What do Ralph and Jack embarrassingly realize?In chapter Two of Lord of the Flies

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter Two Ralph calls a meeting with the conch that Piggy has found.  He and Jack talk excitedly of the island, its resources, and the rescue fire they can build.  However, as the discussions continue, order begins to erode and Jack and Ralph both childishly tell Piggy to "shut up."  When the little boy with the mulberry-stain on his face complains of having seen a "snakelike" thing that he calls "the beastie," Ralph says, "But there isn't a beastie."

Seizing the conch, Jack concurs with Ralph, but he adds,

"But if there was a snake, we'd hunt and kill it.  We're going to hunt pigs to get meat for everybody. And we'll look for the snake too--"

"But there isn't a snake!" Ralph insists

"We'll make sure when we go hunting." Jack insists.

Golding narrates,

Ralph was annoyed and, for the moment, defeated.  He felt himself facing something ungraspable.  the eyes that looked so intently at him were without humor....Something he had not known was there rose in him and compelled him to make the point, loudly and again.

Clearly, Ralph realizes that there is a rivalry initiated between him and Jack.  As he senses his new authority, he feels happiness and revels in Piggy's admiration, but he notices the smirk on Jack's face.  Then, when Ralph says that they must make a fire, Jack takes the lead, "Come on! Follow me!"

However, despite their leadership abilities, both Jack and Ralph realize that they are not really equipped for their new roles on the island.  When the brush and logs and leaves are piled together,

Ralph and Jack looked at each other while society paused about them. The shameful knowledge grew in them and they did not know how to begin confession.

Neither of the boys knows how to start a fire without matches. They have to admit their "incompetence."  Roger tells them to make a bow and spin the arrow; then, as Piggy appears, Jack takes command of the situation by grabbing Piggy's glasses. This interaction between Ralph and Jack and the burgeoning rivalry foreshadows the conflict that will follow in Lord of Flies.


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