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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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What is the overall mood at Jack's feast in Lord Of The Flies?

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The boys are celebrating their successful return from the hunt. The mood at Jack's feast is one of happiness and excitement, but also that of a party where people are forced to act in a certain way simply because they are expected to. The ideas behind this come from the rituals and traditions that people have in their daily lives. This is something that Golding does not delve into very much, but he does show us that even though the island is a lawless society and there is no government or police, it still has its own set of rules. People have to act in a certain way or else they will be punished. The boys cannot eat until Ralph blows the conch shell which signals to them that they can begin.

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This was the first time since being on the island that the boys would be savouring meat, so one would expect that the mood would be one of excitement and joy. The overall mood was, however, tense and uncomfortable.

The reason for this was that in the process of hunting,...

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the signal fire had been forgotten and had died. A ship had passed by in the distance and would most likely have been drawn to the smoke, which meant rescue. WhenJack and the hunters returned with their bounty, Ralph, who was extremely upset, confronted him.

Ralph spoke. “You let the fire go out.”Jack checked, vaguely irritated by this irrelevance but too happy to let it worry him. “We can light the fire again. You should have been with us, Ralph. We had a smashing time. The twins got knocked over—”

Those who had gone on the hunt were enthralled by their experience and wanted to share, but Ralph would not allow it. When Jack started talking about the hunt, Jack reiterated what he had said earlier. He added:

“There was a ship. Out there. You said you’d keep the fire going and you let it out!”He took a step toward Jack, who turned and faced him. “They might have seen us. We might have gone home—”

Piggy soon joined the argument and the realisation that they could have been rescued dawned on the other boys. Some of the younger ones began to cry. Jack became indignantly upset when Piggy kept on nagging and he turned against him, hitting him in the stomach with his fist. He then smacked him on the head sending Piggy's glasses flying. One of the lenses was broken and Piggy cried out that he now had only one eye. Jack copied him and the hunters began to laugh. Jack scrambled up towards Piggy who was behind a rock, causing more laughter. Jack later apologized about the fire and earned the admiration of the boys for being such a gentleman and doing 'the decent thing.'

Once the fire had been made, the tension lifted somewhat but the general strain prevailed. The boys tried cooking the meat by using a stake over the fire but that did not work, so each boy took a chunk and skewered it onto a branch or stick to be roasted in the fire, also burning themselves in the process. Ralph and Piggy both dribbled and Jack gave Ralph a half cooked piece of meat into which he immediately sank his teeth. Piggy was not given anything and when he complained, Simon gave him his. Jack, who wanted to punish Piggy, was upset about this and cut off a chunk of meat which he threw to Simon, commanding him to eat.

Jack was clearly enraged and shouted that he had gotten them all meat, stressing:

“I painted my face—I stole up. Now you eat—all of you—and I—” Slowly the silence on the mountain-top deepened till the click of the fire and the soft hiss of roasting meat could be heard clearly. Jack looked round for understanding but found only respect. Ralph stood among the ashes of the signal fire, his hands full of meat, saying nothing.

Jack had gained the boys' respect, but no one spoke. The tension was still palpable.Maurice broke the silence when he asked questions about the hunt. Jack could not stand the idea of someone else telling his story and started talking about the hunt. Soon the other boys joined in and the mood changed. Maurice ran into centre pretending to be a pig and the boys started dancing and chanting:

“Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in.”

Ralph, who resented and envied their celebration, waited until they had stopped dancing and singing to announce that he was calling a meeting: 

“I’m calling an assembly.” One by one, they halted, and stood watching him. “With the conch. I’m calling a meeting even if we have to go on into the dark. Down on the platform. When I blow it. Now.” He turned away and walked off, down the mountain.

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