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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Lord of the Flies by William Golding-Free Summary
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CHAPTER THREE

Jack practices stalking a pig and Ralph tries to build shelters; Simon goes off into the jungle to meditate.

Jack is alone in the jungle. Notice the description of his surroundings: "The silence of the forest was more oppressive than the heat, and at this hour of the day there was not even the whine of insects. Only when Jack himself roused a gaudy bird from a primitive nest of sticks was the silence shattered and echoes set ringing by a harsh cry that seemed to come out of the abyss of ages." The jungle is threatening; it is a metaphor for what is dark, dangerous, and wild in someone's mind. Jack is learning to be comfortable where most of us would be lost.

In the same passage, Jack is said to be "dog-like, uncomfortably on all fours yet unheeding his discomfort." He closes his eyes and raises his head, breathing in "gently with flared nostrils, assessing the current of warm air for information."

Golding's description of Jack is filled with animal references. Jack is acquiring the dangerous and threatening ways of the jungle. He is learning to hunt like an animal by depending on his senses of smell, sight, sound, and movement. Sniffing the warm, steamy pig droppings, Jack becomes more primitive and dismisses his human inclinations. His chase after the pigs is described as "the promise of meat." Jack misses his prey again, but this only serves to fuel his determination to kill.


NOTE:

Many references to Jack and Ralph make use of dark and light imagery. Jack is described as being comfortable in the dark jungle, and he can even see in the dark, much like an animal. Ralph is building shelters to protect the boys from darkness and the unknown beast of the jungle; he is a champion of light.

When Jack returns to the lagoon where Ralph and Simon are finding it difficult to build shelters, he has trouble explaining his desire to kill. Jack is slowly becoming an animal and is unable to express his longings. He is so caught up in learning to hunt that he can't remember why they should be rescued. Ralph, on the other hand, is trying to learn to express his thoughts; he is groping toward an understanding of what it means to be a person. "He wanted to explain how people were never quite what you thought they were.

To avoid an argument, Ralph and Jack discuss the fear of the beast, which is getting worse among the smallest boys. Simon says: "As if... the beastie or the snake-thing, was real." Jack and Ralph both shudder.

The fear of the beast in the jungle is so great that no one mentions it by name anymore. Remember the idea of naming? If the boys can't give a name to what they fear, it has gained power over them.

Jack makes fun by calling them all batty, which diminishes the tension. Yet moments later he says, There's nothing in it of course. just a feeling. But you can feel as if you're not hunting, but-being hunted, as if something's behind you all the time in the jungle."

Jack denies the existence of an actual beast by ridiculing those who believe in it. However, he recognizes the presence of "something" lurking in the jungle that Ralph is unable to accept. Jack knows what the littluns feel, but rather than fearing it, Jack is attracted to the presence in the jungle.

The conflict between the two main characters is mounting. Ralph believes the only solution is to keep the fire going in order to assure their rescue. Because the well-tended fire is also a form of light, it may be considered a symbol of knowledge and/or communication. You might say Ralph stands for the positive forces and Jack represents the darker, negative, and lesser known urges of mankind. Ralph and Jack are described as "two continents of experience and feeling, unable to communicate." Because neither is able to listen to the other and their differences in opinion are growing stronger, a clash must eventually take place.

The closing scene of the chapter is Simon's. Much like Jack, he goes alone and unafraid into the jungle. But compare Simon's jungle with Jack's. The harshness is portrayed, but so is the beauty: "With the fading of the light the riotous colors died and the heat and urgency cooled away. The candlebuds stirred. Their green sepals drew back a little and the white tips of the flowers rose delicately." Simon loves nature, and the description here is filled with a sense of awe for it. Simon is like a mystic who goes into the wilderness to pray, and the jungle shows him its undetected beauty. Butterflies often follow him.

Like Jack and Ralph, Simon knows there is no real beast in the jungle. However, Simon is not afraid to call the fear of the beast by name. And there is power in being able to call something by its true name.

Simon is kinder and more compassionate than the other boys. Simon (his name originally meant one who hears) hears and understands more than most people his age, and he has the quiet courage to attempt an explanation of what he knows. But his task is impossible because no one on the island can appreciate what he says. Ralph and Jack label him an oddball because they can't understand him.

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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Lord of the Flies by William Golding-Free Summary
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