In Chapter 10 of Lord of the Flies, why does Ralph continue to dream about home and the bus station as comforting thoughts to him?

2 Answers

andrewnightingale's profile pic

andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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At this point in the novel, Ralph, Piggy, Samneric, and a few of the littluns are separated from the other boys, who have all become part of Jack's group of savages. Ralph's reflections are an escape from the reality of his unfortunate circumstances. It is evident that he uses these memories as a coping mechanism. The contrast between what he has been experiencing and how privileged he had been at home illustrates just how harsh his present situation is. This form of escapism allows him to at least find solace in the fact that such a life is awaiting him upon rescue and helps him maintain his sanity.

Golding also uses the juxtaposition to indicate the dichotomy between a civilized life of pleasure and enjoyment to a harsh one in which the struggle to survive is the only reality. The boys' situation on the island is a symbol of mankind stripped of the veneer of civilization. The boys are exposed on the island. They are without the security their parents normally provide and lack the homely comforts offered by a civilized existence. In this new reality, they are confronted with challenges that drive them to the brink. Golding suggests that when humankind is so exposed, we turn to our basest nature to endure. This point is emphasized most strongly by the behavior of Jack and his hunters. They become savages and disregard and reject all the rules of civilized behavior.

Furthermore, it is clear that in these circumstances the law of the jungle is supreme: only the fittest or strongest survive. For this to happen, mankind, symbolized by the boys, turns to the beast within. Even Ralph and Piggy, the most rule-oriented and civilized of the boys, experience their inner savagery. Ralph is driven by an instinctual urge to hurt and maim during the hunting game when Robert depicts the pig. He wants to get close to the flesh and somehow do it harm.

Ralph too was fighting to get near, to get a handful of that brown, vulnerable flesh. The desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering.

Both boys also lose themselves on the beach when they attack what is assumed to be the beast but is actually Simon crawling out of the forest. It is only after the fact that the two realize that they had been caught up in a frenzy and had, in the process, committed the ultimate crime—murder. The thought is too ghastly, especially for Piggy, to contemplate.

If one considers the trials and tribulations that Ralph has gone through, it is no wonder that he longs and dreams of better. 

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While Jack holds court with Roger and the others and frightens them with the threat of the beast returning, Ralph and Piggy are down on the beach lighting a fire with Piggy's glasses.  Ralph wants them to gather firewood so they will have a comforting "hearth" through the night.  However, the task is too difficult as Piggy will have an asthma attack if he "pulls logs." Same and Eric grow weary, so Ralph abandons the idea.  As they gather in the shaky shelter, Ralph feels "defenseless with the darkness pressing in."  Settling down, Ralph begins his nightly "game of supposing" that they could be flown home by a jet and land in Wiltshire where they would go by car, then train all the way to Devon.  Ralph ponders a safe town that is "tamed" where no savagery exists.  "What could be safer than the bus center with its lamps and wheels?"

Suddenly, he awakens as Sam and Eric are fighting each other in their fear.  Piggy remarks, "If we don't get home soon we'll be barmy."  Ralph agrees, saying "Round the bend," which means crazy.  Clearly, Ralph and Piggy both want a return to their old life, lit by electric builbs like the bus center, and fires; a life that is safe and warm, a life that is civilized.