In Chapter 12 of Lord of the Flies, what does Ralph do when he is confronted by the Lord of the Flies?

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After being wounded by Jack, Ralph flees into the forest. Trying to come to terms with Piggy's death and how the boys could have murdered him, he finds himself face to face with the skull, now picked clean, that Jack had put on a stick in front of Simon's thicket. He shivers involuntarily at the sight, trying to figure out what it could be. Overcome by "sick fear and rage," he strikes out at it, but it bobs back at him. He strikes it again, crying out "in loathing," and this time the skull breaks in two. His knuckles are bruised from hitting it. He extracts the stick from the ground to use as a spear. The two halves of the skull have landed about two yards apart from each other, and now it seems like its evil grin is six feet wide.

Interestingly, the sow's head is compared to the conch. When Ralph first sees the skull, it is described as gleaming "as white as ever the conch had done." The sow's head has replaced the conch as the symbol of the boys' society, but it is a symbol of savagery, not of civilization. Although Ralph tries to destroy it, he doesn't pulverize it like Roger did the conch. Instead he only succeeds in making its grin huge, foreshadowing that Ralph will not be able to overcome the savagery of the other boys.

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Lord of the Flies

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