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These lines come from the end of Chapter 12 which occurs near the close of the novel, after the boys encounter the naval officer, who appears as if out of nowhere to save them. When Ralph sees the officer, his sudden realization that he is safe and will be returned to civilization plunges him into a reflective despair. The rescue is not a moment of unequivocal joy, for Ralph realizes that, although he is saved from death on the island, he will never be the same. He has lost his innocence and learned about the evil that lurks within all human beings. Here, Golding explicitly connects the sources of Ralph’s despair to two of the main themes of the novel: the end of innocence and the “darkness of man’s heart,” the presence of savage instincts lurking within all human beings, even at the height of civilization.
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