In Chapter 12 of "Lord of the Flies", why does Ralph tell the officer that only two had died, when at least three had?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I can think of two possible explanations for the way Ralph answered the Naval officer's question by saying only two had died, when at least three had.  First of all, the little 'un with the mark on his face disappears soon after the group arrives on the island, after the fire goes out of control.  Ralph never knew his name, and is only reminded of his presence when Piggy notices he is no longer there.  The little 'uns at that early juncture were not yet distinguishable as individuals to Ralph, and there had been no chance to make a list of who had survived the plane crash.  For all Ralph or any of the others knew, there might well have been others, who, like the little 'un with the mark on his face, were lost in the fire.  When the officer asks Ralph how many have been killed, his answer reflects only those of whose deaths he is sure.  I think it might be possible that, like Percival Wemys Madison, who can no longer remember his name at that point, Ralph, who has just run a race for his life, does not recall the details of what happened in the chaos of their first days on the island.

Another possibility for Ralph's answer might be that he is answering the second part of the officer's question rather than the first.  The officer says, "Nobody killed, I hope?  Any dead bodies?"  Ralph and the boys saw the bodies of Simon and Piggy, but the body of the lost little 'un was never found (Chapters 1 and 12).

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Lord of the Flies

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