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This lesson includes a summary of chapter five, ‘Beast From Water,’ from William Golding’s classic 1954 novel ”Lord of the Flies”, as well as some of the most significant quotes from this part of the novel.

Ralph Calls a Meeting

At the end of chapter four, Ralph angrily heads to the meeting place in preparation for everyone to congregate. He’s angry because a ship had passed the island but no one was tending the fire to create smoke.

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Jack’s group of hunters were in charge of keeping the fire going but they had spent the day hunting and came back with a pig, its head mounted on a stick and all the children chanting like warriors.Now, at the beginning of chapter five, Ralph is thinking about what he needs to say at the assembly and is growing frustrated at how disorderly the children and their environment had become. He realizes how important it is to be thoughtful as a leader but also how difficult it could be to think quickly enough to make good decisions. Now that he realizes how much thinking is involved in being a chief, he has a new respect for Piggy, who had always been thoughtful.Once all of the children had gathered, Ralph tries to get them to take their situation seriously. He wants to stop having meetings where the older children argue and the younger littleuns roll off their logs and giggle and nothing gets accomplished. He tells them that they need to go back to collecting water in coconut shells rather than just drinking straight out of the river.

Ralph goes on to tell everyone that they needed to go back to tending the fire constantly and to only relieve themselves near the rocks by the shore. Lately many of the children had gotten careless and started using any place at all as a latrine, or restroom, which could contaminate the fruit they eat. He ended his speech by acknowledging that order had broken down and he wasn’t sure why, but that it probably had to do with fear.The children seem to have lost respect for Ralph even though they had originally selected him to be their chief. Now they are more interested in amusing themselves and doing whatever they want.

They acted bored by Ralph’s speech. When he finished, he placed the conch down and let the others speak.

A Discussion of Fear

Jack takes the conch at the meeting and accuses the littleuns of being too fearful and screaming out in the middle of the night because they’re seeing beasts in their nightmares. He impatiently cries, ‘Serve you right if something did get you, you useless lot of cry-babies!’ He insists that as a hunter, he has been all over the island by himself and has never seen a beast.Piggy takes the conch next and also talks about the fear that has set in. He says that ‘life is scientific’ and that there is a solution to all problems.

He acknowledges that fear might be irrational but it exists and they should try to solve the problem. He asks the littleuns who think they have seen beasts on the island to tell the group about it and they can lessen their fears.A littleun named Phil shares that he had a nightmare once and when he woke up, he saw a creature moving among the trees. Ralph insisted that it was all a dream, but Phil repeated that he saw the creature after he had woken from the nightmare.Piggy asks another littleun who had mentioned seeing a strange beast to talk to the group.

This child, Percival, is timid and scared. He bursts into tears but eventually says that the beast comes out of the sea. The children argue about whether there is a sea creature that would come on land and the order of the meeting disintegrates even more.

The Meeting Descends into Chaos

Ralph watches the children shout and argue and feels more frustrated about his lack of control. Simon takes the conch and timidly suggests that there is a beast.

He’s met with disrespectful shouts of contempt before he is able to explain: ‘What I mean is. . . maybe it’s only us.

‘ The children do not understand what he’s trying to say. They begin to argue about whether the beast is a ghost and demand who among them believes in ghosts.Ralph ineffectively tries to restore order. Jack begins to speak to the group, but doesn’t have possession of the conch. Ralph begs him to respect the rules, no matter how small, because ‘the rules are the only thing we’ve got!’ Jack retorts back, ‘Bullocks to the rules! We’re strong–we hunt! If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat and beat and beat–!’ With that battle cry, Jack and all of the children break away from the assembly and scatter, shouting and whooping.

Ralph and Piggy remain. They find themselves wishing there were adults to guide them. They acknowledge that they, as children, are not equipped to govern themselves. Now the children have divided into two groups: those who want order and those who want chaos. Piggy urges Ralph to use the conch to call everyone back, but Ralph is afraid he’s lost them.

He says, ‘if I blow the conch and they don’t come back; then we’ve had it. We shan’t keep the fire going. We’ll be like animals. We’ll never be rescued.’

Lesson Summary

In chapter five of Lord of the Flies, the reader can see order break down among the children as Ralph tries desperately to get them back on track. He calls a meeting and gives them instructions for keeping their environment orderly and keeping the fire going to attract rescuers, but realizes that fear is driving them to behave irrationally.

The children mock each other for their fear, and the meeting ends with Jack leading the group away with wild whoops and dancing. Piggy wants Ralph to keep trying to instill order but Ralph feels ready to give up, wishing they were once again with adults who would take care of everything.

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