Summary and Analysis Chapter 11



Ralph calls an assembly at Piggy's urging, wherein they decide the four remaining biguns will ask Jack's tribe for the glasses back, reminding them of a signal fire's importance. Samneric express a real fear of approaching the other boys who have now become complete savages.

Jack's tribe is hostile to Ralph's little group; Roger throws stones at the twins to scare them. Jack emerges from the forest where he had been hunting and tells Ralph to go back to his end of the island. When Ralph calls him a thief for stealing Piggy's glasses, they fence briefly with their spears before Piggy reminds Ralph to focus on their agenda.

The savages laugh derisively at Ralph's impassioned speech about the necessity of a signal fire. Then Jack orders his tribe to grab Samneric and tie them up, prompting a fistfight between himself and Ralph. Again, Piggy interrupts and, holding the conch, attempts a speech as well. While Piggy admonishes the boys for becoming savages, Roger releases a huge boulder in Piggy's direction, knocking him off the cliff to his death on the rocks below. A large wave quickly carries off his body.

Jack screams in victory at Ralph and then throws his spear at him. The spear wounds Ralph but bounces off, and Ralph flees for his life. Samneric remain tied up in the hands of the savages, menaced by Jack and soon to be tortured by Roger.


As the last three biguns remaining with Ralph, they have a great stake in quickly developing some solutions to Piggy's virtual blindness and the loss of a signal fire, as well as protecting themselves from Jack's deadly tribe. Piggy insists that Ralph call an assembly to discuss the matter. Although blowing the conch to summon only themselves seems rather ridiculous, Piggy asserts that "It's the only thing we got." Assemblies regulated by the conch still bring him comfort despite their lack of effectiveness.

In fact, the conch is the only tool of authority or action left to them, but it's an ineffectual one, given the savages' loss of regard for it. When Ralph blows the conch at Castle Rock, for example, the savages greet him with silence and a stone thrown at Sam by Roger. The conch symbolizes not only the power to speak during assembly but also the power of speech itself, an ability that separates humans from animals. In a way, the savages cause Ralph to lose his power of speech, when he gives up his address on the importance of rescue because he is "defeated by the silence and the painted anonymity." With the exceptions of Jack's commands, the savages' reactions to Ralph's and Piggy's speeches are all non-verbal: jeering, laughing, booing, and a general "clamor." Following Roger's impulsive assassination of Piggy, "the silence was complete" as Piggy provided the last bastion of human intellect and reason on the island.

Even up to the moment of his death, Piggy's perspective doesn't shift in response to the reality of their situation. At their little assembly, he demands action, still relying on Ralph to get things done despite the obvious disregard for his authority shown by all of Jack's tribe. Piggy cannot think as the others think or value what they value. Because his eminently sensible approach to life is modeled on the attitudes and rules of the authoritative adult world, he thinks everyone should share his values and attitudes as a matter of course. Speaking of the deaths of Simon and the littlun with the birthmark who had first brought up the beast as a concern, he asks "What's grownups goin' to think?" as if he is not so much mourning the boys' deaths as he is mourning the loss of values, ethics, discipline, and decorum that caused those deaths. Claiming that Jack has "got to" return his glasses because "what's right's right," he reveals that he holds a certain code of ethics to be universal and non-negotiable, as fundamental as fire. In reality ethics originate from a particular society's values and expectations; Jack's subculture has radically different ethics from Ralph's.

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