What does Ralph do when the boys start to play by putting Robert in the circle as the pig in William Golding's Lord of the Flies?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter seven of Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, Ralph and Simon have joined Jack and the hunters on the mountain for a pig hunt. For the first time, Ralph joins in the hunt and experiences some of the thrill which Jack always gets from hunting a living thing. In fact, Ralph wounds the animal with his spear and then wants to relive the moment.

In fun, Ralph pushes Robert and takes a half-hearted jab at him with his spear, as if her were a pig during a hunt. Soon a few others join in and then Jack calls everyone to circle around the pig (Robert).

It is a rather frightening thing to see Ralph join in this game which quickly becomes more deadly. As the boys pin Robert down,  

Ralph, carried away by a sudden thick excitement, grabbed Eric’s spear and jabbed at Robert with it. “Kill him! Kill him!”All at once, Robert was screaming and struggling with the strength of frenzy. Jack had him by the hair and was brandishing his knife. Behind him was Roger, fighting to get close. The chant rose ritually, as at the last moment of a dance or a hunt.

“Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!”
Ralph too was fighting to get near, to get a handful of that brown, vulnerable flesh. The desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering.

This is the first time Ralph has acted like a savage, like Jack, and of course it is a foreshadowing of further savagery in which Ralph will participate (Simon's death). Once the circle breaks apart and Robert is once again free, Ralph is slightly embarrassed but does not apologize. “'Just a game,' said Ralph uneasily."

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Lord of the Flies

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