Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

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The following morning, Ralph, Piggy, and Samneric attempt to rekindle the signal fire. However, without Piggy’s glasses, their attempt is unsuccessful. Ralph blows the conch to assemble the boys who have not joined Jack’s tribe in order to discuss their remaining options. Their only option is to journey to Castle Rock to parlay with Jack and his followers. Ralph brings the conch shell along with them as a political tool, thinking that it will remind Jack and the others of his former authority.

However, when they arrive at Jack’s camp, they are met by armed guards who turn them away by throwing rocks at them. Ralph blows the conch shell to try and establish himself as chief once again. Jack and a group of hunters emerge from the woods, carrying with them the body of a pig. In a shouting match, Jack demands they leave the camp and Ralph demands the return of Piggy’s glasses. Jack and Ralph attack one another and begin to fight. Ralph tries to convince Jack and his group of the importance of the signal fire, but Jack responds by having Samneric—then cornered by Jack’s tribe—tied up. 

The two chiefs fight for a second time as Piggy shouts over the commotion of the brawl, trying to remind the group about the importance of order and rules. High above the fight, Roger dislodges a massive boulder, sending it flying down the mountainside. Ralph hears the rock coming and is able to dodge it. However, the boulder collides with Piggy, shattering the conch shell and sending Piggy to his death on the rocks below. There is momentary silence, but Jack soon throws his spear at Ralph. The other tribe members follow suit, forcing Ralph to flee into the jungle. 

Jack begins to torture Samneric, prodding them with his spear and asking why they have not joined his tribe. Roger pushes past Jack, taking over the torture and assuming an unspoken and violent authority.  


Chapter 11 is the last time that Ralph has any control on the island. He and Piggy make a final effort to reason with Jack for the return of Piggy’s glasses. However, Ralph quickly notices that Jack is barely recognizable; his mask of paint reveals his true, savage character. The other boys have accepted Jack’s authority and painted their own bodies as well. Roger, notably, has found the freedom to express his violent urges under Jack's leadership, delighting in killing Piggy and torturing Samneric.

The chaos of chapter 11 represents the clash of two contradicting philosophies: the civilization of Ralph versus the savagery of Jack. The conflicts between Ralph and Jack come to a head when the two boys raise arguments from their inherently opposed perspectives on how to survive on the island. Jack is still upset with Ralph’s dismissal of the beast and stays true to his militaristic beliefs. He unites the tribe around a doctrine of violent self-gratification and, above all else, a fear of the mythical beast. Ralph, on the other hand, focuses on cooperative action and criticizes Jack’s hatred of rules and order. 

The destruction of the conch shell and the death of Piggy are both momentous events in the regression towards tribalistic chaos. The conch is a symbol of social order, democracy, and reason. For the conch to be pulverized into dust marks the death of those values among the boys. Likewise, Piggy, for all his unpopularity, stands as the boy most dedicated to reason and to the goal of returning to civilization. Piggy’s death represents a major blow to the cause of reasoned cooperation. It is fitting that both the conch and Piggy are destroyed in the same instance, for their purposes and fates are intertwined.

Piggy becomes the second martyr of the novel, after Simon. Simon represents the spiritual and creative side of civilization, whereas Piggy symbolizes the intellectual and logical side. One important point of contrast between the two deaths is the premeditated nature of Piggy’s murder, which indicates a willful regression into savagery, whereas Simon’s death was mostly accidental. 

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