What is a specific example of how William Golding built suspense in Chapter 8 in Lord of the Flies?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Golding builds suspense by having the boys fight over the beast, showing that they are afraid and their civilization is breaking down.

Suspense is excitement felt by the reader that something is going to happen.  It is created by authors when they describe interesting events or foreshadow events that will be important later.

Golding builds suspense in Chapter 8 because the boys are faced with dealing with the beast, but they do not know what it is or how to fight it.  The reader knows that the beast is not real, but the boys do not.  So the reader is not sure how the boys will react, but knows that the boys are afraid and is uncertain how they will react to the coming threat from within.  The beast represents their uncertainty and growing paranoia.

He remembered the panic flight down the mountainside. “I don’t think we’d ever fight a thing that size, honestly, you know. We’d talk but we wouldn’t fight a tiger. We’d hide. Even Jack ’ud hide.” (Ch. 8)

When Ralph dismisses Jack’s hunters as “Boys armed with sticks” it foreshadows the rift between them, further building suspense.  The boys are in over their heads, and the uneasy truce between them is ending due to their fear over what to do about the beast.

The beast represents the unknown, an adult world on the island that the boys are not ready for.  The “beast” that the twins Samneric actually saw was an adult, a dead paratrooper.  Ralph is concerned with not letting the fire out, not just because he thinks that it is their only hope of getting rescued, but also because he feels that the beast will not come near the light.

Jack’s meeting, where he challenges Ralph as not a “proper chief” is the beginning of the end of stability on the island.  Again, Golding is building suspense for the reader as things get more and more chaotic for the boys.  The uneasy truce between Jack and Ralph is breaking down, as is Ralph’s tenuous hold over leadership and Jack.  The schism between Jack and Ralph tears the boys apart and leads to further destruction.

“Hunting,” said Jack. He remembered his age-old tremors in the forest.  “Yes. The beast is a hunter. Only— shut up! The next thing is that we couldn’t kill it. And the next is that Ralph said my hunters are no good.” (Ch. 8)

The boys have reached a turning point.  The suspense comes both from the reader's concerns about the beast, and how the boys are going to react to it, and the worry about the boys' civilization breaking down.  In fact, these events foreshadow trouble, as the boys are headed for death and destruction when they discover that the beast is real.  It is inside them!

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Lord of the Flies

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