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This quote from chapter 8 demonstrates that courage is a transient thing for the boys, and depends on circumstances.
The book depicts a group of boys isolated on a deserted island by a plane crash with no adults. They have to find their own way, and they begin to recognize the danger lurking among them. It is a metaphorical danger, but it manifests itself in the symbolic danger of the beast.
The boys are concerned with the beast even though they are not sure what it is. It is a manifestation of their fear and insecurity. They can feel it closing in on them.
“As long as there’s light we’re brave enough. But then? And now that thing squats by the fire as though it didn’t want us to be rescued—” (ch 8)
By now, the breakdown of society is almost complete. The boys are breaking into two camps and are acting like heathens, right down to war paint and dances around the fire. There is plenty to be afraid of, but the danger lurks in their own hearts.
Courage is revealed when a person does something that usually makes him or her afraid but which he knows will serve a greater purpose and so he does it anyway. In Lord of the Flies, there are various displays of courage. Courage is shown by Piggy when he realizes that Ralph needs his help in making rational decisions. Piggy is afraid of Jack but still tries to stand up to him, even if it is the conch that makes him feel brave. Just before he dies, Piggy makes a valiant attempt to get his glasses back and to try and restore order- "to have rules and agree" (ch 11). Even though the other boys often belittle him and snigger at him, he tries to stand his ground, with tragic consequences.
Ralph is courageous in accepting the role of chief and even though he questions his abilities later, he still tries to keep order. Ralph consistently reminds the boys that shelter is important, water is needed and a fire for rescue is crucial even though this makes him unpopular sometimes. When Jack tries to take over, Ralph reminds Jack that he is chief, even though he is in territory which Jack has claimed. This also shows his tenacity and reveals his courage. Even at the end, Ralph accepts responsibility and makes the ultimate display of courage when the naval officer asks who the "boss" is and Ralph does not hesitate in volunteering himself. Jack makes no such show of courage or offer to share the blame for what may have taken place on the island in the absence of "grown ups" and he stays quiet.
Simon is courageous and faces his fears when he confirms that the beast is not real. It is just a "pig's head on a stick" (ch 8). Simon wants to warn the others and "walked with a sort of glum determination..." (ch 9). His efforts will cost him his life.
A quote that expresses the courage that all three boys display is found in chapter 5 when Ralph is preparing for the evening assembly:
He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching one’s feet...There must be no mistake...no chasing imaginary..."
Ralph has realized how difficult it is keeping order and yet he forges on, doing his best and showing a strength of character and an understanding that "you had to be wise..."
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