Study Guide

Lord of the Flies by William Golding: Chapter 8 Summary

By William Golding

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Lord of the Flies: Chapter 8 Summary

Gift for the Darkness

  • Cut to the next morning. The boys tell Piggy about the beast.
  • Ralph pushes back his mop of hair (Ralph's hair seems to have taken on a life of its own) and says they're beaten; if everyone is too scared to go to the top of the mountain, they can't keep the signal fire going.
  • Jack, trying to take control of the situation, calls an assembly by blowing the conch.
  • He tells the group about the beast and then argues that Ralph shouldn't be chief because (1) he likes Piggy, (2) he doesn't hunt, and (3) he was scared on the mountain.
  • When no one is willing to impeach Ralph, Jack storms off. Ralph is just going to have to catch his own pigs from now on.
  • BUT, before his grand exit, Jack invites anyone who wants to come with him.
  • No one knows quite what to do, but Ralph says Jack will come back once it gets dark.
  • Piggy is not happy with this beast situation, since he can no longer convince himself it's all been imagined.
  • Meanwhile, Simon says that they should go up the mountain and face the beast, because it's not like they have anything else to do.
  • No one agrees with Simon.
  • Piggy finally comes up with the brilliant idea to build a new signal fire down by the beach instead of depending on the one up on the mountain.
  • The boys do so. Piggy wants to run experiments to see which of the green leaves make the most smoke when they burn.
  • After they get it going, Piggy and Ralph look around and realize that many of the biguns—Maurice, Bill, and Roger and Robert—have disappeared.
  • The only ones left besides Piggy and Ralph are "Samneric" and Simon.
  • No, wait, Simon seems to be gone, too. They wonder if that crazy loon has climbed up the mountain by himself.
  • Cut to Simon. He's in his little meditation spot in the jungle, to sit behind the great woven mat of creepers.
  • Meanwhile, far off along the beach, Jack and his band of brothers make pig-killing plans.
  • They decide that if they leave part of the pig for the beast, the beast won't bother them—you know, like an offering.
  • Conveniently, they find a bunch of sleeping pigs. They set their sights on the biggest, fattest, mother pig, who is adorably nursing a row of piglets.
  • What follows is a bloody and horrific scene in which the boys drive their knives into this screaming pig.
  • The boys stare at the dead mother pig. What now?
  • They laugh and rub her blood over their faces—obviously.
  • "Right up her ass," says one of the boys (referring to where he put his spear) and they act out the whole thing all over again.
  • Oops. In order to cook the pig, they're going to need fire—which they'll steal from Ralph's group later on.
  • Jack tells Roger to "sharpen a stick at both ends." Then he bends over the pig with his knife and cuts off her head.
  • They ram a pointed stick into the crack of a rock and jam the pig's severed head onto the other end.
  • They leave the head as a gift for the beast and carry off the remains of the pig.
  • Now get ready for some heavy, thought-provoking, killer lines in the next ten pages or so. We suggest you go read those ten pages and then come back here when you're done. (Or get immersed and don't come back until you finish the book.)
  • Simon is hiding behind his mat of creepers, where, unbeknownst to the other boys, he has been watching them slaughter the pig. He now stares at the head's half-closed eyes, which assure him that "everything [is] a bad business."
  • Simon responds—out loud—that he already knows that.
  • We start off the scene with the head "seeming" to say things to Simon.
  • Simon stares at the black blob of bloody guts that the boys have piled on the ground. It's covered with buzzing flies.
  • The flies start gathering on Simon's hot, sweaty face, but he does nothing.
  • As the flies crawl over him, Simon stares at the impaled head, the "Lord of the Flies."
  • He watches it "grinning" back at him, and we're going to go out on a limb and say that he might be hallucinating just a little bit.
  • Okay, we're getting pretty nervous for Simon.
  • But now we return to Piggy and Ralph, who are lying on the sand, gazing at the fire.
  • Samneric have wandered off.
  • Simon is gone. They realize it is going to rain and don't know how to keep a fire going, especially with so few people now.
  • Ralph asks Piggy what makes things "break up as they do."
  • Piggy thinks it's Jack, and he's also honored that Ralph is talking to him like an equal.
  • The two of them lie there contemplating how not to die and hopefully get off the island, too, when "demoniac figures with faces of white and red and green [rush] out howling."
  • Oh, wait, it's only Jack, Maurice, and Robert with painted faces. They run up to the fire and grab some of the burning sticks.
  • It's pig roast time! Jack invites everyone to come eat.
  • Two of the "savages" say, "The chief has spoken" (sounds like Jack is declaring himself the new chief), and then they all run off again.
  • Hm, says Ralph. Looks like they're having fun, and wouldn't it be nice to join them…
  • But then he reminds everyone that they must tend the fire, because…because…
  • Uh, rescue? says Piggy. It seems like Ralph might be starting to lose it here.
  • Samneric and Bill speak up. As much as they like Ralph and all, they would really prefer eating some food to starving to death. They all head off to the feast.
  • Maybe Ralph's gang could hunt their own pig? No one seems interested, and he accepts momentary defeat.
  • We're back to Simon again.
  • The Lord of the Flies now tells Simon, with dialogue quotes and everything, that he's an "ignorant, silly little boy."
  • The Lord of the Flies asks if Simon is afraid of him, and Simon shakes.
  • The poor guy is having a hard time. His tongue is swollen (might have something to do with how thirsty he felt earlier), and he's now clearly hallucinating that he's having a conversation with the impaled pig's head
  • The pig's head says there's no one there to help poor Simon. "Only me," the pig's head says. "And I'm the Beast."
  • The Lord of the Flies rolls his eyes at the notion that the beast was something that you could hunt and kill. He says that he's part of Simon, that he's close, and that he's the reason "why things are what they are" (the answer to Ralph's question of several paragraphs ago).
  • Simon feels that "one of his times is coming on," like maybe he's about to have a seizure.
  • The pig threatens that "we are going to have fun on this island," and that everyone—and here he lists off the names of the boys—are going to "do" Simon.
  • We're getting a really bad feeling about this.
  • As the Lord of the Flies continues to talk, Simon feels that he's falling into a "vast mouth." He faints.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding: Chapter 8 Summary Study Group

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