Lord of the Flies By William Golding Summary and Analysis Chapter 10 - The Shell and the Glasses

Summary

The next morning, Ralph finds that only Piggy, Samneric, and some littluns remain in his camp. Brooding over the previous night's events, he points out to Piggy that they murdered Simon. Piggy objects to the use of the term "murder" and doesn't want Samneric to know that he and Ralph were at least somewhat involved in the deadly dance. Samneric don't want to admit their own involvement, either.

Jack begins acting ever more like a cruel dictator to his own tribe members, having one of the boys tied up and beaten for angering him. He plans a raid on Ralph's camp to get fire for another pig roast and tries to convince his uneasy followers that they had beaten but not killed the beast the previous night. The beast had come to them in disguise, he asserts, in utter denial that they had killed one of their former group.

Back at Ralph's camp, the boys decide to let the fire die for the night rather than collect more wood in the dark. Because Jack and his raiders can't steal burning branches, they attack Ralph's group and steal Piggy's glasses.

Analysis

This chapter reveals the boys' responses to their actions of the night before, when they beat Simon to death in a tribal frenzy. Ralph is the only character who names the deed as murder and has a realistic, unvarnished view of his participation. Back at the platform, he takes a seat in front of the chief's log rather than on it and contemplates the horror of what they've done. He feels both loathing and excitement over the kill he witnessed, as Jack experienced the first time he killed a pig. He shudders at Piggy's touch on his shoulder; humanity has let him down. Putting the pieces together, he recalls the parachuted figure drifting off the night before and Simon's shouting about a dead man on the mountain, musing that the life-like figure they saw on the mountaintop might have been the dead paratrooper rather than an actual animal-beast. Getting to the heart of the matter, he says, "I'm frightened. Of us."

Although he initially owns up to his active role in the fatal dance, as a defense mechanism, Ralph willingly takes the opportunity Piggy gives him to deny full participation, entering into a sort of functional denial. When Piggy reminds Ralph that he himself remained on the outside of the circle, Ralph tries to amend his position as well, now claiming that he, too, was on the outside of the circle and so could not have done as much damage as the boys in the inner ring.

Piggy is in full-fledged denial of anyone's responsibility, unable to process the death without blaming Simon for his seemingly odd behavior. Ever the pragmatist, Piggy complains, "What good're you doing talking like that?" when Ralph brings up the highly charged issue of Simon's death at their hands. True, his involvement is somewhat limited; as Ralph mentions, Piggy stayed on the outside of the circle. Golding doesn't provide a reason as to why Piggy remained on the outside, whether his position was due to his physical inability to make his way into the inner circle or whether he simply wasn't able to tap into the animality of the more physically abled boys or both. Golding, however, does include Piggy in the damning description of the boys as they sit on the platform that morning, with the sun shining on their "befouled bodies."

Piggy tries to keep life scientific and intellectual, despite the previous night's emotionally charged incident, "searching for a formula" to explain the death. He asserts that the assault on Simon was justifiable because Simon asked for it by inexplicably crawling out of the forest into the ring. Piggy, of course, is unaware that Simon had to crawl because his visionary confrontation with the true beast had so weakened him.

Continued on next page...

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

By the end of the book who is dead?




Quiz