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Lord of the Flies

by: William Golding

Jack

I ought to be chief...because I'm chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp.

In Chapter 1, Jack stakes his claim as natural leader of the boys based on somewhat arbitrary prerequisites. However, due to Piggy’s crucial vote for Ralph, Jack fails to be elected leader, but is allowed to maintain control over his choir. While Jack does have inherent leadership abilities, he is bested by Ralph’s charm and desire to develop a set of civilized rules for the boys.

His specs – use them as burning glasses!

In Chapter 2, Jack realizes that Piggy’s glasses can be used to start a fire on the island, and aggressively snatches them from Piggy’s face. Jack’s actions foreshadow the importance of Piggy’s glasses to the plot and to the survival of the boys, while also highlighting Jack’s physical dominance over Piggy.

I agree with Ralph. We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything. So we’ve got to do the right things.

In Chapter 2, Jack asserts that the boys should adhere to the rules of British civilization on the island. This statement is ironic because Jack and his followers are quick to shirk the constraints of society and give in to savagery. Jack’s logic that the boys should act civilized because they’re British – not because they’re humans – foreshadows the tribalism that develops later on. The example of Britain as a model civilization also mirrors the Naval officer’s disappointment at the end of the book to see British boys reduced to savagery.

I thought I might kill.

Jack returns from an unsuccessful hunt in Chapter 3 and tells Ralph he almost succeeded. Jack’s frustration at his inability to kill the pig is mirrored by Ralph’s frustration at Jack’s neglect of other duties to help the group. Ralph wants Jack to either catch a pig, or give up and help build shelters for the others. Tension grows between Ralph and Jack as their motivations on the island diverge.

Eat! Damn you!

When, in Chapter 4, Jack finally kills a pig, he angrily demands the group eat in acknowledgement of his success as a hunter and provider. Jack notices that his rage elicits respect from the other boys, and for the first time recognizes his lust for power and controlling others. He will learn to use this rage, and the fear it incites, to motivate the boys and inspire their allegiance through the rest of the book.

Bollocks to the rules! We’re strong – we hunt! If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat and beat and beat - !

In Chapter 5, Jack feels that being a hunter is more important than following Ralph’s rules. He values killing and hunting more than contributing to the order and civilization of the island. Jack demonstrates his growing desire for power over the others as he begins establishing an authoritarian system focused on hunting and barbarity.

I’m not going to play anymore. Not with you...I’m not going to be a part of Ralph’s lot—

Hurt and embarrassed after Ralph belittles his hunters, Jack decides to leave the group in Chapter 8 and go off on his own. Jack’s tears remind us that despite their adult actions, these characters are still children. Jack’s humiliation is directly tied to his violence later in the book, when he realizes that fear is an effective tool for getting the others to take him seriously.

Sharpen a stick at both ends.

In a particularly brutal hunting scene in Chapter 8, Jack tells Roger to use a sharpened stick to mount the dead pig’s head and leave it as an offering to the beast. The head becomes the Lord of the Flies with whom Simon has a hallucinogenic conversation. In the final chapter, Roger and Jack sharpen a second stick. While they don’t explicitly state their plans, because of this earlier quote we know they intend to mount Ralph’s head as an additional offering to the beast.

No! How could we--kill--it?

In Chapter 10, Jack asks Stanley how they could kill the beast, even as the boys quietly suspect the beast was actually Simon. Like Piggy and Samneric on the other side of the island, Jack refuses to admit that he helped brutally murder Simon, not the beast. Because Jack needs the boys to continue fearing the beast in order to maintain his control, he tells his hunters to prepare an offering just in case the beast returns, again disguised as something or someone else.