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The Sound of the Shell

The opening chapter begins with two boys, Piggy and Ralph, making their way through the jungle. We learn, through their dialogue, that they had been travelling in an airplane with a group of British school children. The plane had presumably been shot down and crashed on a an island in the Pacific. It is hinted that the rest of the world is at war, and that most of it has been destroyed by nuclear attackspossibly explaining that the children were A storm has come and gone, washing the wreckage away.

Ralph and Piggy meet and revel at the prospect that they are alone on a tropical island with no dults. They make their way to the beach where they find a large conch shell. Using the shell as a horn, Ralph summons any other children that may be on the island. They begin to come from the jungle and Piggy tries to take names. Along the beach two marching files of black-clad children approach. This is the first we see of Jack Merridew (who, oddly enough is the only child, besides Percival, whose last name we will learn).

Piggy is immediately singled out by the group and made fun of. The children do not like him and Being children, and at first thinking that survival is a game to be played and hat rescue is inevitable, they decide to vote for a chief “to decide things. ” It is obvious the only two contenders are Jack and Ralph. Ralph is voted in; he had possession of the conchalready magical in quality to those presentand seemed the most able. Jack’s black-clad choir are designated as hunters upon Jack’s insistencealready revealing his need to hunt and kill.

Ralph’s first decision as chief is to send a party out to investigate whether or not they are really on an island. Himself, Jack, and Simon leave to scale the mountain. As they climb the pink granite, they take time to have fun and roll a arge boulder off the edge to watch it be destroyed “like a bomb. ” This need to destroy begins with this innocent rock-rolling and will eventually culminate with the killing of a sow, Simon, Piggy and the hunting of Ralph later in the They reach the summit and indeed discovery they are on an island, apparently uninhabited. A new friendship developes between Ralph and Jack.

They savor the “right of domination,” and Jack comments about how they will have fun and hunt “until they fetch us. ” Jack believes rescue is inevitable and these thoughts will contribute to his behavior later in the novel. On the descent down the mountain they discover a piglet caught in the underbrush. Jack unsheathes his knife and raises it, ready to let flybut he cannot. His current nature will not let him spill bloodbut this will change. He is embarrassed and promises that next time he will kill. Fire on the Mountain Later that evening, Ralph calls another meeting by blowing on the conch.

He conveys to the group of kids that they are on an island with no grown ups (The number of kids is not fully knownand will never be knownbut we assume it is around thirty. Most of them are very small, possibly five or six years old and are called “littluns. The rest are near Ralph’s age, possibly twelve years old. ) Also, Jack insists on having an army of hunters and begins talking excitedly At this time Ralph lays down some rules. First, when someone wishes to speak at an assembly he must hold the conch shell. No one is allowed to interrupt the holder of the conch except Ralph.

The conch begins to symbolize the organization of society and the rules that such a society must uphold to function. They speak excitedly about their new temporary home, how it is a “good island” and how much fun it will be. Then, a littlun with a large birthmark on his face steps forward to speak. He is given the conch shell. The child tells of a “beastie” that he saw in the dark, lurking on the island. It looked like a snake and is the first manifestation of the Beast. It is argued whether or not such a beast could live on a small island. Ralph doesn’t think so, but nonetheless he feels himself “facing something ungraspable.

Jack says his hunters will kill the beast if, indeed, it does exist. Ralph then introduces another prevailing symbol of the novel: the signal fire. He will make it paramount that a signal fire be maintained to aid in their rescue. At mention of creating such a fire at the top of the mountain, the hildren become excited and rush off, lead by Jack, to the summit to see if they can complete such a taskto really prove they can make it on their own. Ralph follows, and Piggy comments that they are acting like “a crowd of kids. ” This is ironic, because they are a crowd of kids.

It shows how Piggy is set apart from the group; that he is more mature and does not throw caution to the wind as Jack does. A huge pile of gathered wood is made on the top of the mountain. Jack, against Piggy’s protest, grabs his specs to light the fire with and soon it is blazing. Piggy comments that the effort was wasted because the fire roduced little smoke. Jack begins arguing with him. Piggy tells Jack that he has the conch, thus he should not be interrupted, but Jack says, ” The conch doesn’t count on top of the mountain, so you shut up. ‘ ” Jack is beginning to dislike the rules of the conch.

The group of hunters are divided up to take shifts keeping the fire going. It is then noticed that the sparks from the now-dead fire have ignited half the forest below the mountain. Piggy speaks out against the group’s immaturity. He tells them that they ought to be more responsiblethey don’t even know how many kids are on the island. Jack argues against him. Piggy points to the inferno and asks where the boy with the birthmark is. Nobody knowshe has been killed by the fire, by the lack of responsibility, the rampant adventure and maybe something else that is present in the boys.

He is the first to die and the boys can only stare at the fire, marveling with horror at what they have The chapter begins many days, possibly weeks, after the fire on the mountain. Jack is hunting for pigs and has become good at tracking them, but has not killed one as yet. He comes back to the beach where Ralph and Simon are trying to build a hut. Two rickety huts have already been onstructed and this last one is not turning out so well. Ralph complains to Jack how the kids don’t help; they are bathing or eating fruit in the forest instead.

This seems to be a trend with every project they try to accomplisha project is proposed at a meeting and they work hard for a little while, but never see it through to completion. Jack and Ralph have a small argument about whether building huts is more important than hunting. This is the first of many disputes they will have. The subject of the beastie comes up again. Many of the littluns are frightened of it, which is why they are building huts.

Jack comments that when he is alone hunting he feels he is, ” not hunting but being hunted… As though something is behind you all the time in the jungle. ‘ ” Jack has a sudden insight as to where the pigs hide during the day. Ralph continues to badger him about the fact that keeping up the signal fire is more important than hunting, but Jack doesn’t seem to think that way. The two boys are beginning to dislike each other. They go to the bathing pool, where, “… the shouting and splashing and laughing were only just sufficient to bring them together again. ” Simon wanders into the jungle, helps the littluns pick fruit, and then wanders ff further, finding a clearing.

There is a thick mat of creepers that grow here. He climbs under them where it is cool and dark and stays there until night fall Painted Faces and Long Hair Roger and Maurice are walking through a group of littluns, kicking over the things they’ve made in the sand. They split off, and Roger hides behind a palm tree watching a littlun playing by the water. He begins throwing rocks at the littlun, but he aims to miss, because “the taboos of the old world” are still Jack comes up behind Roger and asks him to come watch as he puts on a “mask” of painted camouflage in order to hunt pigs better.

As Jack smears the clay on his face, the mask is “… a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness. ” The mask allows Jack to not worry about rescue and what he knows is right. Behind it he can do what he Later, Ralph and the rest of the boys are swimming in the bathing pool and smoke is spotted on the horizon. Ralph looks to the mountain top, but the signal fire has gone out. Running up to the summit, with the others following, Ralph reaches the top and the fire is deadthe watchers absent from duty.

Jack and a crowd of hunters move up to the summit, carrying a dead pig. The unters are excited about their first kill and begin to explain it all to Ralph. None of them care that the fire had gone out, it was not important to them; all they can talk about is the hunt and the kill. When Ralph tells them a ship passed the island they fall silent. Jack tries to make excuses, and during Piggy’s protests and lecturing Jack punches him and he falls to the ground. His specs go flying and one lens breaksthe lenses that made the fire possible are now broken by Jack.

Jack apologizes about the fire, but Ralph The fire is re-lit and the pig is roasted. Jack hands out portions of meat to all the boys except Piggy. Simon gives his portion to Piggy and Jack can’t stand it. The tension is broken and the story of the hunt is re-enacted by the boys. Maurice pretends to be a pig, while the rest dance and chant around him. This is the first time the “dance” is preformed. Ralph tells them all that he is calling an assembly even though it is dark out. An assembly is called and the group of kids come. Ralph talks about how they start projects and never finish them.

No one is abiding by the rules very strictly; they don’t gather water in coconuts anymore, nor do they use the designated places as bathrooms. And of course, there is the matter about the ire. He tells them that ” … we ought to die before we let fire out. ‘ ” He tells the hunters that the fire is more important than a pig. Furthermore, he explains that, ” Things are breaking up. I don’t understand why. We began well; we were happy. And then… Then people started getting frightened. ‘ ” They are all frightened of the Beast, and the children have been talking about ita large animal living on the island.

The Beast, in reality, is something that resides in all of the kidsa sort of dangerous evil that must be withheld. Ralph, from the start, has tried to hold it back by laying down rules and rganizing society. Nonetheless, none of the kids yet realize this, and the Beast is manifested in their minds as an animal lurking on the island. Jack argues that he has been everywhere on the island and has never seen a beast. Piggy gets up and makes a very important speech in which he states that there isn’t a beast, at least, ” … not with claws, and all that… ‘ ” Also, ” … here isn’t no fear either… Unless we get frightened of people. ‘ “

A littlun comes forward and talks of how he had been dreaming about fighting the the creepers and saw something “horrid in the forest. ” It turns out that the orrid thing was Simon, who had been returning from the clearing he likes to be at. Another littlun comes forward, Percival, and explains another type of beastthe Beast from the water. Again, this is debated. Then, Simon takes the conch and says something very important. He says that, ” Maybe there is a beast… What I mean is… aybe it’s only us. ‘

” Simon begins to understand what the Beast really is, but his is jeered at and will be jeered at for the rest of the novel, until his death. The debate continues and turns toward talk of the rules. Jack doesn’t know why Ralph has the right to make rules. He points out that Ralph cannot hunt, nor can he sing. Ralph counters that he was chosen and that is reason enough. More arguing ensues, and, “The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away. ” Jack turns against Piggy as well: ” Bullocks to the rules! We’re strongwe hunt!

If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll beat and beat and beat! ‘ ” Jack does not like rules and the Beast within him his beginning to expose itself little by little. The assembly breaks up and the hunters do their dance once again. The boys are drifting apart into two distinct groups: those who follow Ralph’s ideas and hose who follow Jack. At the close of the chapter, Ralph, Simon and Piggy are sitting on the assembly platform listening the cries of the littluns’ Two fighter planes are engaged in a nighttime battle over the islandmore evidence that the world is at war.

One of them is shot down and the pilot bails out and opens his parachute, but he is already dead. As the victor flies away the dead man floats to the island only to be caught on the rocks of the mountain. There he will stay for some days, slowly rotting. Presently, though, the twins Samneric are on fire duty and have fallen asleep. They wake up, e-light the fire, and see the “Beast from air” breathing’ in and out. They run to tell Ralph. As the sun is rising an assembly is called. The kids all believe that they are now in terrible danger.

Jack calls for volunteers to help him go to the top and kill it. A debate ensues and it is determined that the Beast does not leave tracks and moves by swinging through the tree tops, which is why Jack has never seen traces of it. It is decided that a party of hunters, plus Ralph and Simon, will go to hunt the Beast. Piggy is left at the beach with the littluns. They will first check the only lace on the island that no one has been to: Castle Rock. If the Beast is not there then they will check the mountain and re-light the fire.

They trek to the castle and discover that nothing is there. Jack exclaims that the rock would make a great fort and he and his hunters proceed to push a boulder into the sea. Ralph breaks up the fun and they start the journey to the Shadows and Tall Trees As they make their way to the mountain they stop to eat and rest and Ralph thinks about how dirty and scraggly they all look. He yearns to have his hair cut and take a bathrevealing again his character and longing to hold back They start off and Jack finds traces of a pig. They decide to hunt it.

A boar is found and Ralph wounds him with his spear. He is delighted that he made the only strike on the animal. The boar gets away and the hunters begin to dance again, but this time it is a little different. Robert is playing the part of the pig, but the kids are a slightly out of hand and some of the fake blows to the “pig” are landing hard. Even Ralph, who previously shunned the dance and chanting feels that, “… the desire to squeeze and hurt was overmastering. ” Here is the first time we see Ralph having trouble suppressing the Beast.

They continue to the mountain and Simon is sent through the forest to tell Piggy and the others that the hunting party will not be back before dark. Night falls as they reach the base of the mountain and the boys argue about whether or not they should wait until morning to scale it. Jack goes to the top and comes back down, reporting that he saw something billowing up on top. They all climb to the summit and see the Beast. Instead of fighting it and finding out that it is only a man, they run. As they flee, “… the creature lifted its head, holding toward them a ruin of a face. “

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