The Lord of the Flies
William Golding
Contributed by Karim Chandra
Chapter 8

When the boys return to the shelters, Ralph describes the “beast” the hunters saw on the mountain, but Piggy remains skeptical. Jack interjects and claims that the hunters will kill the beast, but Ralph responds that they are nothing but boys with sticks. His statement angers Jack, who convenes a meeting to vote Ralph out of power. However, the boys do not vote in Jack’s favor. He responds by announcing he will not be involved in their activities any longer before running away with his followers. Jack’s loss does not upset Piggy. In fact, Piggy argues that the boys can live without Jack and that a new signal fire should be lit on the beach. The remaining boys agree and start the fire. Afterward, Piggy and Ralph have a conversation in which they note that most of the boys left with Jack. Samneric and Piggy try to lighten the mood with a feast.

On the other side of the island, Jack informs his followers that they will focus on hunting instead of chasing the beast. During their first hunt after splitting off from Ralph’s group, they successfully trap a pig. The boys cheer when they see blood on Jack’s hands. However, they cannot cook the pig because they have no tools with which to start a fire. To solve this problem, Jack tells them they must use Piggy’s glasses. The boys mount the decapitated pig’s head on a stick and leave it in a clearing as a sacrifice to appease the beast.

Sometime later, Simon encounters the pig’s head while wandering through the jungle. He finds the head just as the hunters left it in the clearing, except now a swarm of flies surrounds it. Simon — possibly dehydrated and exhausted from his trek — believes this gruesome sight is the Lord of the Flies, which he hallucinates speaking to him. The Lord of the Flies tells Simon the other boys think he’s “batty” before calling itself the beast that lives within them all. Simon faints.


Ralph feels distraught by the fact that the boys do not prioritize survival and getting rescued. He worries about their negligence of the fire and shelters because he believes them to be their only hope for getting off the island. Moreover, he cannot understand why the other boys find Jack’s blend of aggression and arrogance so appealing that they abandon his camp. Ralph’s plight demonstrates a cruel reality of politics: good, thoughtful people who work hard for others do not necessarily win their hearts and minds. For better or worse, people tend to prefer tough and unforgiving leaders whose decisions cannot be easily influenced. When Ralph realizes he lacks these qualities, he struggles to accept his weaknesses.

Beneath Jack’s confidence and aggressiveness, though, is childishness. He cries after losing the vote, and flees from the camp, believing that he is a loser. He does not have the patience to impart a passionate appeal to the boys to convince them that he is worth their support. Interestingly, Jack’s failure gives him a new kind of liberation. He recovers from it by saying he will play the game by his own rules, dismissing any semblance of civility altogether. Failure, it seems, has the power to unleash evil and savagery.

 Simon's hallucination of the Lord of the Flies reveals the novel’s thematic focus on the tension between humanity and savagery. When the head says that it is part of Simon, it implies that evil lives within the hearts of all people. Ironically, Simon is perhaps the kindest boy on the island, yet the Lord of the Flies — a symbol of moral decay — reveals itself to him, as a part of him. When barbarism infects a society, not even its purest members are immune.

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