23 Mar 2015 15 May 2017
Golding's Lord Of The Flies is based on an island after the second world war. Through-out the novel, Golding treats the island as a microcosm of the war. Within this is microcosm, the island commences as a utopia but it is not until chapter 8 when it gradually evolves into a dystopia as the ultimate battle for jealousy and power breaks out.
The modification and degradation in certain characters' behaviour from their normal life of civilization makes chapter 8 key to Golding's Lord Of The Flies' . It is the main chapter in which democracy is demolished, savagery kicks in and the definitive chapter in which Simon has the ultimate encounter with the Lord Of The Flies. I will explore Golding's use of symbolism, plot, imagery, language, Christian morals, setting, themes and story structure as well as the novel's overall historical context to establish the fact that chapter 8 is the most significant chapter to the novel as a whole.
This is the vital episode in which Ralph experiences difficulties dealing with 'the beast.' He acknowledges its existence and in doing so spreads fear amongst the other boys. This is illustrated when Ralph portrays the beast as having 'teeth' and 'big black eyes.' Ralph instantly decides that fighting the beast is not an option; leaving the boys with no alternative than to hide from the beast and live under its shadow. Ralph's fear about the beast is conveyed in his own words for the preliminary time in chapter 8, expressing the chapter's great magnitude and relevance. As evidenced in the above quotations, it is in chapter 8 that the beast is embellished and made to seem scarier than reality, again showing the chapter's eloquence.
This powerful section centres on Ralph's pessimism which contributes to his poor management of the beast. He does not appreciate that the 'littluns' take him seriously and visualise the news as a sign for panic. Ralph explains, 'I don't think we'd ever fight a thing that size, honestly, you know. We'd talk, but we wouldn't fight a tiger. We'd hide. Even Jack 'ud' hide.' Ralph's apathy is conveyed because he makes himself believe that his hopes are slim. From Ralph's language, the reader and other characters become under the impression that the beast is huge and can not be fought. Here, the key notion which makes chapter 8 substantial is that Ralph injects pain and fear into the unstable community instead of calming them.
Ralph's priority is evacuating the island rather than confronting the beast. This is illustrated when Ralph says 'As long as there's light we're brave enough. But then? And now that thing squats by the fire as though it didn't want us to be rescued... So we can't have a signal fire... We're beaten.' The reader comprehends the boys' inability of coping with darkness because of their strong fear of the beast. Little do the boys know, that the beast is living inside them like a parasite which can not live on its own but is in need of a host to live in. This is momentous to chapter 8 because we learn that Ralph's desire is not to stay on the island or integrate himself into the island in order to avoid mingling with the beast.
Throughout chapter 8, the 'conch' acts as a symbol of authority and order. At the beginning of the chapter, 'the conch glimmered among the trees.' This is pivotal to chapter 8 because the glimmering of the conch confirms its importance and the way it stands out in nature, symbolises how right actions stand out from wrong actions. From the beginning of the book, the conch takes the place of civilization and democracy which are clearly two social aspects which the island lacks after the destruction of the conch. It is because of the conch's destruction or in other words the destruction of authority, that degradation and an uncivilized atmosphere are the shocking result.
Jack blows the conch and calls a meeting at the start of chapter 8. This makes the chapter especially significant because normally, Jack has a certain disregard for the rules but however it is in this chapter that he uses the conch and applies the rules for his own benefit. Jack makes negative comments in the meeting about Ralph like, 'Ralph said my hunters are no good', 'He's like piggy...he isn't a proper chief...he's a coward himself...' 'He's not a hunter. He'd never have got us meat... He just gives orders and expects people to obey for nothing', He competes with Ralph for leadership, which is unmistakably a direct challenge and describes Ralph as 'not a prefect ' which is the last reference to the boys' previous school life. This is especially portrayed in chapter 8 because Jack attempts undermining Ralph in order to attract the littluns to his own life style. He also capitalises on the appearance of the beast, although he himself is scared of its shadowy presence too. However, he realises that the group's faith in Ralph is ever decreasing because of the fear and instability of the beast on the island.
Jack reacts very violently to the beast, but does not aim his anger at the beast; instead he aims it at Ralph's leadership and at hunting. He has bloodlust and loves to hunt and kill, the food is merely a by-product of the adrenaline that it gives him to hunt, chase and kill another animal. He has passed his passion onto his hunters. This is predominantly shown in the chapter when Golding mentions that, 'The hunters followed, wedded to her in lust, excited by the long chase and the dropped blood...' This is particularly pivotal to chapter 8 because he uses the possibility of pacifying the beast as a way of seducing the boys to what he wants them to do. He uses the promise of exciting hunting, brilliant feasts and most of all, the promise that the beast will not bother them and the promise that the beast will cease to be a constant point of fear for the boys.
Simon has a diverse reaction to 'the beast' compared to the other boys in the novel. This is especially expressed in chapter 8 because it is when Simon instinctively knows that the beast is something that has manifested itself in the heads, hearts and minds of the boys, giving them a focus for their fear. He endeavours to disprove the beast's existence by climbing the mountain and discovering what it was that Ralph and Jack saw; 'I thought there might be something to do, something we-' again the pressure of the assembly took his voice away... 'I think we ought to climb the mountain... What else is there to do?' Simon climbs the mountain and his theory is proven, when he locates a dead parachutist and encounters the pig's head. This attests that Simon's predictions about the existence of a physical beast were right. This is crucial to chapter 8 because Simon's Christ-like figure is revealed.
The imperative confrontation between Simon and the 'Lord of the Flies' takes place in chapter 8 showing the chapters even greater magnitude. When Simon confronts the 'Lord of the Flies', it is just a pig's head on a stick, which Jack had stuck into the ground in Simon's special retreat. However, when Simon is speaking to it he doesn't see it as a pig's head; he interprets it as evil. When the 'Lord of the Flies' is talking to Simon, the dialogue is like a schoolmaster is telling him off. 'You are a silly little boy... just a silly ignorant little boy. 'The Lord Of The Flies' intentionally talks in this manner to try overpowering Simon's thoughts and mind and acts as if he knows better.
The pig's head then progresses by instructing Simon to go and socialise with the other boys, or they will think he is crazy. 'You'd better run off and play with the others'. 'You don't want Ralph to think you're batty, do you?' Overall, in this vital episode, 'The Lord of the Flies' starts forcing Simon into thinking that no one on the island likes him. This is principally illustrated in chapter 8 because the 'Lord of the Flies' tries to affect Simon's thoughts by making him socialise with the evil boys. The beast attempts taking control of Simon by saying, 'There isn't anyone to help you. Only me. And I'm the Beast'. Simon's reaction to this is to shout insults at the pig's head. 'Pig's head on a stick!' This confirms that Simon understands that this is all it is. The Lord Of The Flies attempts gaining Simon's obedience. This is ironic because it is similar to what happens to Jesus, making chapter 8 religiously momentous as well. Subsequently, the 'Lord of the Flies' informs Simon that 'he can't kill it.' The beast sarcastically says, 'Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!' This section is even more relevant because the 'Lord Of The Flies' tries to embed it's presence inside Simon's head by declaring its state of immortality.
The island itself, particularly chapter 8, functions as a kind of Garden of Eden that is gradually corrupted by the introduction of evil. The Lord of the Flies may be seen as a symbol for the devil, since it works to promote evil among mankind. An example of this is when the 'Lord of the Flies' tells Simon to, 'Get back to the others.' This promotes evil because the other boys' evil will affect Simon.
Chapter 8 is very considerable because it is when Simon is faced with the ethical reality of the novel and is killed sacrificially as a consequence of having discovered the truth. In chapter 8, Golding conveys that Simon's life has strong parallels with that of Jesus which is a very pivotal part of the chapter. His conversation with the Lord of the Flies mirrors the confrontation between Christ and the devil in Christian theology. There are unfortunate consequences to Simon's death in that the island is thrown into a deeper network of misery and unhappiness. The beast says to Simon, 'Aren't you afraid of me?' and 'You don't want Ralph to think you're batty do you?' Simon's wisdom is portrayed through the concept that he does not believe and act by the beast's words, indicating the importance and great significance of chapter 8 to the novel.
To conclude, Chapter 8 is key to Golding's Lord Of The Flies because it is where the instability of Jack, Piggy and Ralph an the island is conveyed. This has strong comparisons with people's physical and emotional feelings during World War 2. Additionally, being under immense pressure of the gradual immersion of a dystopia, some of the boys like Ralph loose control but others like Jack capitalise on the fear of the littluns. This is echoed in the war when Hitler capitalises on the fear of the other countries and the public. Golding also conveys the notion of fear in chapter 8 making the chapter significant. The chapter is also prophetic because of Simon's death. Finally, Golding explains the divisions within the group of children as a symbol of destruction of order and authority. This originates from the biblical reference of 'Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to destruction.' (Mathew 12.25) The above points tie together to prove the chapter's eloquence to the novel as a whole.
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