Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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What do Jack and the biguns decide to do about the beast? What does this say about human nature?

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In Chapter Eight, “Gift for the Darkness,” the boys are discussing the beast. Ralph says, “The beast had teeth and big black eyes.” He says they couldn’t fight it, not even Jack. Jack resents this and asks, “What about my hunters?” and blows the conch until his hunters have assembled, and he tries to get the group to overthrow Ralph. They won’t, and Jack leaves to start his own group. The biguns go with him.

Once he has his new group in front of him, they ask what to do about the beast and Jack says, “I say this. We aren’t going to bother about the beast. We’re going to forget the beast.”

The group is excited by this and Jack continues:

“But now I’m going to get more of the biguns away from the conch and all that. We’ll kill a pig and give a feast. And about the beast. When we kill we’ll leave some of the kill for it. Then it won’t bother us, maybe.”

They find the pigs and go after a sow nursing her piglets. They manage to send arrows into the sow and then they follow her as she tries to get away.

She blundered into a tree, forcing a spear still deeper; and after that any of the hunters could follow her easily by the drops of vivid blood. The afternoon wore on, hazy and dreadful with damp heat; the sow staggered her way ahead of them, bleeding and mad, and the hunters followed, wedded to her in lust, excited by the long chase and the dropped blood.

When she finally collapses “the hunters hurled themselves at her.”

They cut her up and put her head on a stick. They have become mad, the nature of their group has taken a dark turn. This is an example of how violence can come about in groups, even when individually each human doesn’t seem to have a violent nature. The mob mentality arises in this scene, the boys are feeding off of one another’s excitement and energy, they are convinced that what they are doing is okay because everyone else around them is doing it, too. Jack doesn’t seem so bad, his actions not cruel, because there is nobody to contrast him with. Human nature has a dark side, and a group can make this worse.

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In Chapter 6, Samneric run down from the mountain and tell the boys that they have just witnessed the beast. Ralph calls an assembly and Jack immediately comments that it will be a great hunt. Ralph thinks that Jack is being ridiculous about hunting an unknown beast with a group of boys armed with sticks, but Jack is determined to kill it. The boys eventually decide to explore the rocky, opposite end of the island first, then climb the mountain if they do not find the beast.

Jack and biguns' decision to hunt the unknown beast portrays humanity's insatiable curiosity and courage. Since the beginning of time, humans have been taking great risks to explore and discover the unknown. Their decision to hunt and kill the beast also demonstrates their primitive instincts. They immediately decide to hunt the beast because they feel threatened. The boys also enjoy hunting which is associated with bloodlust and savagery throughout the novel. Golding is suggesting that humans are inherently risk takers who act upon their primitive instincts.

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