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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 12 - Cry of the Hunter
Ralph hides in the jungle and first examines his wounds. He is scratched and bruised all over, but there is nothing serious. He then ponders over the deaths of Piggy and Simon, the breaking of the conch, and the disintegration of their society. He knows that there is no stopping the savages now. As he moves through the forest, he is shocked to see the offering of the pig, the "Lord of the Flies". He hits the head to the ground and takes the stick for his spear.
As he approaches Jack's side of the island, he hears the war-cries of the tribe and realizes they are dancing again. He sees Sam and Eric guarding the entrance, and they talk to him but refuse to join Ralph. They do reveal that Jack and the tribe are prepared to hunt and kill Ralph the next day. They give Ralph some meat and tell him to hide. He burrows himself inside a thicket.
Ralph is awakened the next morning by the cries of the savages who are hunting him. He overhears a conversation with Jack and realizes that under torture Sam and Eric have revealed his hiding place. Several boys try to enter the thicket, but he fights them off. The savages then roll a boulder at the thicket, but it is impenetrable. When he hears the boys walk away, Ralph feels safe. Then he smells smoke and realizes that the savages are trying to burn him out. In panic, he runs past the hunters, trying to escape; but there seems to be no place to run or hide, for the whole forest is now on fire. Ralph tries to be rational, but it is hard when he feels like a hunted animal.
A savage comes close to his new hiding place, and Ralph can bear no more. He bursts out and starts running towards the beach. As the hunters close in, he is wild with fear. He stumbles and falls. When he stands up again, he finds himself facing a naval officer, who has been attracted by the fire. The officer sees the paint- streaked boys with spears and thinks they are playing games. He questions Ralph and learns that two boys have been killed. He is shocked at their behavior; that civilized British boys could behave like savages. Ralph and all the other boys simply sob in answer. The naval officer is embarrassed and turns his back so the boys can have a chance to compose themselves.
Ralph is completely isolated now. He hides in the forest as an outcast and bitterly comments that this situation has come to pass because he had some sense. In contrast to his rationality, which is quickly fleeing him, he hears the now familiar rhythm and chanting of the tribe as they dance. He knows he must struggle for survival against them, both physically and mentally.
In his flight through the forest, Ralph comes face to face with the "Lord of the Flies". The gleaming white skull seems to jeer at him, and he breaks it on the ground, much like the conch was crushed. Golding here symbolically contrasts the two. The conch; a symbol of reason and order, has been destroyed by evil and savagery. Ralph then destroys the "Lord of the Flies", the symbol of evil and savagery.
The sudden appearance of the naval officer abruptly brings civilization back to the island. Ironically, it was the out-of-control fire that was meant to destroy Ralph that attracted the officer and saved them all. But it is also ironic that their "savior" emerges from a war ship, wears a revolver, carries a machine gun, and is involved in the savagery of war, filled with death and destruction. When he sees the boys with their war-paint and spears, he assumes that the children are having fun and games, imitating adults. In truth, they have experienced all the frightening things of adulthood.
The novel ends with Ralph and the boys sobbing in relief; but they are also weeping over their loss of innocence, the deaths of Piggy and Simon, and the darkness of man's heart. These children fully understand the fallen nature of man.