Ralph is completely alone now – no Piggy, no Simon, no Samneric.
He hides in the thick underbrush, wondering what to do about the rather serious wound on his ribs.
He realizes he cannot wash himself without risking capture, so he just lies there, trying to think.
At one point, peering out from his hiding spot, he saw a painted face he identified as being Bill. But then he thought that, no, really this wasn’t Bill; it was a savage who had nothing to do with Bill.
Finally, as the sunlight starts to fade, he sneaks over to the edge of the thicket so he can see what Jack and his group are doing.
The smoke is rising and he can smell the pig they are roasting. Ralph is hungry.
He tries to convince himself that they will leave him alone, that everything was an accident and that “they’re not as bad as that.” The convincing doesn’t work.
He makes his way back to the beach and on the way comes to a clearing in the forest.
Yes, it is the same clearing we saw before, and the Lord of the Flies is still impaled on a stick, grinning. There’s an ant crawling through its eye socket.
Ralph doesn’t like the way the pig head is looking at him – it seems too alive. We are told that it “regarded Ralph like one who knows all the answers and won’t tell.”
Ralph uses his fist to smash the skull, bruising his knuckles in the process, but even afterwards still thinks the head is grinning (its smile is just wider now that it’s been split open). He grabs the spear on which the head had been impaled and makes off.
As night falls, Ralph goes back to Castle Rock to stare at the savages and Jack.
He is completely isolated and lonely. He wonders if he can’t just wander into the fort, as though it were a game, say “I’ve got pax” and laugh about it. After all, aren’t these the same boys who said “Sir” and wore caps?
The tribe is dancing and chanting, “Kill the beast. Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”
Ralph sees that Sam and Eric are moving freely among the savages; his heart sinks in despair, knowing that they are a part of the tribe now.
Ralph is at the end of his rope – Piggy is dead, Samneric are savages. There is no signal fire. The conch is smashed to powder. The whole situation sucks unbelievably.
After watching for a while, Ralph sneaks down and calls out softly to Sam and Eric.
Eventually, although frightened, they come over to talk to him. Sam is clearly uncomfortable with betraying his new tribe; he tries to tell Ralph to go away.
Ralph begins to say “If it were light–” and the narration tells us that, if it were light, the boys would burn in shame.
Sam and Eric say “they hurt us.”
The twins reveal that Jack is planning to hunt him (Ralph) tomorrow, starting early in the morning. They say “They’re planning to do you,” and after Simon, we all know what that means.
Ralph begs them to come with him, but they are obviously too scared. They say “You don’t know Roger. He’s a terror.”
Then we get yet another layer added to our Jack-Roger intrigue: They say that Roger and the chief are both terrors, but that Roger… And that’s all we get.
They tell him that Jack has sharpened a stick on both ends.
Ralph wonders what that means.
Ralph tells them that he is going to hide in the thicket near their camp.
Hearing footsteps approaching, Samneric quickly hand Ralph a hunk of meat and then run off.
Ralph eats and falls asleep in the thicket, still wondering what this sharpened stick business means.
He awakens to the sound of the savages, a cry that echoes through the forest.
Ralph realizes that Jack is just feet away, right outside the thicket where he’s hiding.
He hears Jack threatening Samneric to tell him where Ralph is.
Ralph gets ready to fight; he feels the sharpened tip of spear and grins with amusement – whoever he stabs will squeal like a stuck pig.
Ralph sees the boys heaving great rocks (à la the killing-Piggy method) toward the dense thicket he’s hiding in. The red rocks go past him and roll towards the sea.
Ralph remains where he is, overwhelmingly nervous. Smoke begins to seep in – they have set a fire to smoke him out.
Ralph worms his way back through the thicket (away from the smoke) and toward the forest.
A small savage is waiting for him as he emerges, but the poor little guy is rubbing the smoke out of his eyes.
Not taking time for sympathy, Ralph stabs the little boy and runs away.
He then has no idea what to do. Climb a tree? Just keep running? Sit down and cry? He has trouble thinking without Piggy there to help him.
Finally, Ralph decides to hide again, lunging into the deepest tangle of creepers he can find.
As he lies there, he realizes the fire that the savages set to smoke him out has spread, once again much like wildfire.
While under the vines, Ralph suddenly sees the legs of a savage moving toward him.
The savage is holding a stick that is… sharpened on both ends.
Ralph tells himself not to scream and tries to hold still.
The cries of the savages echo through the forest.
He sees the savage’s face as he peers underneath the vines.
Ralph screams and plunges out, snarling and bloody. He swings at the savage until the guy falls, but there are others coming.
Ralph runs away as a spear flies past him.
What follows is one of the best, heart-pounding chase scenes ever as Ralph runs desperately through the forest, trying to evade the savages.
He hears them all crashing through the underbrush as they give chase.
Ralph stumbles over a root and falls, just as he sees one of their shelters burst into flame.
As he rolls down the ground, he realizes he’s close to the water’s edge.
Pretty much giving up on ever escaping, Ralph covers himself with his arms and cries for mercy.
When he finally opens his eyes and staggers to his feet, he finds that he is staring up at a white-topped cap with a gold anchor on the brim.
A naval officer is staring at him in astonishment.
Behind him, Ralph can see a ship in the water, its “bows hauled up and held by two ratings.” And, in the “stern-sheets another rating [holds] a sub-machine gun.”
The officer says “hello” and Ralph is suddenly aware of his own filthy appearance.
The man wants to know if there are any adults, and Ralph, of course, shakes his head. Looking around, he sees that behind him on the beach is a semicircle of boys, their bodies “streaked with colored clay, sharp sticks in their hands.”
The officer assumes they’ve been playing a game and asks jokingly if anyone was killed.
Ralph answers, “Only two” and makes it clear the bodies are gone.
The officer finally catches on that he is serious and whistles softly.
The whole island is “shuddering with flame,” and other boys appear, coming out of the jungle, brown and with distended bellies. Little Percival comes running – he tries to start his incantation (name and address, which comforted him so much before) but he can’t remember it.
The officer asks who’s boss and Ralph says loudly, “I am.”
Jack starts to protest but thinks better of it. What’s interesting here is that he is referred to only as “a little boy who wore the remains of a […] black cap on his red hair.”
The officer informs Ralph “we saw your smoke.” Oh, the irony; instead of Ralph’s precious signal fire, it is the smoke that Jack created – in an attempt to kill Ralph – that has brought their rescuers to them.
The adult then chastises them – he would have thought a group of British boys would have put up a better show than this.
Ralph tries to explain that it was good at first, and the officer nods, adding that it was “like the Coral Island.” (The Coral Island was a novel about boys stranded on an island.)
Now that he’s finished running for his life, Ralph has time to think about what’s happened. He begins to cry, sobbing for the first time about “the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.”
The officer is a little embarrassed and turns away to give the boys time to pull themselves together, letting his eyes rest on the “trim cruiser in the distance.”
This is where we end the novel, looking at this ship in the distance that is involved in a war of no less violence than that of the island.