Summary and Analysis Chapter 11


Samneric fully appreciate this difference; their change in perspective is evident at the assembly. In Chapter 6, they speak mockingly of a schoolmaster nicknamed Old Waxy as if his waxing anger was nothing to fear. Now they fear for their lives, saying that if Jack "gets waxy we've had it." Even more devastating to their morale is Ralph's oddly timed outburst of "smoke! We've got to have smoke." From his delivery, they realize Ralph can't remember why they need smoke but is just mouthing the words as a sort of desperate plea for clarity. Piggy, too, grasps that Ralph has forgotten the purpose of smoke; his reminder of smoke's purpose makes Ralph defensive. Ralph's denial of his fallibility causes them to view him as fallible. They look at him as though "seeing him for the first time": a boy trying to accomplish what an adult would have difficulty achieving in these circumstances — reasoning with a pack of killers.

Roger, the sadist, relishes the role of a killer. In Chapter 4, Roger is restrained from throwing stones directly at other boys by the social discipline internalized during his former life. When he makes Sam nearly lose his footing with a well-placed stone throw, Roger experiences viscerally the mastery he can now wield over others, and the reader recognizes a dramatic change. Like Samneric, Roger's perspective has changed with the power shift on the island. From his point of view on top of Castle Rock, "Ralph was a shock of hair and Piggy a bag of fat"; they are not humans or other boys to him. Mentally dehumanizing those not in his group frees Roger from the restraints of decency, an effect he feels as "a sense of delirious abandonment" when he releases the rock that kills Piggy.

Perceiving other humans as less than human is the basis of an infinite number of prejudices and bigotry as well as the moral underpinning of genocide. Jack's boys enthusiastically bind Samneric because they sense Samneric's "otherness"; that otherness allows the savages to justify their cruelty against their own kind. Such a mental adjustment is also necessary for soldiers to make in order to justify killing their enemies who are part of the family of humanity, an adjustment made even by the very civil and polite naval officer who ultimately rescues the boys. All the boys made that adjustment themselves when they chose to perceive Simon as the beast rather than as one of their own.

Although all the boys were guilty in Simon's death, the other savages perceive Roger differently after Piggy's death. Because he calmly and single-handedly kills someone, he is marked as a hangman, one who "wields a nameless authority." Just as Ralph has an instinct for diplomacy and leadership, Roger has an instinct for torture. Without the "protection of parents and school and policeman and the law" which surrounded Henry in Chapter 4 and forced Roger to miss when he threw stones, Roger is free within Jack's primitive subculture to make deadly contact.

Ralph seeks to remind the savages of those very constraints, to summon the conditioning voices of civilization that always warned them to play nice and share with others. At the assembly, he suggests that his group present an image of their former, civilized selves when approaching the savages. He wants to differentiate his group from Jack's tribe, as if to remind them of what they've lost or tantalize them with what they could have if rescue is achieved. In contrast, Samneric want to put on paint, hoping for mercy through assimilation. They fear that reminding Jack of the constraints he's now free of will only aggravate his abuse of power. "They'll be painted! You know how it is." Sadly, the twins turn out to be correct about the antagonizing effect of "otherness." When Jack orders his boys to bind the twins, Samneric "protested out of the heart of civilization" with language that marks them as outsiders in this group, which has left behind such civilized verbal niceties as "Oh, I say!"

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