Chapter 8 "Gift for the Darkness" Notes from Lord of the Flies

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Lord of the Flies Chapter 8 "Gift for the Darkness"

Upon returning to the beach, Piggy listens in disbelief to Jack and Ralph, who both say they had seen the beast with their own eyes--Ralph declares that it "had teeth and big black eyes." With the sun rising, for the third day in a row an assembly is called with a blow of the conch. It is to be the last of its kind that includes the entire group. The tension between Jack and Ralph reaches a climax with Ralph insulting Jack's hunters by calling them "boys with sticks." Jack counters by stating that Ralph is a coward who is now "like Piggy....He says things like Piggy. He isn't a proper chief.'" Chapter 8, pg. 115.

At this, Jack requests a vote from the group to remove Ralph from power. No one raises their hands and so, lacking support for the motion, he abruptly declares his defection from Ralph's society. Here is the turning point as the group officially splits, although signs of rising tensions between the two have been evident throughout. Jack disappears, inviting all who want to be a hunter to join his new "society".

Topic Tracking: Government 10
Topic Tracking: Intellectual 7

Ralph, feeling his control slip away, turns increasingly to Piggy for support. Simon urges them all to climb the mountain, though his advice is not taken seriously. Instead, Piggy has the idea of building the signal fire on the beach near the shelters. He is in good spirits at the departure of Jack, whom he has always feared as a physical threat (for it was Jack who broke his glasses after slapping his face) and he was "so full of pride in his contribution to the good of society, that he helped to fetch wood." Chapter 8, pg. 118.

It is important to note an almost parasitic relationship which forms between these two; as Ralph learns to think and intellectualize more and more, so too does Piggy learn increasingly to be more aggressive and active in deeds like Ralph. His language becomes less and less an annoyance. Piggy's aunt, whom he would talk endlessly about like a child at the opening of the book, is no longer mentioned at all. Indeed, the boys grow up by learning from one another. To continue to rely on nonexistent adults to guide them would be insensible, so now they rely on themselves for survival, and become responsible.

Among the boys who defect to Jack's society are Bill, Maurice, Roger and others. Even Simon disappears from Ralph's group, though for other reasons--presumably to climb the mountain alone. Samneric, Ralph and Piggy thus happily sit on the beach feasting for the moment on a mountain of fruit, trying to forget their worries.

Topic Tracking: Intellectual 8

Meanwhile, Jack and his hunters slay a female sow disturbed while nursing her piglets. The method in which she is slain is almost violently sexual in nature, as Roger impales her "'Right up her ass!'" Chapter 8, pg. 123 with a spear while Jack cuts her throat, wiping the blood from his hands onto Maurice's cheeks with laughter, as if it were only fingerpaint. In a way, the pig is raped by the boys and defiled, unlike the other pig slayings. Here a boundary has been crossed. It would seem that not only are Ralph and Piggy maturing, but Jack and his hunters are growing up as well, although in a darker way. Roger is ordered to "sharpen a stick at both ends". The sow's head is cut off entirely and left to drip blood and guts onto the ground. "'This head is for the beast. It's a gift.'" Chapter 8, pg. 124 Jack declares boldly, lodging one end of the stick into the ground and placing the sow's head on the other. Picking up the remaining carcass, the boys move onward from the scene.

Topic Tracking: Pig 6
Topic Tracking: Beast 5

The focus returns to Piggy and Ralph, tending the fire on the beach. Piggy blames Jack for the group's problems and Ralph agrees. No longer a steadfast leader with his decreased following, Ralph is biased and shows disdain for Jack, blaming him for everything that has gone wrong on the island. As Simon pointed out earlier, the beast which fills the boys with such fear is actually a figment in their minds, a piece within themselves. There is further discussion of Samneric doing everything together such as tending the fire, in one turn. Thinking as always in terms of logic, Piggy disagrees with this arrangement suggesting they take separate turns at the fire. Ralph leans ever-increasingly upon Piggy for support, needing to be reminded about the need for the signal fire, even after he was the one who insisted it be kept burning in the beginning.

Abruptly, Jack's hunters burst in upon them, grabbing half-burning branches to light their own pig-roasting fire. All are invited to attend Jack's little "party" to eat more meat. The littluns, Samneric and the rest sit in expectation, even as the sky begins to grow dark with clouds.

Simon sits down to rest near the decapitated sow's head in the forest. His curiousity gets the better of him and he decides to wait to see if a beast will actually come for its gift. Flies have begun to swarm around its blood and guts at the base of the stick and they begin to attack Simon as well, and "[Simon's] eyes were half-closed as though he were imitating the obscene thing on the stick." Chapter 8, pg. 130. Suddenly a voice designated only as The Lord of the Flies speaks from nowhere and mocks him, saying "'You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?'" Chapter 8, pg. 130. The pig's skull is unmoving; the voice comes from inside Simon. As he had stated earlier, the beast is a part of all of them, and so he confronts the beast within himself. The ugly beast externalized upon the stake, that pig's head buzzing with flies, suddenly mirrors Simon, eyes half closed and himself buzzing with flies as well. The outside and inside are at this moment one and the same. The beast then begins to threaten him saying, "'You're not wanted....on this island!... So don't try [to take] it on...or else....we shall do you. See? Jack and Roger and Maurice and Robert and Bill and Piggy and Ralph.'" Chapter 8, pg. 131. If Simon attempts again to explain to all of the children that there is really no beast but that which is in themselves, he is warned that he shall be thus killed not only by Jack but by Ralph and Piggy too, for the beast, the voice says, is in all of them. With these words spoken from within, Simon falls unconsciousness after being swallowed by "a vast mouth [with] blackness within." (pg. 131)

Topic Tracking: Religion 8
Topic Tracking: Beast 6

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