Summary and Analysis
Chapter 7 - Shadows and Tall Trees
Ralph now longs for the comfort of the familiar, but the home he wishes for is a glamorized ideal. He remembers his former life as a place where "Everything was all right; everything was good-humored and friendly." The reader, of course, is aware that back home — the world the boys have left — exactly the same sorts of human weaknesses which dominate the boys are playing out in the form of nuclear war. As Ralph looks out at the ocean and viscerally experiences its size and power, he considers how the other side of the island offers "the shield of the quiet lagoon" and midday mirages to protect them all from the truth of the ocean's vastness. Faced with the reality of the ocean, he feels as though hope for rescue, and by extension for civilization, has become a mirage.
The images of civilization are in his head as are its voices — the same voices that conditioned Roger's aim to miss Henry, for example, and Piggy's, chiding him for being childish and another voice scolding him for being foolish enough to allow Jack to goad him into seeking out a potentially dangerous animal in the dark with only two other boys and spears of wood. In counterpart to the voices of civilization in his head is Jack's voice, a disembodied voice in the dark like the figurative devil on his shoulder: "'If you don't want to go on,' said the voice sarcastically, 'I'll go up by myself.'" By not attributing this challenge directly to Jack, Golding not only indicates the supreme darkness in which the boys are working but also emphasizes the evil that Jack represents. He describes Jack as a "stain in the darkness;" when Jack leaves, "The stain vanished. Another took its place."
The other stain is Roger, the darkened figure who joined them when all the other boys fled to the safety of the beach. Roger has already established himself as mean-spirited, coldly following the littlun Henry to frighten him with stones that just miss. During Robert's beating, Roger was "fighting to get close," to take part in the hurting before it ended. Finally, it is symbolically significant that, in this second ascent up the mountain, Roger, who is evil and sadistic, has replaced Simon, who is spiritual and mystic, representing the devolution of the boys toward their primitive, savage nature. Later chapters reveal Roger as more sadistic even than Jack.
Confronted with the dead paratrooper, however, Roger is just as terrified as the other two boys. They fear the dead man because they believe him to be a live, predatory creature. He is merely a catalyst, however, for the savagery that will run amok on the island. Just as Ralph feels himself taken over by the bloodlust that infects the hunters, he gets a taste of hatred as a means of courage, forcing himself to approach the false beast by fusing "his fear and loathing into a hatred," a hatred that bolsters his will and drives him forward to investigate where his good sense tells him not to go. When this ape-like creature "lifted its head, holding toward them the ruin of a face," it is showing them the ruin of their humanity as their instinctive evil begins to take over when they are weakened by fear.
dun dull grayish-brown.
coverts covered or protected places; shelters.
toilet the process of dressing or grooming oneself.
scurfy having a condition, as dandruff, in which the skin sheds little, dry scales.
brine water full of salt.
do us here, kill us.
bum [Brit. Slang] the buttocks.
rugger [Brit. Informal] rugby.
funk a cowering or flinching through fear; panic.
windy long-winded, pompous, boastful.
impervious not affected by something or not feeling the effects of something.