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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES-LORD OF THE FLIES
CHAPTER 2 - Fire on the Mountain
Ralph calls another meeting by blowing the conch. When all the children are assembled, he tells them that they are definitely on an uninhabited island, but there is an abundance of fruit and other things to eat. He explains that since there are no grown-ups, they will have to look after themselves. He assures them that if they remain calm, they can survive until they are rescued. Jack joins in by mentioning the pig, and Ralph adds that they need hunters to get meat. Ralph declares that they need to have some rules, and Jack agrees excitedly. The first rule relates to the conch. It is identified as the sign of authority, and only the one holding it is allowed to speak.
Piggy tries to make everyone realize the gravity of their situation, but no one seems prepared to be serious about being stranded on the beautiful island paradise. Their attention is diverted by a shy young boy who mentions a snake-thing, a "beastie" he has seen in the woods. Ralph and the older boys try to reassure him and explain he has probably had a nightmare. Many of the boys, however, start feeling uneasy.
The topic of their being rescued comes up again. The boys decide to build a fire signal on the top of the mountain to attract the attention of some passing ship or airplane. In sudden excitement at the idea, all the boys run up the hill leaving only Ralph and Piggy on the beach. Piggy is quite disgusted with their childish behavior. While Ralph rushes after the others, Piggy follows slowly.
On the mountaintop, the children enthusiastically collect dry and rotten wood. Once the pile is ready, they realize they have no matches to light the fire. Jack suggests using Piggy's glasses and rudely snatches them off his face. By focusing the sunlight through the thick lenses, he lights the fire. The rotten wood turns into a temporary inferno that is fanned by the wind; soon the whole mountaintop is ablaze. Piggy once again bemoans the senseless haste of the boys; they refuse to listen and mock him. After the fire has died down, the boys hold a meeting on the mountaintop, and it is decided that Jack's hunters will be responsible for keeping the fire burning. Piggy points out that the little boy with the mulberry mark on his face, the one who previously mentioned the "beastie", is missing. The boys are filled with fear and shame that he may perhaps have died in the fire.
At the start of the second chapter, an atmosphere of freedom and merriment continues, but the rational Ralph sees the need of establishing a sense of order amongst the boys. He states that there needs to be some rules, a fact that excites authoritarian Jack. He has visions of a police state where he can punish those who break the rules. The other boys are much more interested in adventure than rules.
It is also the rational Ralph who sees the need to build a fire signal at the top of the mountain. In childish excitement over the adventure of building a fire, all the boys rush off leaving the two sensible characters, Piggy and Ralph, on the beach. Piggy bemoans the reckless nature of the other boys to his friend and leader. On the mountaintop, the dictatorial Jack takes charge. He rudely grabs the glasses (which are a symbol of intelligence and civilization) from Piggy's face and ironically uses them to start the fire (which is a primitive element). When the rational Piggy tries to warn the children about being frivolous with the fire, they refuse to listen to his wisdom and openly mock him. The result of their irresponsibility is a fire raging out of control and a dead child burned by the blaze.
In this chapter, the author introduces two emotions that interrupt the children's fun and games. A shy little boy states he has seen a beast in the woods, a foreshadowing of things to come. (Ironically, it is this little boy that is burned to death in the fire on the mountaintop.) Even though the older boys tell the child it was only a nightmare, FEAR is introduced to the group, and their adventure seems to fade a bit. As the story develops, the fear grows and the boys begin to see the beast everywhere -- except in the place of its origin, the human heart. The second emotion is SHAME. When they learn the boy with the mulberry mark has died due to their irresponsibility in building and managing the fire, the boys feel terrible but refuse to openly accept responsibility.
By the end of the chapter, the savage element has been introduced in the boy's behavior. The creeping plants have turned into writhing snakes in the fire, and Eden (or unspoiled paradise) is destroyed.