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Ralph laughed, and the other boys laughed with him. The small boy twisted further into himself.
"Tell us about the snake-thing."
"Now he says it was a beastie."
"A snake-thing. Ever so big. He saw it."
"In the woods."
"He says the beastie came in the dark." (2.73-80)
The biguns are laughing at the littluns' fear, but they won't be laughing for long. Pretty soon, they'll be just as afraid—and they can do ugly things out of fear.
"A fire! Make a fire!"
At once half the boys were on their feet. Jack clamored among them, the conch forgotten.
"Come on! Follow me!"
The space under the palm trees was full of noise and movement. Ralph was on his feet too, shouting for quiet, but no one heard him. All at once the crowd swayed toward the island and was gone—following Jack. (2.120-123)
Oops. Ralph's moment at the top of the food chain was pretty brief. It's only chapter two, and Jack's populist tactics are already more undermining the rule of law.