The Lord of the Flies
William Golding
Contributed by Karim Chandra
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Chapter 12
Summary

Although Ralph manages to escape from the boys, he sustains scrapes and bruises all over his body. He finds a hiding place near Castle Rock in the jungle and contemplates returning to repair relations with the others. However, he knows this might not work. As he walks around, pondering his next move, he encounters the Lord of the Flies and detaches the pig’s head from the spear. Then he decides to return to Castle Rock, where he sees Samneric, who have been given the role of guarding it. They advise him to run away, telling him he is not safe there.

They give him some meat before he flees back into the jungle.

The following day, Jack learns of Ralph’s encounter with the twins, beats them, and demands they show him where Ralph went. They have no choice but to direct the hunters accordingly, but Ralph, still nearby, hears this and flees before they can capture him. After looking for him all day with no success, the boys decide to start a forest fire to smoke Ralph out of his hiding spot.

When Ralph smells smoke, he runs through the jungle until he reaches an opening in the thicket. When one of the boys attempts to stop Ralph by standing in front him, he races past and disappears back into the forest until he finds another temporary hiding place. However, another boy finds him, but he escapes just in time. He staggers onto the beach where his camp used to be and encounters a naval officer just as the other boys catch up to him. The naval officer says he and his shipmates noticed smoke from the island and came to investigate. He admonishes the children for their poor behavior before rescuing them.

Analysis

The boys’ savagery is at its apex, leaving no chance for everything Ralph values — civility, order, and reason — to survive. Their bloodlust dominates as they hunt Ralph, and it is clear nothing will stop them from killing him. When brutality reaches its zenith, targets must embrace precautionary measures to survive. Ralph is no different: he prepares himself for the worst-case scenario by avoiding another confrontation with the boys. He runs because his life depends on it. Yet, human nature is full of vengeance, and Ralph experiences the desire to fight back. Given the opportunity, he would avenge his friend Piggy and save Samneric, but he cannot do so alone.

Ralph realizes that his attempts to bring harmony and order to the island are a lost cause. He wonders what could have led to the boy's decision to burn down the forest. However, he cannot receive an answer to his question because the level of civility needed to answer it no longer exists. The jungle becomes a lawless, wild place, where rules and order have fallen to chaos and disorder. Ralph cannot hope to survive another day if he fails to acknowledge and adapt to this reality. Ironically, the savage act of burning down the forest leads to the boys’ rescue. Although the boys had been physically separated from the adult world of armed conflict and warfare, this separation does nothing to alter their innate savagery. The novel ends with the boys escaping the island but not the evils of humanity.

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