In selecting passages from chapters of a novel that are significant, the student will want to seek those that reveal much about themes or character. In Chapter Seven of Lord of the Flies there is a growing tension between Ralph and Jack over the mantle of leadership which has been shifting back and forth, while in Chapter Eight the two key figures are Jack and Simon and the themes are the increasing evil and degeneracy of he boys into savagery.
Symbolic of the divide that increases between the manner of leadership between Ralph and Jack is the passage in which Ralph contemplates the vastness of the ocean that prohibits the boys' rescue. On the other side where the lagoon and mirages exist--Ralph's side, so to speak--there seems the possibility of rescue;however, on the other side where Jack and the others hunt, there is a cruel vastness:
On the other side of the island, swathed at midday with mirage...one might dream of rescue;but here, faced by the brute obtuseness of the ocean, the miles of division, one was clamped down, one was helpless, one wa condemned, one was---
As Ralph considers the futility of hoping for rescue, the intuitive Simon tells him, "You'll get back to where you came from." But, the despairing Ralph tells Simon curtly that he is crazy. "No, I'm not. I just think you'll get back all right." These words, of course, foreshadow Ralph's rescue.
Later, when a boar comes at Ralph, he remains calm, hurling his speak at the pig's nose, sending it for cover. After this incident with the boar, Ralph finds that he is excited by hunting,
Ralph was full of fright and apprehension and pride....He sunned himself in their new respect and felt that huning was good after all.
This passage indicates how easily it is for a civilized person to slip back into the atavistic nature of man. Now, Ralph vies for the attention of the boys just as Jack has done. However, when the boys dance around Robert in a mock ritual of killing a pig, Ralph thinks again. Later, he reminds Jack of the civilized world they have left behind, "Early evening. After tea-time, at any rate."
Then, when Jack states that the pig's tracks indicate that it has gone up the mountain, he suggests they track it even though it is near dusk. At this point, there is the conflict between Ralph and Jack for the mantle of leadership. Inexplicably, Roger follows Ralph up the trail, acting as a sinister force:
Green lights of nausea appeared for a moment and ate into the darkness. Roger lay behind him and Jack's mouth was at his ear....Roger bumped, fumbled with a hiss of breath, and passed onward.
In this chapter, the most significant action is the break of Jack and his followers from the group as he lays down the conch after seeking the leadership from Ralph, saying, "I'm not going to play any longer. Not with you." Simon again tries to ameliorate, by suggesting that there
"might be something to do....I think we ought to climb the mountain...What else is there to do?"
Of course, Jack and the hunters steal the fire, a significant action as it completes the divide between the two factions of boys, with the hunters becoming more and more savage.
Simon steals away and comes upon the head of the pig that Jack and the others have slain. Given to epilectic seizures, Simon feels one coming on and cannot move. With poetic prose that Golding reserves for only Simon's character, the Beast explains man's inherent evil to him,
"Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!" said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. "You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are the way they are?"