In Lord of the Flies, why is Ralph so upset with Jack and the hunters when they come back with their first kill?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 4, Ralph and Piggy see a ship on the horizon and look on top of the mountain to discover that their signal fire has gone out. They hoped that their signal fire would catch the attention of any passing ships. Jack and his hunters were supposed to be in charge of maintaining the signal fire, but they were out hunting pigs on the island. Shortly after the ship passes, Jack and his hunters return with their first dead pig. Despite the success of the hunters, Ralph is extremely upset at the fact that they let the signal fire go out. Ralph immediately accosts Jack and his hunters for neglecting their responsibilities. However, Jack and his hunters are too happy with their first kill to even listen to Ralph's complaints. After Ralph and Jack have a heated discussion, Jack accepts responsibility for letting the signal fire go out. Ralph is so upset with Jack because they missed a rare opportunity to be rescued when the hunters neglected their agreed-upon responsibilities. 

troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although they have brought back meat, they have let the fire (the signal fire) go out.  When Ralph, Piggy and Simon reach the mountain where the fire should be still smoking, the fire is completely out and they find that “a pile of unused fuel lay ready.” It's not that they didn't have anything to throw on the fire.  They just up and left it.  All of them.  No one stayed back to keep it going.  No one was responsible enough.

The main reason for Ralph's fury is because he saw a ship on the horizon.  If their signal was still going, they could have been seen and rescued. 

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Lord of the Flies

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