In Lord of the Flies, how does Ralph react to hearing about the pig hunt in chapter 4?
Understandably, Ralph is really annoyed to find out that all the boys have been hunting pigs when they should have been looking after the fire and in fact let it go out at a crucial time when a ship was passing that could have saved the boys. Even Jack's joyous and frenzied declaration that he has killed a pig and enjoyed it immensely is dampened with this realisation. Ralph is therefore incredibly frustrated and annoyed that he, as chief of the boys, gave an order that was not obeyed:
You and your blood, Jack Merridew! You and your hunting! We might have gone home... I was chief, and you were going to do what I said. You talk. But you can't even build huts--then you go off hunting and let out the fire-
It is interesting how this confrontation between Jack and Ralph actually presents us with a confrontation between two different points of view, between savagery and rational thought, or, in the words of Golding, between the "brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill" and then the world of "longing and baffled common-sense." This is a divide that only is heightened as the novel goes on and Ralph tries desperately to hang on to his reason and not to give in to his primal hunting instincts.
Ralph is forced to grow up much too quickly. As the promise of rescue fades away into the distance, Ralph is left standing between two worlds. With the violent ecstasy of the hunt, the promise of meat fulfilled, Ralph is left defending his signal fire. It is difficult to defend a concept (signal fire=rescue....perhaps) against the promise and fulfillment of something real. Ralph sees that Jack has delivered the exhilaration of murder and the quenching of hunger to the boys. How can Ralph compete with this? Ralph is mortified by the loss of potential rescue but his attempt to chastise Jack and the hunters seems feeble. Although the boys are upset about not being rescued, they soon forget it all; the intoxication of the feast is all too consuming. Despite Ralph's opposition to the hunts, his participation in the feast destroys his credibility. Ralph is human, he must eat. The act of eating symbolically undermines any arguments he might have about the hunt forever more.