Lord of the Flies Chapters 12 Summary & Quotes

Instructor: Katherine Garner

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

This lesson contains a summary of the final chapter of William Golding's 1954 classic novel Lord of the Flies as well as several of the most significant quotes from the chapter and a short quiz to test your comprehension.

Ralph Stands Alone

At the end of chapter 11, Ralph is completely alone on his side of the conflict because Piggy was killed and Jack captured Sam and Eric and forced them to switch over to his side. He runs into the woods, crying and fearful that Jack and his group will come after him.

At the beginning of chapter 12, Ralph is still in the woods and devastated by how completely the boys and the island have changed since they arrived. At the beginning they tried to hold on to the customs and rules of civilized society but, under Jack's leadership, everyone but Ralph has gotten sucked in to a world of violence, chaos, and savagery.

As Ralph is thinking about this, he sees the skull of the first wild pig that Jack and his group killed several chapters earlier, the skull that they had mounted on a stick and was referred to as the 'Lord of the Flies.' He thinks about how this skull, bleached white, is the same color as the conch that was shattered. This is significant because the skull was a symbol of savagery and the conch was a symbol of order and civilization. With the conch shattered and the skull remaining, it is clear that savagery has won. In the distance, he can hear the warrior chant of Jack's tribe, ''Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!''

Ralph goes back to Castle Rock at night to try to talk to Sam and Eric. They are guarding the entrance. Ralph begs them to join him again but they refuse, saying, ''You don't know Roger. He's a terror…and the chief--they're both--terrors.'' Sam and Eric are clearly terrified of their captors in the short amount of time they have been with them. They offer him food and warn him that Jack is planning to search the woods for him and that ''Roger sharpened a stick at both ends'' but they offer no more. Ralph leaves to get a head start in hiding from the tribe and falls asleep.

Jack's Tribe Hunts Ralph

The next morning, Ralph wakes up and can hear Jack demanding that Sam and Eric tell him where Ralph is. The whole tribe is searching the island for him and soon he hears some of the boys get closer. Ralph is able to stave them off for a while because the thicket is so dense, but soon he smells smoke and understands what is happening: Jack has set the woods on fire in order to smoke Ralph out. He runs and runs, chased by a pack of boys who have spears and painted faces like warriors, until he finally reaches the beach.

Forest Fire
Forest Fire

Finally Rescued

Although Jack's tribe is close behind Ralph when he reaches the beach, they do not catch him; there is a visitor on the island. Ralph looks up to find a naval officer standing near him and watching the chase take place. The rest of Jack's tribe approaches the beach. As it turns out, Jack's fire had created enough smoke to catch the attention of a ship. This event is an example of irony, or a situation that is the opposite of what you would expect, because throughout the whole novel it was Ralph who cared so much about having a signal fire to attract rescuers, but it was Jack, trying to attack Ralph, who actually succeeded at this.

British Naval Officer 1943
British Naval Officer, 1943

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