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Chapter three of William Golding's Lord of the Flies is significant because it solidifies for us the realization that Jack and Ralph, two of the primary characters in the novel, will never be on the same side of things (in fact, will probably become enemies) while they are on this island.
Nearly the entire chapter demonstrates the difference between these two leaders. Ralph has been working all day, trying to build shelters for the boys so they will have a place where they can feel safe and protected. He knows the boys, especially the littluns, have been having bad dreams and are afraid of some unknown but nonetheless frightening beast on the island, and everyone agrees that the shelters are a good idea.
Despite that, no one but Ralph and Simon have really been working on them. Ralph's priorities are building the shelters and keeping the rescue fire going; the shelters will offer them a safe haven now and the fire will, he hopes, get them rescued one day soon. Both of Ralph's goals are things which benefit the entire group of boys on the island.
Jack, on the other hand, is consumed with hunting. He claims it is because the boys all want meat (which is true); however, it is becoming evident that Jack is obsessed with hunting, meat or no meat. While he intends to share anything he catches during his hunt, Jack's priority is clearly his own self-interest rather than that of the group--or even one other boy on the island.
In this chapter, we clearly see that Ralph and Jack will never be able to co-exist peacefully. Neither boy understands the other, and neither of them is willing to compromise his goals. Two similar quotes which demonstrate this rift can be found in a very short passage from the novel.
They [Ralph and Jack] walked along, two continents of experience and feeling, unable to communicate.
“If I could only get a pig!”
“I’ll come back and go on with the shelter.”
They looked at each other, bafﬂed, in love and hate.
The image of two continents being unable to connect or communicate is a great representation of these two boys; it is also a tremendous foreshadowing, as we understand that two continents will never be able to get much closer than they are now. This, then, is the best it is going to get between them; this is the reality.
The two short lines of dialogue perfectly encapsulate each of the boys' philosophies and goals; and the final description, two boys "baffled, in love and hate," explains their feelings about their inability to understand or communicate with one another. This quote, too, is a foreshadowing of things to come, as we sense that the animosity (hate) between them will only grow worse as the novel progresses.
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