In Lord of the Flies, how do Ralph and Jack respond to the idea that there is a "beast" on the island?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Lord of the Flies, the initial feelings of "enchantment" and the confidence that Ralph's father, a Navy commander, will come and rescue the boys, is slowly overtaken by fear and feelings of dread as the shadows intensify the boys' paranoia and their belief in the existence of a "snake-thing," "a beastie." Ralph and Jack have two very different approaches which often conflict with each other. This causes confusion amongst the boys and weakens Ralph's position as the designated chief because Jack constantly undermines his authority, often showing little respect for the conch and what it represents.

In chapter two, the existence of a beast-like creature is first mentioned. With the conch in hand, Ralph is able to subdue the initial restlessness of the boys by explaining that what the "littlun" had was a nightmare because such creatures only exist on big islands or places like Africa or India. The boys look to Ralph, as chief, for reassurance that this beast will not return. Ralph is insistent that it will not return because there is no beast to begin with. Ralph is amused but also a little impatient and Jack, in support of Ralph, grabs the conch so he too can express his opinion.   

However, Jack's approach is different from Ralph's and this irritates Ralph because he feels that it prompts more questions than answers. Jack confirms that there is no beast but he adds that, if there were, hunting it would be an option and, of course, killing it. As Jack will be hunting pigs, he assures the boys that he could also hunt for the "snake too," just to be sure. Ralph tries to reaffirm his stand against the very existence of the beast. There is no response from the boys and Ralph changes the subject. Confidence is restored with talk of fire and rescue but still the boys are impulsive and chase off after Jack, a foreshadowing of what will follow. 

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Lord of the Flies

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