Lord of the Flies Questions and Answers
by William Golding

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In Ch. 12 of Lord of the Flies, Ralph says "It was an accident."  Compare to Ch. 10 when Piggy said the same.  What is Ralph referring to? Why?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In chapter 10, Ralph brings up the fact that he and Piggy participated in Simon's brutal death, and Piggy responds by saying,

"It was an accident . . . that's what it was. An accident." (Golding, 122)

Piggy claims that Simon's death was an accident to justify his actions and to calm himself. Instead of dealing with the harsh reality of the situation, Piggy attempts to shift the blame and distance himself by claiming that it was an accident. As a civil, innocent individual, Piggy refuses to accept the dark truth and would rather view Simon's death as accidental.

In chapter 12, Ralph thinks about his difficult situation after Piggy and Simon's deaths and realizes that he is in serious danger. Ralph begins to panic and instinctively cries aloud. In an attempt to calm his nerves, Ralph says,

"No. They're not as bad as that. It was an accident." (Golding, 144)

Similar to Piggy, who claims that Simon's death was an accident, Ralph also says the same thing to ease his mind. Rather than accept the fact that he is alone on an island with a bunch of bloodthirsty savages, Ralph calms himself by claiming that Piggy and Simon's deaths were accidents. Essentially, both boys use excuses to hide the dark truth and protect their fragile emotions.

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danylyshen eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The complete quotation is "No. They're not as bad as that. It was an accident" (204). Ralph is referring to the group of hunters as "they" and is wrestling with the savagery and descent into darkness the hunters have sunk to. The pig's head is more symbolic and starts to twitch and move when the flies completely encompass it. The pig's head is a symbol for the darkness and savagery of the hunters. Ralph is trying to wrap his mind around the murders of Piggy and Simon. he's trying to figure out how and why the hunters were capable of such beastly acts. He's also thinking in terms of his self preservation. Would they be capable of doing the same to him? Ralph is trying to persuade himself that there's still some goodness and compassion in Jack and the hunters. There probably isn't.

In chapter ten Piggy wrestles with the murder of Simon and tries to explain it off as an "accident." Ralph says, "that was murder," yet Piggy tries to justify the "accident" by saying Simon shouldn't have crept up in the darkness like he did.

At that point Ralph knows it was wrong and murder, but it is not until chapter twelve when his psyche tries to process it.

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