Boys (With Sharpened Sticks) Just Wanna Have Fun: Lord of the Flies, Chapter 8

Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill!

Pig Head, “Gift for the Darkness,” Lord of the Flies, William Golding

Goody goody gumdrops. This is a fun chapter. And by fun I mean highly, highly disturbing.

Just look at the chapter title: “Gift for the Darkness.” Eek. Here’s a quick run-down:

Piggy calls Jack’s hunters “Boys armed with sticks,” Jacks gets very offended about it, Ralph and Jack disagree about what’s to be done with the beast (really just the dead parachute dude, remember), Jack calls Ralph a coward then asks the boys to raise hands if they don’t want Ralph to be chief, the boys awkwardly don’t raise hands, Jack runs away like a little brat-baby . . .

(take a breath . . . )

One by one the boys start leaving to join Jack’s tribe, Ralph and Piggy and Samneric remain, Simon’s off to his secret spot and gets thirsty (cue critics who say he’s like Jesus fasting in the wilderness), Jack and his crew decide to “Forget the beast” and instead hunt a mama pig with piglets, Roger stabs a piglet, the boys kill the sow . . .

AND THEN THINGS GET WEIRD.

–Pause on the quick run-down for a few moments.–

Here, struck down by the heat, the sow fell and the hunters hurled themselves at her. This dreadful eruption from an unknown world made her frantic; she squealed and bucked and the air was full of sweat and noise and blood and terror. Roger ran round the heap, prodding with his spear whenever pigflesh appeared. Jack was on top of the sow, stabbing downward with his knife. Roger found a lodgment for his point and began to push till he was leaning with his whole weight. The spear moved forward inch by inch and the terrified sqealing became a high-pitched scream. Then Jack found the throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands. The sow collapsed under them and they were heavy and fulfilled upon her. The butterflies still danced, preoccupied in the center of the clearing.

So that was awkward.

I remind my students that this is an allegory and that the boys literally have hunted and speared and killed a pig.

And yet.

On a deeper level, it is clearly rape. The boys derive pleasure from the violent killing of the mama pig. They derive pleasure from pain.

What’s more disturbing, though, is that Golding is writing this story to highlight elements of human nature. Little did Golding know about the Me Too Movement to come in 2006 with women sharing their experiences of men sexually harassing and abusing them. The Me Too hashtag started becoming viral in 2017, showing the world just how ubiquitous sexual harassment and abuse really is.

BUT WHY IS THIS THE CASE? Why do some men derive pleasure from the pain of women?

In LOTF, the boys feel a raw power over another living thing. Remember how Jack’s hair is red? And how red represents blood-lust?

Let’s be mindful to be good humans out in this big world of ours. If you feel the need to exert power over someone, get yourself a punching bag.

–Resume run-down–

So after the boys kill the sow (and after Robert yells “Right up her ass!”), they cut off its head, sharpen a stick at both ends, slam one end of the stick in the ground and “jammed the soft throat of the pig down on the point end of the stick which pierced through into the mouth.” Pig head on a stick. Gift for the darkness, indeed.

Pan over to Simon in his secret spot: he finds himself face to face with the pig head. On account of the spilled guts, there are LOTS of flies buzzing about, drinking in the runnels of his sweat, and “in front of Simon, the Lord of the Flies hung on his stick and grinned.” So the pig head now has a name and a gender. It is Lord of the Flies. And it is male.

Meanwhile, Jack and his tribe cook up the pig, and invite Ralph and Piggy and Samneric to join in the feast. They’re not sure about going “in the jungle.”

Back again to Simon in his secret spot: Lord of the Flies (the pig head) starts in with a full convo, and Simon is not about it. LOTF taunts Simon and chides him like a little schoolboy, telling him “we shall do you . . . Jack and Maurice and Robert and Bill and Piggy and Ralph. Do you. See?” Sounds a lot like a threat to me — a violent threat (and perhaps a little like Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness). And did you notice that Piggy and Ralph are part of the group of boys that LOTF says will do Simon? Ugh, say it isn’t so.

And that’s the chapter, folks! Take note that the boys went ahead and killed off their food supply (the piglets will soon die without their mama, and with mama dead, she won’t be getting pregnant and birthing any more pigs). Interesting to remember that the boys on the island are . . . boys. There is no way for them to procreate. So the fact that they killed the mama pig is fitting I suppose. Boys-only island!

Oh, and one last quote to finish off:

“Sucks to your ass-mar.” — Ralph to Piggy

Catch ya next time for chapter 9, “A View to a Death” (oh, no…).

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