Lord of the Flies Chapter 4 Summary & Quotes

Instructor: Katherine Garner

Katie teaches middle school English/Language Arts and has a master's degree in Secondary English Education

This lesson provides a summary of chapter 4, 'Painted Faces and Long Hair', of William Golding's 1954 classic novel, Lord of the Flies, as well as an analysis of several significant quotes from the chapter.

Daily Life on the Island

In chapter 3, Jack was becoming more and more obsessed with hunting and killing a pig because he had been unsuccessful so far. Ralph was trying to build shelters, but only Simon was helping him. Ralph confronted Jack angrily, accusing him of neglecting other duties like helping with the shelters and keeping the fire going because of his obsession with hunting.

At the beginning of chapter 4, it appears as if some time has passed between chapters. The narrator describes how the children have developed a rhythm in their new life on the island. Everyone works, plays, eats, and sleeps with a regular pattern. Because all there is to eat is fruit, nuts, and very rarely, fish, they all suffer from stomachaches and diarrhea. The smaller children, or 'littluns,' as they are called, have separate lives from the older kids. They play on the beach and generally separate themselves from the older kids, who, to them, seem like adults, except when Ralph calls a meeting and they all congregate at the platform.

Occasionally, some of the older children bully the littluns; in chapter 4, Maurice and Roger come to the beach and ruin the sandcastles the smaller children had built and throw sand in the face of little Percival. Roger throws rocks, but at least he has the self-restraint to not throw them directly at the boy. The narrator explains, 'Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law.' It seems as though the lessons the children had learned in their old lives about manners, civil behavior, and what is right and wrong are slowly diminishing as they spend more and more time on the island without the guidance of parents, teachers, or rules and laws imposed by adults. They are becoming increasingly 'savage' as they spend more time on the island.

Meanwhile, Jack is still obsessed with hunting and killing pigs, and he decides that one reason he has been unsuccessful is that the pigs can see him because he stands out in the woods. He decides to camouflage himself by painting his face with dark shades of clay and charcoal.

Jack has been hunting wild pigs on the island
Image of wild pigs

Ralph Sees a Ship

While Jack and his group of hunters are painting their faces and planning a hunt, Ralph and Piggy are diving into the bathing pool with some of the other boys. When Ralph emerges from the water and lies out on the beach, he spots a ship in the distance. He realizes that there is no smoke coming from the fire they had made and worries that the ship will not see a signal. He, Piggy, and several other boys race to the top of the mountain to the fire, where he finds that it has gone completely out. Ralph is furious with Jack and his group of hunters because it was supposed to be their job to keep the fire going. The narrator says that 'Ralph reached inside himself for the worst word he knew' and he says, 'They let the bloody fire go out.' For Ralph, 'bloody,' is the worst word he could say, and knowing that reveals to the reader how intense his anger at Jack is for letting the fire die, losing any chance of the passing ship rescuing them.

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