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 are some important quotes and their meanings in chapter 3 of Lord of the Flies?

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The following quotes are all from chapter 3 of Golding's The Lord of the Flies.

His sandy hair, considerably longer than it had been when they dropped in, was lighter now; and his bare back was a mass of dark freckles and peeling sunburn.

This description of Jack creates an image of a boy who is in the process of succumbing to the natural elements that surround him. The relentless sun has bleached his hair and damaged his skin, and both of these effects of the strong sun represent the powerful effect of nature and the island environment on Jack. As well, the passage of time is observed in the growing length of his hair.

He tried to convey the compulsion to track down and kill that was swallowing him up.

"I went on. I thought, by myself—"

The madness came into his eyes again.

Jack's primitive instincts are beginning to take over his rational mind, as evidenced by his obsession with hunting and killing a pig for meat. In this passage, Jack is talking with Ralph, who continues to be able to maintain a firm grasp on his reason, unlike Jack. During this conversation, Ralph challenges Jack's primitive impulse to abandon all attempts at saving themselves in the pursuit of killing; though Ralph is unable to deter Jack, the reader is able to observe the growing chasm between the two boys and the expectations they have around the survival effort.

Evening was advancing toward the island; the sounds of the bright fantastic birds, the bee-sounds, even the crying of the gulls that were returning to their roosts among the square rocks, were fainter. The deep sea breaking miles away on the reef made an undertone less perceptible than the susurration of the blood.

In this passage, Golding employs vivid imagery to bring the island experience to life for the reader. The night time "advances" like a military force, and the sounds of the island are varied as daytime transitions to evening. The mention of blood in comparison to the sound of the sea is threatening, foreshadowing violence that already exists in Jack's imagination.

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After Ralph mentions that the best thing they can do is get rescued, Jack hesitates to respond, and Golding writes,

Jack had to think for a moment before he could remember what rescue was. (73)

Jack's hesitation and the fact that he has forgotten the boys's primary goals are both significant and reveal his mindset: Jack's obsession with hunting and killing a pig has completely consumed his mind, and he no longer desires to be rescued.

When Jack interrupts their conversation by yelling and pointing towards the mountain, Ralph initially thinks that Jack has witnessed a ship passing the island. Ralph becomes excited and is upset when Jack mentions that he has discovered where the pigs were located during the day. Ralph expresses his displeasure and frustration with Jack by saying,

Don’t you want to be rescued? All you can talk about is pig, pig, pig! (75)

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Don’t you want to be rescued? All you can talk about is pig, pig, pig! (75)

Ralph and Jack proceed to argue over the need for shelters and the desire to hunt and kill pigs. Ralph cannot seem to persuade Jack to focus more on being rescued and contribute to establishing a civilized society, while Jack cannot convince Ralph to embrace hunting and forget working so hard. The boys have significantly different motivations, and Golding utilizes a powerful metaphor to express their different opinions and beliefs:

They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling, unable to communicate. (76)

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Quote #1:

"Meetings.  Don't we all love meetings?  Every day. Twice a day.  We talk."  He got on one elbow.  "I bet if I blew the conch this minute, they'd come running.  Then we'd be, you know, very solemn, and someone would say we ought to build a jet, or a submarine, or a TV set.  When the meeting was over they'd work for five minutes, then wander off or go hunting" (51).

This quote reveal's Ralph's frustration at the lack of success of his own leadership.  He acknowledges the fun of having the meetings, but also recognizes their futility.  Ralph begins to realize that he has no real means of enforcing the rules or directions on the island. 

Quote #2:

"Have you been awake at night?"

Jack shook his head.

"They talk and scream.  The littluns. Even some of the others.  As if--"

"As if it wasn't a good island."

Astonished at the interruption, they looked up at Simon's serious face. 

"As if," said Simon, "the beastie, the beastie or the snake thing was real.  Remember?" (52)

This conversation between Jack, Ralph, and Simon reinforces the idea of the Beast on the island as a threat to the boys' safety.  Simon ponders the possibility that "it wasn't a good island," the beginning of his belief that perhaps the real source of danger on the island was the boys themselves.

Quote #3:

"I was talking about smoke! Don't you want to be rescued?  All you can talk about is pig, pig, pig!" (54)

Ralph says this accusingly to Jack.  This quote reveals the growing rift between the two boys' priorities on the island, designating Ralph as the responsible one and Jack as being carefree and self-gratifying.  This division between the two boys over maintaining the fire versus hunting will become one of the central conflicts of the novel, eventually splitting all of the boys into opposite camps.

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