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Lord of the Flies Chapter 6 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 6, 'Beast From Air,' from William Golding's classic 1954 novel 'Lord of the Flies,' as well as analysis of some of the significant quotes from the chapter and a short quiz to test your comprehension.

A Mysterious Figure Appears

Throughout Lord of the Flies, we have gotten hints that a terrible war is going on in the world beyond the island. The boys have made several references to it up until this point. Now, in chapter 6, a casualty from this war, or 'a message from the adult world' falls from the sky with a parachute. From the narrator's description of the body hanging, it is clear that the figure is dead. The body lands in some trees with the parachute tangled in the branches.

This reminder of the war shows the irony, or a situation that is opposite of what is expected, of Ralph and Piggy, in a previous chapter, longing for adults to be on the island so that there would be order and peace. As it turns out, adults can cause conflict and chaos as well, and on a much bigger scale.

Man or Monster

As the figure with the parachute falls, Sam and Eric are supposed to be tending the fire but have fallen asleep. When they wake up and stoke the fire again, they see the figure in the trees lit by the flickering flames and, because of the earlier assembly where talk of beasts inspired fear in all of the boys, the brothers think the figure is a monstrous beast.

The Signal Fire
The camps signal fire

San and Eric run back to the camp and wake up Ralph and Piggy to tell them what they saw. Before their arrival, Ralph was dreaming a sweet and innocent dream, showing the reader how much this young boy craves his old world of order:

'Even the sounds of nightmare from the other shelters no longer reached him, for he was back to where came from, feeding the ponies with sugar over the garden wall.'

Ralph wakes from his peaceful dream to the panicked cries of Sam and Eric; this juxtaposition, or sharp contrast, shows how he has lost his innocence since arriving on the island and that he regrets it. Their terror and the pre-existing notion of beasts on the island weakens Sam and Eric's grasp on reality, and as they report what they saw, they embellish:

'It was furry. There was something moving behind its head--wings.

There were eyes--

Teeth--

Claws--

Nearly touched me.'

Sam and Eric's exaggerated report shows how fear is taking over the boys and making them irrational.

The Boys Search the Island

Ralph calls another assembly to talk about this possible threat. Jack says he has been everywhere on the island except for one place--a rock formation that looks like a castle. Ralph lets Jack lead a search for the beast in those rocks and instructs Piggy to stay behind to watch the littlest children.

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