Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis
Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 697
As the boys continue along their journey towards the mountain, Ralph stops to gaze at the ocean. He wonders how they will ever make it off the island, especially considering how the boys have slipped into undisciplined and wild behavior. Simon comforts Ralph by reassuring him that he will cross the seemingly impassable ocean and make it home.
The party happens upon pig droppings, prompting Jack to suggest they hunt the boar while also going after the beast. Ralph, who has never been on a hunt before, agrees as long as it’s on their way and quickly gets overtaken by the excitement of the chase. The boar charges at the group, causing the boys to scatter. Ralph is left alone in the animal’s path. Ralph throws his spear at the boar, hitting it in the snout and making it flee to the undergrowth. Although he does not kill the animal, Ralph is overwhelmed with the excitement of having hit the boar. Jack returns from the undergrowth with a gash on his arm, which he claims the boar gave him with its tusks.
Still exhilarated and frenzied after the hunt, the boys reenact their adventures among themselves, with Robert playing the role of the boar. They dance and chant as they jab at Robert with their spears. Soon, they forget that they are only playing a game. Robert is bloodied and in danger and tries to crawl away from the frenzied group of boys. They almost kill Robert before they remember themselves. When Robert says that they should use a real pig next time, Jack proposes a littlun instead. The boys laugh, caught off guard by Jack’s audacity, while Ralph tries to remind the group that it was only a game.
The boys continue their search, but night soon falls on the island. Ralph argues against approaching the beast at night, but is goaded into doing so by Jack and a desire to regain social standing among the group. While the rest of the boys return to camp, Roger, Ralph, and Jack continue their quest up the mountain in search of the beast. Ralph and Roger wait near the top while Jack summits alone, only to return shortly after, out of breath and claiming to have seen the beast. Ralph and Roger go up to see for themselves, finding a large humanoid creature making a loud flapping sound in the wind. Terrified, the three boys run back to the group.
This chapter provides deeper insights into several of the boys’ personalities and further illustrates the growing contrast between Ralph and Jack. Ralph, generally concerned with the more civilized aspects of life on the island (building huts and maintaining the signal fire), is unable to avoid the group’s bloodlust when he finally joins the hunt. He feels the excitement and frenzy and, for a moment, understands Jack’s violent tendencies. The scene implies that, however sophisticated and respectful one may seem, everyone has a predisposition for savagery.
The post-hunt game not only sheds light on the boys’ personalities but also gives great insight into the power struggle between Ralph and Jack. When Jack jokes about using a littlun in the place of a pig for the next ritual, the boys laugh, with Ralph being the only voice of reason amongst the group. This reaction indicates the group’s deteriorating sense of reality. The game is a victory for Jack because Ralph descends into a frenzy of violence, losing control and briefly shedding his principles of democracy and order. This experience shakes Ralph’s perception of order and community on the island, as he begins to get a glimpse into Jack’s worldview.
Jack also advances in his power struggle with Ralph by manipulating Ralph into acting recklessly and abandoning his usual level-headedness. Because the boys go up the mountain at night, they are unable to see the beast for what it truly is—a dead parachutist. Instead, they see the beast as the beast, which serves as the culmination of the rumors and fears that have persisted up to this point. Fear has altered the boys’ perception of reality, giving credence to illusions.