Summary: Chapter 11
The next morning, Ralph and his few companions try to light the fire in the cold air, but the attempt is hopeless without Piggy’s glasses. Piggy, squinting and barely able to see, suggests that Ralph hold a meeting to discuss their options. Ralph blows the conch shell, and the boys who have not gone to join Jack’s tribe assemble on the beach. They decide that their only choice is to travel to the Castle Rock to make Jack and his followers see reason.
Ralph decides to take the conch shell to the Castle Rock, hoping that it will remind Jack’s followers of his former authority. Once at Jack’s camp, however, Ralph’s group encounters armed guards. Ralph blows the conch shell, but the guards tell them to leave and throw stones at them, aiming to miss. Suddenly, Jack and a group of hunters emerge from the forest, dragging a dead pig. Jack and Ralph immediately face off. Jack commands Ralph to leave his camp, and Ralph demands that Jack return Piggy’s glasses. Jack attacks Ralph, and they fight. Ralph struggles to make Jack understand the importance of the signal fire to any hope the boys might have of ever being rescued, but Jack orders his hunters to capture Sam and Eric and tie them up. This sends Ralph into a fury, and he lunges at Jack.
Ralph and Jack fight for a second time. Piggy cries out shrilly, struggling to make himself heard over the brawl. As Piggy tries to speak, hoping to remind the group of the importance of rules and rescue, Roger shoves a massive rock down the mountainside. Ralph, who hears the rock falling, dives and dodges it. But the boulder strikes Piggy, shatters the conch shell he is holding, and knocks him off the mountainside to his death on the rocks below. Jack throws his spear at Ralph, and the other boys quickly join in. Ralph escapes into the jungle, and Roger and Jack begin to torture Sam and Eric, forcing them to submit to Jack’s authority and join his tribe.
Analysis: Chapter 11
In the chaos that ensues when Ralph’s and Jack’s camps come into direct conflict, two important symbols in the novel—the conch shell and the Lord of the Flies—are destroyed. Roger, the character least able to understand the civilizing impulse, crushes the conch shell as he looses the boulder and kills Piggy, the character least able to understand the savage impulse. As we see in the next chapter, Ralph, the boy most closely associated with civilization and order, destroys the Lord of the Flies, the governing totem of the dark impulses within each individual. With Piggy’s death and Sam and Eric’s forced conversion to Jack’s tribe, Ralph is left alone on the island, doomed to defeat by the forces of bloodlust and primal chaos.
Appropriately, Ralph’s defeat comes in the form of the hunt, which has been closely associated with the savage instinct throughout
Furthermore, the conflict between Ralph and Jack has often manifested itself as the conflict between the interests of the hunters and the interests of the rest of the group. In Chapter 3, for instance, the boys argue over whether Jack’s followers should be allowed to hunt or forced to build huts with Ralph and Simon. Now that Jack and the forces of savagery have risen to unchallenged prominence on the island, the hunt has thoroughly won out over the more peaceful civilizing instinct. Rather than successfully mitigate the power of the hunt with the rules and structures of civilization, Ralph becomes a victim of the savage forces the hunt represents—he has literally become the prey.