How does Ralph react to the first hunt in which he takes part? What game do the boys play after the hunt in Lord of the Flies?

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In chapter 7, Ralph partakes of his first hunt.  The boys encounter a boar and Ralph hits it with his spear but does not kill or even stop the pig.  Ralph is exhilarated that he hit the pig and repeatedly tells the boys that he hit it.  He feels the thrill of the hunt and he wants the others to know that he has contributed, or at least tried to contribute, to the well-being of the boys.  He has felt frustration because the boys haven't built good huts and hut-building was his command.  The hunters have been successful and have provided meat already, so Ralph wants to feel like he is bringing something to the boys as well.  Jack manages to get hurt by the boar which makes him the focus of the boys' attention thus taking attention away from Ralph in his self-perceived moment of glory.  The game that the boys play is to mimic hunting and finding a pig, using one of the littluns as the pig.  They become so stirred-up by their play that they become vicious in their attacks against the boy pretending to be the pig and nearly inflict serious and life-threatening harm to him.  This is foreshadowing for what happens later with Simon and it shows the inner savagery of the boys and how far they have fallen from civilization.

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andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The boys had decided to go to the tail-end of the island, where nobody had yet been, to find the beast. It was during this venture that the decision was made to hunt. Roger had discovered fresh pig dung which was still steaming. Jack told Ralph that even though they were hunting 'the other thing,' they still needed meat. Ralph agreed that they would hunt if it meant that they were going the right way.

Soon the boys were screaming and running down the pig track, obviously frightened. Jack was nudged aside and Ralph saw a boar rushing towards him, its tusks gleaming. He took deliberate aim and threw his stick spear at the boar, hitting its large snout. The spear stuck for a moment and then fell. The pig then veered into a covert. Jack came back and instructed the boys to go after it. They ran after the boar and Ralph, who was simultaneously afraid, anxious and proud, shouted that he had struck the bear on its snout.

Ralph was obviously mightily impressed by this achievement and was intent on letting the others know about it. He repeated the claim and asked if anyone had seen. Maurice supported him by stating that he saw Ralph's spear hit the boar right on the snout. Ralph was excited and spoke hurriedly, exclaiming his success:

“I hit him all right. The spear stuck in. I wounded him!”

His repeated reference to what had happened indicates that Ralph was overwhelmed by the idea of having actually struck a live animal. He had gained the admiration of the other boys and felt that 'hunting was good after all.'

Ralph's celebration and proud boast was interrupted, however, when Jack scolded him for not waiting. The momentous moment passed when Jack indicated an injury on his arm, sustained when he got close to the boar and tried killing it. The boys instantly forgot about Ralph and turned their attention to Jack. So it was that Ralph's moment of glory was superseded by Jack's greater act. Ralph was indignant and tried, in vain, to draw attention to his great deed and Robert mocked him by snarling at him as if he were the boar. Ralph, unperturbed, made a game of it and played along.

The two boys' actions encouraged the others, who were obviously keen to hunt, to join in and so they started playing a hunt game when Jack urged them to form a ring with Robert in the centre, playing the boar. The boys actually hurt him. Even Ralph, inspired by his previous actions, joined in and jabbed at Robert with Eric's spear. The boys started chanting, 'Kill him! Kill Him!' and Robert was in a frenzy for he was being hurt. The boys acted as if they were in a real hunt. Roger, driven by his lust to hurt, fought to join in the frenzy for the boys were now chanting ritually,

“Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!”

Ralph was overwhelmed by the event. He desperately tried to get close, wanting to get hold of Robert and hurt him. The desire was uncontrollable. The game culminated in Jack acting as if he had just killed their prey and the boys making pig-dying sounds.

This event foreshadows what happens later, in chapter 9, when Simon stumbles out of the forest during a thunderstorm. The boys were on the beach playing the same game with Roger assuming the role of the pig. The boys were repeatedly chanting and when Simon stumbled into the centre of the horseshoe they had formed, they assumed that he was the beast and attacked him. They became ferocious predators, hitting, biting and tearing.

Even Ralph and Piggy joined in the frenzy. The boys all succeeded in killing Simon whose body was later washed away by the current.

These two incidents illustrate the powerful, instinctual desire innate in everyone - to kill and maim. Even those who are not aware thereof, such as Ralph and Piggy, are driven to commit terrible acts of violence and savagery when the conditions are right. In this regard, it is a mob mentality in which the individual becomes immersed and is lost.

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