In Chapter Twelve as Ralph staggers to his feet after fleeing from the fire set by the savages to flush him from the brush, he sees a
white-topped cap...epaulettes, a revolver, a row of tilt buttons down the front of a uniform.
On the beach behind the naval officer is a warship that has in the stern-sheets a sub-machine gun. These symbols of war indicate the underlying bellicose nature of man, thus reinforcing the significance of the regression of Jack and Roger and the others to brutal, carnal savagery. So, despite the officer's suave appearance and demeanor and his civilized comment that perhaps the boys have been together "Like the Coral Island," there is "the trim cruiser in the distance," indicating that in the backdrop of his civility, there lies the brutality and savagery of war. Indeed, as the intuitive Simon has observed, the beast--"man's essential illiness"--is in man and is only controlled by the conditioning of society, a society that has only a tenuous grasp upon this evil.