What happens to Wilfred in chapter 10 of Lord of the Flies?

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robertwilliam's profile pic

robertwilliam | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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It's not actually depicted in the book, but Robert reports that Wilfred is going to be beaten by Jack and the others.

Robert changed the unspoken subject. 'He's going to beat Wilfred.' 'What for?' Robert shook his head doubtfully.

'I don't know. He didn't say. He got angry and made us tie Wilfred up.'

It's a mark of the savagery of Jack's tribe that the reason for Wilfred's beating is apparently non-existent: it is simply random, cruel violence:

'He's [Wilfred's] been' - he [Robert] giggled excitedly - 'he's been tied for hours, waiting-' 'But didn't the Chief say why?' 'I never heard him.'


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rmhope | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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In chapter 10 of Lord of the Flies, Jack has rebelled against Ralph and has drawn most of the boys after him to form his own tribe. He makes his camp on Castle Rock. When Roger approaches the camp from the neck of land, Robert challenges him, then shows him the boulder that they have set up as a defense. This convinces Roger that Jack is "a proper chief." Robert then offers the information, "He's going to beat Wilfred." Roger inquires as to the reason, and Robert admits that he doesn't know why, but that Jack ordered the boys to tie Wilfred up. At that point, as far as Robert knew, Wilfred had been tied up for hours. Roger contemplates "the possibilities of irresponsible authority," that is, thinks about what he could do if he was not bound by having to justify his actions to anyone.

When Roger moves on beyond the sentry, Robert, he joins the rest of the tribe sitting in a council meeting in front of their cave. Wilfred is no longer tied up. In fact, he is described as "newly beaten," and he sits just outside the semicircle of other boys, "sniffing noisily." The reader assumes that Jack beat Wilfred, probably while he was still tied up, but not enough to cause any lasting physical damage. Still, it was enough to make the boy cry in front of his peers, so it must have been painful as well as humiliating. Wilfred is one of Jack's first object lessons, demonstrating to the rest of his tribe that he can execute punishments on them according to his slightest whim. Confirming the obedience Jack now commands from the boys, Golding describes how the boys buy in to Jack's rewriting of the history of Simon's murder when he reminds them how the beast crawled toward them at the feast. Fully in Jack's control, "the semicircle shuddered and muttered in agreement."


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