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Chapter Five is significant because we see the first serious cracks emerge in the fragile society that the boys have begun to create on the island. Jack's exuberance for hunting sees the fire neglected and a missed opportunity for rescue. Ralph is furious and decides that the time has come to call a meeting where he will put this and other matters right. Unfortunately, he fails dismally and the malevolent Jack emerges the stronger of the two.
Ralph's ineffectual leadership becomes apparent at the meeting. His proclamation of new rules is largely met with howls of derision which he seems powerless to control. He also makes a classical leader's mistake of not being able to control the agenda of the meeting. It shifts into heated debate about the possible existence of a 'beast' on the island, and Ralph's ineffectual responses further erode his position. In contrast Jack has become increasingly emboldened by his hunting success and correspondingly contemptuous of Ralph's leadership; his rejection of the rules gives the reader glimpses into how a society could slide into anarchy if an overarching authority is absent or crumbles,
"The rules!" shouted Ralph, "you're breaking the rules!"
Ralph summoned his wits.
"Because the rules are the only thing we've got!"
But Jack was shouting against him.
"Bollocks to the rules! We're strong - we hunt! If there's a beast, we'll hunt it down! We'll close in and beat and beat and beat-" (p.114)
We can see here an emerging theme of society being a veneer, that in the absence of laws, criteria and an arm of restraint there is nothing to stop a kind of perverse Darwinian survival of the fittest. The early, youthful enthusiasm Jack and his hunters possessed gives over to a kind of primeval abandonment of civility, and the reader can sense the entire group may be heading towards a dark abyss they cannot escape.
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