Based upon Chapter 2, "Fire on the Mountain," please answer the following:
1. Characterize Ralph
2. Characterize Piggy
3. Characterize Simon
4. Characterize Jack
5. What do the boys have that is the symbol of authority in the society they form?
6. What does a little 'un think he has seen in the forest, and how does this affect the boys?
7. What is the importance of fire?
1. Ralph is the "Golden Boy," fair and handsomely fashioned for a boy of twelve. In Chapter 2, after having discovered the conch, he blows it to gather the boys into a meeting. After clearing his throat, "he found he could talk fluently and explain what he had to say." When Jack interrupts, Ralph acknowledges what he says about the pigs, but restores order by insisting that the boys raise their hands before speaking and then take the conch to indicate that they are observing rules. Again, when Jack gets out of order, Ralph calmly pats the log for him to sit.
However, when the small boy with the "mulberry-colored birthmark" mutters and cries, and then Piggy interprets for him that he is afraid of the "snake-like thing" that he also calls "a beastie," Ralph laughs at first, but, then, he tries to reassure the little boy with reason, but the boy needs more than reasonable answers.
Ralph was annoyed, and, for the moment, defeated. He felt himself facing something ungraspable.
Then, he blows the conch and announces that while they want to have fun, they are also working towards being rescued. He challenges Jack's authority by denying that there is a beast, so there is no need for Jack and other to hunt it. Sooner or later, he says, they will be rescued. So, if the boys will build and keep a smoking fire, they will be rescued. By being their leader, Ralph retains a certain distance, yet, by working on the huts with Simon, he claims an empathy for others.
2. Piggy acts as a foil to Ralph at times, and often to Jack. While he lacks the charisma and physical attributes of Ralph, Piggy exercises a reasoning that is beyond Ralph's more immature capabilities. Instead of respect from the other boys, Piggy is subjected to ridicule and rejection because of his looks and because he acts too adult; for instance, when the boys clamor among themselves in their enthusiasm for gathering wood and building the fire, Piggy remarks disdainfully, "Like kids!...Acting like a crowd of kids!" And, then, he adds, "I bet it's gone tea-time."
In a further instance of disrespect for Piggy, when the boys cannot ignite the branches they have gathered, they steal Piggy's glasses from him. And, it is only when Simon comes to his defense that he gets any credit for helping out; otherwise, he is criticized. Nevertheless, he pursues his insistence on protocol, "How can you expect to be rescued if you don't put first things first and act proper?" Piggy represents British propriety and civilized thinking, which fails against the brute force of Jack and the sadism of such as Roger.
3. Simon immediately establishes himself as different from the others in Chapter 2 when he speaks up on behalf of Piggy after the "fat boy" is accused of not helping by Jack. "We used his specs," said Simon..."He helped that way."
4. Jack immediately wishes to establish himself as a leader, too, when Ralph assumes the position of directing the boys. "We'll have rules!...Lots of rules! Then when anyone breaks 'em--" Ironically, he breaks them himself when he does not acknowledge the conch and when he brutally grabs Piggy's specs from him in order to ignite the fire. His sadism is foreshadowed by his frequent mention of "killing." Nevertheless, there is some bonding between Ralph and Jack as they work together to build the fire. Further, Jack defends Ralph at one point--with dramatic irony:
"I agree with Ralph. We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages. We're English, and the English are best at everything. So we've got to do the right thing."
But, it is not long before he becomes lawless as he shouts at Piggy and then becomes the "bolting and nearly mad" hunter as he is ruthless and careless.
5. The conch is the symbol or order. Ralph wants people to follow protocol and be recognized as the speaker by holding the conch.
6. The little boy with the mulberry mark believes he has seen the "beastie" that came in the darkness; although it went away, it returned to try to eat him.
7. The fire is the boys' hope for rescue. Later on, it also provides warmth at night and allows them to cook meat. The accidental burning of the littl'un with a mulberry mark foreshadows the fire that Jack sets in order to kill Ralph at the end of the novel.