Jack continues to cajole Ralph for being so concerned about Piggy, whom Jack has resented from the beginning, perhaps viewing Ralph's concern as betrayal to him. Sarcastically he says, "'We musn't let anything happen to Piggy, mustn't we?'" Chapter 7, pg. 106. Ralph's talent as a leader is also called into question here with the narrator's comment: "Ralph...would treat the day's decisions as though he were playing chess. The only trouble was that he would never be a very good chess player." Chapter 7, pg. 106. Rather than an ideal leader, Ralph is shown here to be quite the opposite. This is evidenced in his inconsistent behavior, such as that seen earlier when he loses sight of his own mission and allows Jack to take control of the group.

At last, only three go on to reach the summit of the mountain: Roger, Ralph and Jack; the others have stayed behind because of fear. There they see the same bowed figure of the lifeless pilot, swaying in the wind before them. Without warning they cast down their spears and all three run madly back to the security of the beach where the other children are waiting.

Topic Tracking: Government 9
Topic Tracking: Intellectual 6

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