Lord of the Flies Chapter 5 Summary
by William Golding

Beast From Water

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 fire. 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 it -- a large animal living on the island. The Beast, in reality, is something that resides in all of the kids -- a sort of dangerous evil that must be withheld. Ralph, from the start, has tried to hold it back by laying down rules and organizing 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, "there 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 horrid 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 beast -- the 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... maybe 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 strong -- we 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 those 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' nightmares.

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