Analysis

Chapter 8 highlights the transformation that alters Jack's relationship with Arthur. Friendships often gradually dwindle, and this is the case for Arthur and Jack, whose friendship never seems to recover after the boys kiss. This kiss does not seem to ind icate any sexual feelings the boys might have for one another, but more precisely indicates feelings of closeness and affection. These feelings, especially the kiss, scare Jack and Arthur so much that they refrain from any and all sentimentality from that moment on, and turn on one another at the slightest indication of affection. This fear of emotional closeness can be attributed to Dwight's expectations that Jack be masculine, and to Jack's fear that Arthur's effeminate demeanor is somehow contagious, a nd that he too will become a "sissy."

As a defense mechanism against Jack and Arthur's sudden closeness, Jack disassociates himself from Arthur at the Scout Gathering and feigns a masculine over-confidence to impress the boys from the Ballard troop. Arthur is the only one with whom Jack has s hared his plans to run away and it is therefore clear that he trusts Arthur implicitly. This trust becomes frightening for Jack, however, and his decision to prioritize the Ballard boys over Arthur is a manifestation of Jack's denial of their intimate rel ationship. Jack's coolness toward Arthur at the carnival forebodes what their relationship will hold in the future. Over time, this coolness will develop into a noticeable and irreparable rift.

In reality, however, Jack is not prepared for the independence that being a man entails. In trying to impress the Ballard boys, for example, Jack is conned out of the eighty dollars he has saved to run away with. For the first time, Jack is actually tryin g to realize one of his fantasies by making a serious attempt to run away from the situation he has dreamed of leaving for so long. Jack longs for the freedom he equates with adulthood and with running away, but he is clearly not ready for any of it. Jack 's impressionability and gullibility are made obvious when he is conned out of his every cent at a carnival gambling table, all to impress a group of boys he has met only hours before. Jack may have magnificent dreams, but here he learns that it takes far more to actualize and live out such elaborate fantasies.