The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Prendick faces the Beast Folk with one broken arm and a single revolver in his pocket with only a few rounds left. He spots Montgomery’s whip on the ground and seizes it, cracking it in the air and demanding that the Beast Folk salute him. Hesitantly, still fearful of Prendick, the three do. Prendick proclaims that none escape the Law or Moreau’s judgment, not even Montgomery or the Sayer of the Law. Prendick orders the three Beast Folk to carry the bodies deep into the ocean and send them adrift. They comply.
This is the last instance in which the Beast Folk will fear the whip or human authority ever again (save for the Dog Man, as will be seen). The memory of such authority is enough to cause hesitation in the smaller, less-powerful creatures for a brief time, suggesting that, due to their physical stature, they are in less of a position to challenge the prior authority, and indeed had more to gain in their protection by it.
Themes
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
The Hyena-Swine emerges also, immediately challenging Prendick’s authority. Prendick resolves that he will kill the Hyena-Swine the first chance he gets, since he represents the greatest threat of any of the Beast Folk. He draws his revolver and fires, but misses, and the beast disappears into the forest again.
In contrast to the lesser beasts who obeyed Prendick, the Hyena-Swine is powerful and fearsome and so stands to gain the most from defying authority and embracing the new anarchy. In the new lawless hierarchy of power, the Hyena-Swine will be on top. This suggests that the greatest threats both to religion and to social order are those individuals who are most powerful and brutal.
Themes
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
Morality, Survival, and Circumstance Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Prendick makes his way to the ravine to hide and assess the situation. He has no secure location left on the island now that the enclosure has burned down. The Beast Folk are becoming animals once again, as Moreau knew that they could, and now Prendick is hiding rather than asserting his authority and taking up the place of power Moreau once held in the minds of the Beast Folk.
That Prendick has already missed his chance to take up the authority of Moreau is suggestive of how quickly the order of society unravels and its memory fades. This would further suggest that civilization and religion are both precariously held together, far nearer to dissolution and chaos than most would expect.
Themes
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
After several hours, Prendick emerges, finding some Beast Folk resting. He requests food and they tell him that there is some stored in the huts, though none of them rise or pay him much mind. Prendick finds the food, then barricades himself in one of the huts with some branches and falls asleep.
That the Beast Folk don’t even rise from their rest to address Prendick demonstrates how quickly they have abandoned all belief in human authority. For his own part, Prendick stoops to their level and takes shelter in one of their huts. Human and beast, once separated by a wide margin of power, are now equals.
Themes
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Morality, Survival, and Circumstance Theme Icon
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