Curriculum Vital

The Education Umbrella Guide to Lord of the Flies
Chapter three ‘Huts on the Beach’
Summary and analysis

This chapter summary is part of the Education Umbrella Guide to Lord of the Flies. Free to download or store in our Education Cloud, the guide features chapter-by-chapter summary and analysis, analysis of the symbols and objects, character profiles, and a scheme of work. 

Questions? Comments? Contact Ross: rgrainger@educationumbrella.com

Summary

Jack was bent double. He was down like a sprinter, his nose only a few inches from the humid earth.

Alone in the jungle, Jack stalks a pig. Once within range, he launches his spear, but misses. The pig escapes.

Jack returns to the camp, thirsty and annoyed. Ralph and Simon are trying to build a shelter. Ralph explains that none of the other boys help, and that Jack’s hunters have been similarly unsuccessful in their role. The two boys argue: Jack complains that they need meat; Ralph insists the priority ought to be shelters. Eventually they calm down and go to the bathing pool.

Ralph and Jack expect to find Simon at the pool, but he has left in search of fruit. He picks some for the younger boys who have followed him, then departs alone. He advances through dense jungle to a hidden cabin. As the sun sets, he surveys the natural splendour.

Analysis

He lowered his chin and stared at the traces as though he would force them to speak to him. Then dog-like, uncomfortably on all fours yet unheeding his discomfort, he stole forward five yards and stopped.

Sun-burnt and nearly naked, Jack becomes increasingly savage. There is now something dark and sinister about him: ‘He passed like a shadow under the darkness of the tree and crouched’.

Jack is consumed by one wish: ‘From the pig-run came the quick, hard patter of hoofs, a castanet sound, seductive, maddening—the promise of meat.’

‘Castanets’ are small wooden instruments used in traditional Spanish dances. This adds to the sense of frenzied desire in Jack.

Ralph, by contrast, is more concerned with constructing a shelter. These competing needs nearly bring the boys to blows. Jack insists that if his “hunters” had some meat they would have more strength to work, while Ralph is adamant that they must first make shelter and then worry about luxuries such as meat.

Though wild, Jack hasn’t yet descended into full-blown savagery. After calming somewhat and listening to Ralph’s descriptions of the fear amongst the youngsters, he reaches the same conclusion as Ralph. They need shelters ‘as a sort of… Home.’ Without this fundamental and civilised structure, the boys are becoming wild and undisciplined. Jack tries to explain to Ralph that there is a further reason for this fear, one that is linked to his desire to hunt:

‘If you’re hunting sometimes you catch yourself feeling as if—’ He flushed suddenly.

‘There’s nothing in it of course. Just a feeling. But you can feel as if you’re not hunting, but—being hunted; as if something’s behind you all the time in jungle.’

Ralph regards this is a poor excuse for not helping with the shelters. The argument resumes. ‘All you can talk about is pig, pig, pig!’ says Ralph.

*

Between the increasingly savage Jack and the stern, civilised Ralph is Simon, now ‘burned by the sun to a deep tan that glistened with sweat.’

Simon helps Ralph with the shelters, but has equally developed a wild side to his character. While the others are on the beach, he escapes to his secret cabin in the heart of the jungle. The choice of language shows that he is becoming one with nature, not afraid of it or in competition with it:

For a moment his movements were almost furtive. Then he bent down and wormed his way into the centre of the mat. The creepers and the bushes were so close that he left his sweat on them and they pulled together behind him.

Questions? Comments? Contact Ross: rgrainger@educationumbrella.com

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