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 Ralph's reaction to the pig's skull in Lord of the Flies?

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As Ralph is walking towards Jack's side of the island, he sees the pig's skull "grinning at him" from the top of a stick. He looks at the skull, which "gleamed as white as ever the conch had done and seemed to jeer at him cynically." The skull is likened to the conch, the shell that the boys once used to create order on the island. The conch is a symbol of order and civilization, but the skull, strangely also white, is a symbol of brutality and disorder. By this point of the novel, the fire the boys started in an attempt to be rescued has died out, and disorder reigns on the island.

Ralph's reaction to the skull is to think it's strangely alive. As he looks at the skull, "little prickles of sensation ran up and down his back." The skull seems to grin, and the eye sockets in the skull look back at him. He strikes at the skull in a fit of fear and anger, and the skull bobs back at him. He has hurt his knuckles striking at the skull, which now lies in two pieces on the ground. The skull seems to portend something bad, and Ralph fears and hates it.

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In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, after Jack has broken away from the main group led by Ralph to become the leader of a new tribe of boys, he decides that they must slaughter a pig. Afterwards, they put the head of the pig on a stick, acting as a sort of offering to what they think is an ape-like beast that has been stalking them on the island. 

A bit later in the book, after Piggy is killed and Ralph barely escapes from Jack's group with his life, Ralph must hide in the jungle. When Ralph finds the skull of the pig, which is the physical embodiment of the titular Lord of the Flies (meaning the devil), it "seemed to jeer at him cynically." Jack sees the skull of the pig as mocking him, "like one who knows all the answers and won't tell." He feels a "sick fear and rage" and breaks the skull into two pieces, taking the stick it was on to use as a spear. 

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What is Ralph's reaction when he encounters the pig skull?

He is frightened and angry, and he hits it, knocking it to the ground.

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