Lord of the Flies Chapter 4 Summary
by William Golding

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 with him.

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 likes.

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 dead, the watchers absent from duty.

Jack and a crowd of hunters move up to the summit, carrying a dead pig. The hunters 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 breaks -- the lenses that made the fire possible are now broken by Jack. Jack apologizes about the fire, but Ralph does not accept.

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 performed. Ralph tells them all that he is calling an assembly even though it is dark out.

Share on Pinterest