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Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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What is a significant quote from chapter 7 of William Golding's Lord of the Flies that critically reveals a character's personality or the theme/message?

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Chapter seven of Lord of the Flies by William Golding is significant in several ways. First, it demonstrates how little attention any of the boys pay to Ralph. Though he is involved in the pig hunt and actually draws blood from the animal, no one credits him with this act of bravery. This is an obvious demonstration of Ralph's ineffectiveness as a leader.

Second, Simon can tell that Ralph is quite worried about never getting rescued from the island, and he assures Ralph that Ralph will "get back all right." It is an odd thing to say and an even odder thing to believe, yet when Simon says it, it has the ring of truth to it and Ralph begins to believe it.

Third, Ralph finally realizes what Piggy has known all along: Jack hates Ralph. Ralph asks Jack why he hates Ralph, but Jack has no answer, nor does Ralph need one. It is a useful thing for Ralph to know as the story continues.

The most significant event in this chapter happens when the boys stage a mock pig killing. Jack incites this impromptu moment, and Robert quickly finds himself in the middle of a ring of chanting boys, all poking at him with their hunting sticks. It is a painful experience for Robert, but the boys make light of it after the incident. Ralph is uneasy but joins the jocular atmosphere. They discuss how to do it better next time. 

“You want a pig,” said Roger, “like a real hunt.”
“Or someone to pretend,” said Jack. “You could get someone to dress up as a pig and then he could act—you know, pretend to knock me over and all that.”
“You want a real pig,” said Robert, still caressing his rump, “because you’ve got to kill him.”
“Use a littlun,” said Jack, and everybody laughed.

Though Jack's final line in that conversation seems lighthearted, it is a chilling moment of foreboding. Jack has just "experimented" with a human pig, and now he cruelly suggests using one of the little boys right after the comment that next time someone will have to be killed.

Just as disturbing, if not more so, is the fact that Ralph, who does not have Jack's thirst for violence and killing, was caught up in the mock killing and actually took a few jabs at Robert. This demonstrates Golding's thesis that human nature, at the core, tends toward violence when there is nothing (like rules or civilized behavior) to restrain it. 

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