What takes place when Jack, Ralph, and Simon find a piglet caught in the bush in Lord of the Flies?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because the boys have only recently arrived on the island, when Simon, Ralph, and Jack encounter the piglet, they fail at their attempts to kill it.

As the boys gather together in their response to the conch, Ralph, having been voted leader, chooses Jack and Simon to help him explore the area and determine whether they are actually on an island. After climbing for a time, they discover a pink coral mountain and see that they are, indeed, on an island. Following their satisfying a temptation to roll boulders down the mountain, the boys see the tracks of an animal that they cannot yet identify. Ebullient as they descend the mountain, Ralph spreads his arms, crying out, "All ours."

As the threesome enter a thick forest, they hear squealing noises. Growing nearer, the boys hear the frenzy of a piglet caught in the "curtain of creepers." Jack draws his knife "with a flourish," but hesitates at this, his first attempt at killing: 

The pause was only long enough for them to understand what an enormity the downward stroke would be. (Ch.1)

In this short pause, the piglet manages to free itself and scurry into the undergrowth. The boys simply stare at each other; Jack's face is white beneath his freckles, the enormity of the act having overcome him. All three of the boys laugh nervously and "ashamedly." Then they climb back to the path.

This incident is the boys' first real experience of life in the wild. Because they are not yet adapted to this new environment, Ralph, Simon, and Jack pause as they stand between these two worlds. Resolved that "[N]ext time there would be no mercy," Jack shoves his knife into a tree trunk in a show of manliness as he dares the others to contradict him.

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Lord of the Flies

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