In the opening paragraph of chapter 5, Golding describes Ralph walking alone on a narrow strip of beach while he contemplates the various points of his argument for the upcoming assembly. Golding writes,
He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one's waking life was spent watching one's feet.
Golding's quote depicts Ralph's new outlook on life and develops the theme of loss of innocence. The recent events on the island have opened Ralph's eyes to the reality of life, which is not a completely carefree, joyful experience. As a child growing up in Britain, Ralph was lighthearted, fun, and irresponsible. Since crash-landing on the tropical island, Ralph has been elected chief and given the task of establishing a civil society. Ralph finds his role extremely challenging as the boys become more in touch with their primitive, savage nature.
Ralph "understanding the wearisomeness of this life" highlights his loss of innocence and emphasizes the difficulty of his role as chief. Despite being an inexperienced adolescent, Ralph is learning how to deal with uncooperative individuals like Jack, rationalize the existence of the beast, and establish order in a foreign environment. Ralph also recognizes that a "considerable part of one's waking life was spent watching one's feet," which symbolically represents the boys' narrow-minded view of the world. For the majority of their lives, they have kept their heads down, only focusing on themselves without seeing the bigger picture. Ralph's ability to recognize this fact highlights his expanding perspective and maturation.
As Ralph continues to walk along the beach, he also recalls their "first enthusiastic exploration as though it were part of a brighter childhood." This quote also contributes to the developing theme of loss of innocence. In Ralph's mind, the happy, carefree days are a thing of the past and the harsh reality of their desperate situation is becoming apparent.