Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Chapter 12

Cry of the Hunters

Night falls and Ralph stays close to Castle Rock. Samneric, now savages, have been stationed as guards. Ralph crosses the bridge and scales the tower to talk to them. They tell Ralph that Jack and the tribe are going to hunt him tomorrow. The plan is that the kids will make a line stretching from one shore of the island to the other and they will slowly advance until they find him. When Ralph asks what they will do when he is caught, the twins reply, "Roger has sharpened a stick at both ends," but Ralph does not attach meaning to this. He tells Samneric that he plans to hide in the thicket near Castle Rock, thinking that Jack will not look so close to the fort.

Ralph wakes up the next morning and the twins have been forced to confess where Ralph is hiding. The tribe tries to roll another boulder from the castle to land in Ralph's thicket, but they just barely miss him. A savage tries to crawl through the branches to see if Ralph is still there and gets the business end of a spear. They set the thicket on fire and Ralph runs into the forest as the line of savages spreads out to begin the sweep of the island.

Deciding that the best option is to hide, Ralph finds the place where Simon used to stay and hunkers down. As the line of savages advances the entire island behind them is burning, but they only seek to catch and kill Ralph. The line reaches his hiding spot and Roger peeks under to look. Ralph charges him and runs to the beach, the tribe pursuing. He runs past the burning shelters right into a Navy officer.

Ironically, the massive fire and smoke enabled the ship to see them. As the boys gather around, the officer comments on how it must be all be fun and games. Some of the boys are crying, realizing what they've done. The officer sees the spears and asks, "We saw your smoke. What have been doing? Having a war or something?" He learns that two children have been killed and they are taken off the island to the waiting cruiser. As they are taken away, "...Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy."

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