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

The novel that began with the noble summons of the shell ends with the cry of savages.

Ralph escapes into the jungle. He is now the beast pursued, and he has no time to clean his wounds. Like an animal, he must remain constantly alert.

Seeing one of the boys, Ralph thinks, "This was not Bill. This was a savage whose image refused to blend with that ancient picture of a boy in shorts and shirts." The civilized world they came from is completely gone; they exist now in a world of their own making. We readers are so caught up in Ralph's plight that our awareness of the outside world is also gone. We follow Ralph closely, experiencing his isolation and his being stalked.

At first Ralph tries to convince himself that the boys won't harm him, that they might only make him an "Outlaw." But he can't make himself believe they'll let him be a Robin Hood in the jungle. "Fatal unreasoning knowledge" of what has been done to Simon and Piggy cannot be dismissed. "These painted savages would go further and further," Ralph knows, and they won't stop until they've gotten him too. He is a threat, and that is the "indefinable connection between himself and Jack"; Jack cannot abide a threat to his throne.

Ralph returns to Jack's side of the island, hoping that in daylight he can reason with the boys. He comes upon the pig's head, now a skull resting on a stick. He recognizes it as a talisman but a more sinister one than the conch. The Lord of the Flies does not speak to Ralph as it did to Simon, but something of its evil nature "prickles" at the edges of Ralph's understanding. "A sick fear and rage swept him," and Ralph lashes out at the skull. Ralph will never understand what Simon learned on the mountain. His fear causes him to break the skull, and he takes the stick the skull was mounted on.


Feeling bitterly alone, Ralph tries to pretend they are "still boys, schoolboys." But he knows that even if he could believe it by day, he couldn't at night. He has become "an outcast," the beast, the thing Jack will hunt.

Just when he thinks nothing more can happen, Ralph discovers new wounds. Samneric have joined the tribe and are "guarding the Castle Rock against him." Even though he knows there is no hope, Ralph sneaks up to talk to them. They tell him about the hunt Jack is planning in order to catch him. When Ralph wonders why it has to be, Eric says, "Listen, Ralph. Never mind what's sense. That's gone-"

Indeed, all sense has gone out of the world. No one but Ralph bothers to think any longer, and that's why he's in trouble. "They're going to do you," the twins tell him. This is the same phrase that Ralph used about the sow and that the Lord of the Flies spoke to Simon. We equate it with death.

The final news is that Roger has "sharpened a stick at both ends." Ralph can't make sense out of that, but it strikes dread in him. Roger had abused the dying pig by thrusting a spear inside her; her head was mounted on such a stick; and Roger used a stick to free the boulder that killed Piggy. Ralph wonders what horror Roger has planned for him.

Ralph feels Piggy's presence and the terrible memory of his death. If Piggy's ghost were to return, its brains would be bashed out because of the way he died. He would be the beast. The jungle offers Ralph little comfort, and he sleeps near the tribe who will hunt him in the morning. Little is left of Ralph's rational mind when he falls asleep.

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