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In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Jack catches a piglet tangled in vines in a scene from the first chapter. When the piglet wiggles free and escapes, Jack does not want to be thought of as being weak or indecisive; the opinions of the other boys matter to him immensely. He must save face by explaining himself:
"I was choosing a place," said Jack. "I was just waiting for a moment to decide where to stab him."
You should stick a pig," said Ralph fiercely. "They always talk about sticking a pig."
"You cut a pig's throat to let the blood out," said Jack, "otherwise you can't eat the meat."
"Why didn't you - ?"
They knew very well why he hadn't: because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood. (Ch. 1)
The bottom line is that all three boys feel squeamish about the thought of killing, and particularly of the blood. Golding uses the word “enormity” in this quote to capture the importance of the boy’s taboo against killing; they know that they will eventually have to hunt to survive, but the aftermath of the blood is an unattractive prospect. The blood makes the killing more real and less like a game.
Jack's inability to kill the blood of the piglet caught in the creepers indicates that, at this time, the vestiges of civilization are still stronger than the innate savagery in him.
As Ralph, Simon, and Jack explore the island in Chapter One, they happen upon an area that is covered with dark bushes with aromatic little buds. As they push farther into the forest, the boys hear the striking of hard hoofs and the squeals of a piglet who has become caught in the "curtain of creepers." The piglet writhes and hurls itself in terror, as it feels threatened by its entrapment. Jack rushes forward with the other boys and draws his knife "with a flourish," then pauses.
The pause was only long enough for them to understand what an enormity the downward stroke would be. (Chapter One, p. 23)
This pause later embarrasses Jack, who turns white from fear as he realizes the enormity of killing a living creature and spilling its blood.
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