SparkNotes Blog

Blogging Lord of the Flies: Part 8 (The One With Jack’s Terrifying Rise to Power)

We knew this was coming. The divide was inevitable. On one side, we’ve got Ralph—charismatic, goal-driven, a natural leader. On the other, we’ve got Jack—power-hungry, coercive, kind of squirrelly. The two were always destined to butt heads, but even I couldn’t have predicted things would get THIS freakishly weird.

Having seen the beast with their very own eyeballs, Jack, Ralph, and the others return to the lagoon, and Jack calls for a shame meeting. He’s decided that Ralph should forfeit the burden of leadership. He knows that the backbone of any smear campaign involves fudging the truth, so he takes Ralph’s previous words and actions and he twists them around a little bit.

JACK: Ralph thinks you’re all cowards unfit to live and die in this world.
RALPH: That’s not even vaguely what I said.
JACK: He says we’re all useless piles of flesh and if the beast doesn’t kill us, he’ll kill us himself.
RALPH: Nope.
JACK: Also when we went to confront the beast, he stayed behind because he was scared and because he fears the mortal oblivion of death like some kind of baby wimp.
RALPH: You were scared, too, remember?
JACK: Can you prove that? With science? Thought so. Check and mate.

Public opinion on Ralph isn’t trending positive these days. Even so, none of the other survivors vote to impeach him, and nobody follows Jack into the fires of Mordor when he tries to get them all to leave and start a new life with him. Some will sneak away to join him later, but for now it’s just Jack blundering off into the doom jungle, solo and crying. I don’t know what face you guys are picturing, but I’m picturing this:

With Jack going rogue and the beast #confirmed, the remaining kids try to come up with a plan. Simon thinks they should go confront the beast. Hey! Look, everybody! Simon’s back! Yep. To my sincere and ever-loving shock, Simon has returned. I was so sure he was going to die in this chapter, like a sacrificial island lamb. This hasn’t changed my mind, though. He’s going to die soon. He’s going to die so hard. He’s going to die hard with a vengeance.

Piggy suggests they simply build another signal fire near the lagoon since they can no longer access the one that’s in the belly of the beast. Nothing’s changed, really; they still need to be rescued. Ralph supports this idea. It gives everyone a purpose. When Ralph asks him what they should do about Jack, Piggy admits that he’s basically just hoping Jack will die of natural beast-related causes, and that the problem will resolve itself.

While everyone’s out gathering firewood, Jack annexes a good chunk of the older boys into his needlessly combative death cult. We’ll call them Team Murder. Their first order of business is to hunt down a nursing pig mother, scatter the piglets, and ram a spear up the pig’s rectum, which I think we can all agree is a visual that’s a bit rough on our delicate constitutions. The whole thing was Roger’s idea. Big surprise.

But it’s not all fun and games and spit-roasting pigs. Jack’s the chief now, and as such, he lays down a few ground rules:

  1. Just forget the beast. It’s fine. It’s whatever.
  2. But just in case, let’s kill pigs and then leave bits of them behind as an offering to The Beast.
  3. Presumably, this will foster a peaceful coexistence.

Jack finds things that don’t involve pig murder to be very confusing, so his plan of attack is to just keep doing that. Only now they’re going to impale the pig’s head on a stick and leave it behind as a gift to the beast they’re supposed to be ignoring. It feels like they were all a little too ready and willing to spear a pig, decapitate it, and leave its head on a spike, but maybe that’s just me.

Back on the beach, Ralph & Co. (I’m going to start calling them Team Priorities) have fixed a fire. Ralph and Piggy sit and bond. Piggy points out that Samneric aren’t doing their share of the work if they do everything together, which, you know, thank you. Now I can stop harping on this in the discussion questions. Ralph admires Piggy’s logical approach to things, and Piggy confesses to Ralph that he’s afraid of how stupid everyone is. He puts it a bit more diplomatically, but he’s right; no one else cares about the fire. No one else cares about anything at all. Ralph asks him what causes things to “break up as they do,” and Piggy says he suspects it has to do with metaphors for lawless savagery. Actually, he says, “Jack,” but you know.

Team Murder raids the beach. They grab a few burning sticks and skedaddle. Now they, too, can have a fire. Before departing, Jack announces that they’ve killed a pig, and everyone is welcome to feast on its flesh if they renounce the old ways, and if they RSVP.

MEANWHILE, Simon is having a hell of a time. Earlier, he wandered off into the jungle and, unbeknownst to Team Murder, watched them kill the pig and leave behind its head. Now he emerges from his hiding place and begins hallucinating this off-the-wall bonkers hyperreality where the pig’s head is talking to him. Since it’s buzzing with flies, he naturally names it—wait for it—the Lord of the Flies. The Lord of the Flies tells him

There isn’t anyone to help you. Only me. And I’m the Beast…Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you?

And thus the Lord of the Flies himself has dashed every last hope I had of our intrepid heroes running afoul of tropical jungle werewolves. There is no Beast; there is only Zuul. Furthermore, there never was a beast, unless you’re counting the beast that lives in the darkest corners of our hearts and will probably be the death of poor Simon, who’s Too Good for This Sinful Earth. He got a good look at the human condition just now, and what he saw wasn’t pretty. Because of this, he faints, and that’s the end of that.

Discussion questions:

  1. Are you Team Murder or Team Priorities?
  2. If you were some kind of almighty beast-god, would a mere pig’s head satisfy you? Not me. What am I supposed to do with it, even? Sacrifice a Snickers bar and then we’ll talk.
  3. If Ralph represents civilization and Jack represents the chaos of disorder, where does Simon fall on the scale? Is he on a different scale altogether?

Image credit: New Girl / Fox

Find the next chapter and every installment of Elodie’s Lord of the Flies blog HERE, and our Blogging the Classics index page HERE!