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

Ralph and Piggy cross the island to get the glasses back. A huge rock is set free by Roger, killing Piggy and shattering the shell. Ralph flees for his life.

In the morning the fire has died, and without Piggy's glasses the boys have no way to relight it. Again Ralph asks the question, "Are we savages?" It seems to him incredible that they could not keep a simple fire going to insure their rescue. He blames Jack once more, but no one is really to blame; the problem is their inability to understand human nature. He suggests they talk with the other tribe.

Before he speaks, Piggy takes the conch, still following the practices of civilization. He calls for action; he wants his glasses back. Yet Piggy recognizes that his situation is hopeless. "You can take spears if you want but I shan't.... I'll have to be led like a dog, anyhow."

Ralph protests, "You'll get hurt."

"What can he do more than he has?" Piggy replies, knowing he's lost without his glasses. Piggy, who has been the brunt of ridicule, who is physically weak, now begins to show his real strength. Our impression of him changes as he talks. He defends what he believes. He wants to go to Jack and say, "I don't ask for my glasses back, not as a favor. I don't ask you to be a sport... not because you're strong, but because what's right's right." Piggy understands fairness and decency, which of course Jack doesn't.

Piggy's effort is doomed, but because he persists he becomes a tragic hero, one who carries on in spite of what awaits him. "Piggy sought in his mind for words to convey his passionate willingness to carry the conch against all odds."

The twins, the only other boys who remain with Ralph, want to paint themselves like the hunters, but Ralph refuses to allow it.


They are a sorry crew crossing the island. Both Ralph and Piggy have problems with their sight; they are like the blind leading the blind. They pass the place where Simon was killed, but nature has washed away all signs of that violence. Ralph looks at different spots and thinks of what took place in each one. His mind is like that of an old man, reflecting over a lifetime. The procession he leads is like a funeral procession.

They arrive at Castle Rock, Jack's fort. Piggy waits at the edge of the cliff, a person on the brink of death. He asks, "Am I safe? I feel awful-" What awaits him is awful. Golding's tragic hero feels terror on the brink of what he is about to do.

Ralph goes forward with his own personal inability to fathom what he is dealing with in the hunters. Warned to halt, he responds in an adult way, "Stop being silly!" Ralph no longer sees the game in what they are doing.

Piggy urges, "Don't leave me, Ralph." On this end of the island, in the face of Jack's reign of terror, Piggy's nobility appears painfully absurd.

Ralph's hard-won compassion comes through. He tells Piggy, "Kneel down and wait till I come back." This is a sensitive Ralph, a Ralph very different from the boy who once thoughtlessly revealed Piggy's name. But this is also the same Ralph in many respects, for he still doesn't understand how vulnerable Piggy really is.

Above them, Roger is flinging stones. There is something obscene about his aiming to miss, as though he were counting the seconds until he can satisfy his lust for violence. "Some source of power began to pulse in Roger's body."

Suddenly Jack appears with a gutted pig, and Piggy wails, "Ralph! Don't leave me!" Together, Piggy's plea and the sow's body seem to comment on each other, by implication, Piggy is a dead pig. The tension becomes unbearable.

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