The horror of the reality of what the boys did to Simon is starting to sink in although the boys struggle to admit what happened. The loss of innocence, an important theme is apparent. Golding would have the reader believe it is a natural tendency towards savagery - ever present in everyone. Ralph does not recognizee the 'beast' within himself and therefore cannot understand
what he is fighting against. Ralph says,
I’m frightened. Of us..
He can feel his grasp of reality slipping and a descent into helplessness. He even lets them leave the tending of the fire, something that he knew was a symbol of hope and
allows them to let it go for the night. No one wants to look for wood in the dark anywayThe last vestiges of civilization disappear in this chapter
Jack is becoming firmly entrenched as leader but unlike Ralph,
Jack’s leadership involves intimidation and fear
Even Roger is beginning to realise the potential of Jack's irresponsible use of power and the possibility of using it for his own gains:
assimilating the possibilities of irresponsible authority. Then he joins the others.
He is more deliberate in his approach to chaos than Jack. Unlike Jack, who sees it as necessity, Roger views it as opportunity.
The central theme of the conflict between the competing impulses to, on the one hand, respect authority, act peacefully and behave morally and on the other to use violent means to suppress others and obtain supremacy is therefore, obvious and chaos is winning over order. Civilization versus savagery is expresssed under the larger banner of good versus evil.
The constant struggle between
reason and emotion
is becoming too much for the 'good' boys to handle. Power, when used for the better good and represented by the fire is a symbol of hope in the figurative darkness but
in the hands of those with less skill and knowledge, the fire becomes an agent of destruction— first unintentionally in the hands of those who are ignorant of its powers, then purposefully
when in this chapter Jack steals Piggy's glasses.
Refer to the eNotes study guide and navigate to the summaries and themes.