THE END OF INNOCENCE
Understanding the facts
1. Say what this passage depicts; explain what has happened and what the boys have been doing.
2. Focus on the children: how do they appear to the officer?
3. Focus on the officer’s questions and on his reactions to Ralph’s answers: what are his feelings?
4. What do the children do in the last paragraph? Why, in your opinion?
5. Compare the officer and the children: what would you say the officer stands for?
6. “I should have thought that a pack of British boys—you’re all British aren’t you?—would have been able to put up a better show than that—I mean—” (lines 48-52): what does the officer mean?
7. Focus on the narrator’s comments on what the children have gone through. What is the nature of these comments?
8. How can this passage be seen as an illustration of what a Voyage and Return story is intended to do? What is there to learn in that type of story?
He staggered to his feet, tensed for more terrors, and looked up at a huge peaked cap.It was a white-topped cap, and above the green shade of the peak was a crown, an anchor, gold foliage. He saw white drill, epaulettes, a revolver, a row of gilt buttons down the front of a uniform. […]
The officer looked at Ralph doubtfully for a moment, then took his hand away from the butt of the revolver.
Squirming a little, conscious of his fi lthy appearance, Ralph answered shyly.
The officer nodded as if a question had been answered.
“Are there any adults—any grown-ups with you?”
Dumbly, Ralph shook his head. He turned a half-pace on the sand. A semi-circle of little boys, their bodies streaked with colored clay, sharp sticks in their hands, were standing on the beach making no noise at all.
“Fun and games,” said the officer.
The fire reached the coconut palms by the beach and swallowed them noisily. A flame,seemingly detached, swung like an acrobat and licked up the palm heads on the platform.
The sky was black.
The officer grinned cheerfully at Ralph.
“We saw your smoke. What have you been doing? Having a war or something?”
The offi cer inspected the little scarecrow in front of him. The kid needed a bath, a haircut, a nose-wipe and a good deal of ointment.
“Nobody killed, I hope? Any dead bodies?”
“Only two. And they’ve gone.”
The offi cer leaned down and looked closely at Ralph.
Ralph nodded again. Behind him, the whole island was shuddering with fl ame. The officer knew, as a rule, when people were telling the truth. He whistled softly.
Other boys were appearing now, tiny tots some of them, brown with the distended bellies of small savages. One of them came close to the officer and looked up.
But there was no more to come. Percival Wemys Madison sought in his head for an incantation that had faded clean away.
The officer turned back to Ralph.
“We’ll take you off . How many of you are there?”
Ralph shook his head. The offi cer looked past him to the group of painted boys.
“Who’s boss here?”
“I am,” said Ralph loudly.
A little boy who wore the remains of an extraordinary black cap on his red hair and who carried the remains of a pair of spectacles at his waist, started forward, then changed his mind and stood still.
“We saw your smoke. And you don’t know how many of you there are?”
“I should have thought,” said the officer as he visualized the search before him, “I should have thought that a pack of British boys—you’re all British aren’t you?—would have been able to put up a better show than that—I mean—”
“It was like that at first,” said Ralph,”before things—”
“We were together then—” The officer nodded helpfully.
“I know. Jolly good show. Like the Coral Island.”
Ralph looked at him dumbly. For a moment he had a fl eeting picture of the strange glamour that had once invested the beaches. But the island was scorched up like dead wood—Simon was dead— and Jack had… The tears began to fl ow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, 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.
William Golding, Lord of the Flies (1954)
Here are two extracts of two versions of the ending scene of » Lord of the flies ». Compare the two versions.
LORD OF THE FLIES 1963
LORD OF THE FLIES 1990