In Lord of the Flies, chapter 3, what quotes demonstrate how the boys have lost their innocence? 

In Lord of the Flies, chapter three, one quote that demonstrates how the boys have lost their innocence comes when Jack says, “You can feel as if you’re not hunting, but—being hunted, as if something’s behind you all the time in the jungle.” This shows the island no longer feels like a paradise but a place of danger.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Lord of the Flies, quotes in chapter 3 that demonstrate how the boys have lost their innocence include a comparison to Jack as an ape, which makes him seem savage and animalistic, traits that the reader understands will emerge as the novel progresses:

And for a minute, he became less a hunter than a furtive thing, ape-like among the tangle of trees.

Moreover, it is too early in the book for Ralph to have a full understanding of the internal savagery that Jack and his hunters unleash, but at this point he has begun to understand the mechanics of trying to govern an unwilling group of boys. He has come to recognize the political frustration that his elders back in England probably often felt, saying,

Meetings. Don’t we love meetings? Every day. Twice a day. We talk.

The implication is that the talk rarely leads to change or action, and Ralph is beginning to get frustrated. He has lost his political innocence. Ralph is upset because so few boys are willing to help construct the shelters and other essentials that the boys need to survive until they are rescued. Jack feels that he and his hunters do not need to help with anything other than finding meat to feed them. While this antagonism between the two boys represents the power struggle between them, it also shows underlying divisions that are present back home among people who prioritize one thing over another and cannot or will not willingly try to understand why another group places priorities on different things.

Ralph is beginning to resent how much of the unpleasant workload falls on his shoulders. When Jack points out that he and the hunters will provide a much needed service by getting food for the boys, Ralph says to Jack,

“But you like it!” shouted Ralph. “You want to hunt.”

Ralph understands that Jack does as he pleases while Ralph undertakes the work, even though he does not enjoy it, because he is toiling for the good of the entire community. In this way, Ralph is civic minded, while Jack is only serving his own growing lust for violence and hunt. Ralph has lost his innocence regarding human nature.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Two quotes that illustrate how the boys have begun to lose their innocence in chapter three are the following:

There’s nothing in it of course. Just a feeling. But you can feel as if you’re not hunting, but—being hunted, as if something’s behind you all the time in the jungle.

In this quote, Jack is speaking. His sense of unease in the jungle shows he is shedding his innocence. The island no longer seems simply to be a tropical paradise. Jack is beginning to feel he is in a predatory place.

Later, in a sentiment that will repeated, Jack shows a lust for killing a pig. This lust is described with the word madness, suggesting that Jack's obsession with hunting is not entirely rational:

The madness came into his eyes again.

“I thought I might—kill.”

Jack hasn't killed yet, but it is clear he soon will. He is shedding his inhibitions and the trappings of civilization and reverting back to a more primitive self. He is losing his innocence in the sense that he is realizing he has the power not to conform to the social norms and moral codes that have so far dictated the limits of his behavior.

Ralph is getting restive and impatient as well. His loss of innocence manifests as disillusion with the fire, which he doesn't think is putting out enough smoke to attract a rescue ship, and with the lack of contribution from the others, who would rather swim and play than work. Ralph will find it increasingly difficult to hold the group of boys together according to civilized norms.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Some examples of the loss of innocence at this point are Jack’s insistence on killing a pig and Ralph's inability to get anything accomplished. 

Jack wants to kill the pig, and it is more important than anything.  He is not interested in building shelters, and fights with Ralph about what is more important.  He also does not seem to care about being rescued.  He just wants to kill something.  It is not just about the meat. 

“Rescue? Yes, of course! All the same, I’d like to catch a pig first—” He snatched up his spear and dashed it into the ground. The opaque, mad look came into his eyes again. Ralph looked at him critically through his tangle of fair hair. (Ch. 3) 

The childishness of the fun of being alone on the island with no adults has also worn off.  The boys are unable to create a stable organization and get anything done.  They have not hunted and gotten meat.  They can’t get the shelters built.  

“All the rest rushed off. He’s done as much as I have. Only—”

Simon’s always about.”

Ralph stared back to the shelters with Jack by his side.

“Do a bit for you,” muttered Jack, “before I have a bathe.”

“Don’t bother.” (Ch. 3) 

Arguing is common.  Jack and Ralph, the two leaders, are at odds.  Jack wants to lead the hunt, and in fact has been assigned to do so.  Ralph chose him for that because he knew it was something he would agree to.  Ralph is failing as a leader though.  There is not enough power in the conch to extend beyond getting people to listen at the meeting.  The little kids are afraid there is a Beastie on the island.  Simon does in fact go off on his own, having his semi-religious experiences in the jungle deep inside of the island.


Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial