In the final scene of Lord of the Flies, Ralph encounters a British naval officer as he staggers to his feet on the beach.
For much of the novel, Ralph and Piggy have hoped that an adult would locate the group of missing boys and rescue them. Just when it looks as though all hope is lost, Ralph looks up to see a man wearing a "white-topped hat" along with a gun and a "row of gilt buttons down the front of a uniform" who is suddenly standing on the beach with him.
The officer is "astonished" by the destruction and mayhem he encounters, surprised that a group of British boys were not able to "put up a better show" when left alone on an island. Ironically, the naval officer represents an adult world that is perhaps even more brutal than the savagery the boys have demonstrated; he represents a world where adults engage in worldwide wars to exert control over nations of people.
Still, this is the escape Ralph has hoped for since arriving on the island, and his body collapses into great sobs as he recalls all they have lost on the island. The naval officer looks upon Ralph with embarrassment as he prepares to take him back to civilization.