In chapter 12 how does Ralph try to convince himself that the boys are harmless? Why doesnt he succeed?William Golding  "Lord of the Flies"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 12 of "Lord of the Flies."

He [Ralph] argued unconvincingly that they would let him alone, perhaps even make an outlaw of him.  But then the fatal unreasoning knowledge came to him again.  The breaking of the conch and the death of Piggy and Simon lay over the island like a vapor.  These painted savages would go further and further.  Then there was that indefinable connection between himself and Jack; who, therefore, would never let him alone; never.

Ralph's wisdom of intuition along with the past events fail to convince him otherwise.  "A spasm or terror set him shaking" and he tries to convince himself again.  He tries to ignore the "leaden feeling," but as he makes his way through a thicket, he comes into a clearing and upon the Lord of the Flies who has become a skull that "seemed to jeer at him cynically."

Ralph runs and kneels among the shadows, feeling

his isolation bitterly. They were savages it was true; but they were human, and the ambushing fears of the deep night were coming on....he knew he was an outcast.

He, then, hears the cries "Kill the beast! Cut his throat!  Spill his blood!"  Shortly after this, Samneric appear and tell his to go, pleading that "they made us";  Eric tells Ralph, "Never mind what's sense.  That's gone--"  They explain that Roger is coming to check on them. 

Ralph realizes that he can only hope that he can remain hidden when the boys pass by the next morning and then, perhaps, the boys will have become more rational. But, in the morning he is awakened by a chant and he wiggles into the thicket only to see the legs of a savage coming his way.  He hears Roger and Jack asking Sam and Eric where he is hiding.  They are going to come for him.  Soon he is a cornered animal, but breaks free as there is smoke.  Ralph becomes the prey until he runs into the naval officer.  Ironically, the fire that the boys started to smoke out Ralph becomes the fire of redemption.

MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Even when thinking about the deaths of Simon and Piggy, Ralph tells himself "No. They're not as bad as that. It was an accident." He is still unable to comprehend the magnitude of what has happened on the island. He decides to ignore them for the moment, and attempt to "rely on their common sense, their daylight sanity." He rationalizes that their actions are a result of tehir frenzy in the hunt, and that when dawn breaks they will have come to their senses.

However, the next morning, following his confrontation with the pig's skull, Ralph "could see that the height was still occupied, and whoever it was up there had a spear at the ready." Ralph realizes now that he was wrong. The hunters have waited all night for him, and will continue to wait. He is bound by his own optimism, which is no match for the brutality of Jack and Roger.

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Lord of the Flies

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