Jack in Lord of the Flies: Character Analysis & Quotes

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  • 0:03 Who Is Jack?
  • 0:46 Jack's True Nature
  • 2:45 Civilization Is Lost
  • 4:24 Jack's True Evil
  • 5:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Susan Nagelsen

Susan has directed the writing program in undergraduate colleges, taught in the writing and English departments, and criminal justice departments.

We meet Jack, a power-loving, charismatic villain in 'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding. Jack believes he should be the leader of the boys, but the idea of power takes him down a road filled with savage treachery.

Who Is Jack?

William Golding shows us what happens when boys are left to their own devices without supervision in Lord of the Flies. One boy takes a turn for the worse with the freedom. Jack loves the idea of spending time on the island without any supervision. He's fueled by power, which makes him do things that are unspeakable in the civilized world. Jack is also charming, and he believes that he's entitled to be the leader, just because he thinks he should be. He responds when Piggy suggests there should be a leader, ''I ought to be chief, because I'm chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp.'' His arrogance is profound.

Jack's True Nature

The problem with Jack is that he misuses the power he takes, abuses the boys, and the trail of horror directly related to him is long and wide. When Jack decides that Ralph's goody-two-shoes way of running things is unacceptable, he decides to leave the group, and he takes a number of the boys with him. He gets the boys to come over to his side by promising to take them on a hunt.

The idea of a hunt thrills the boys, so they jump ship and put their souls in Jack's hands. This is a mistake. Jack has lost interest in the idea of being rescued. He only has the idea of a hunt on his mind. He says, '' 'Rescue? Yes, of course! All the same, I'd like to catch a pig first.' He snatched up his spear and dashed it into the ground. The opaque, mad look came into his eyes again.'' It is clear that Jack is losing his grip on reality.

The hunt commences, and the boys are overtaken by the exhilaration. It doesn't take long before they are all caught up in the power of taking a life. ''They surrounded the covert but the sow got away with the sting of another spear in her flank. The trailing butts hindered her and the sharp, cross-cut points were a torment. She blundered into a tree, forcing a spear still deeper; and after that any of the hunters could follow her easily by the drops of vivid blood.''

Jack says, ''Kill the pig, cut her throat, spill the blood.'' This becomes the chant every time a pig is killed; we see Jack's dominance over the boys growing stronger. He says, ''You should have seen the blood!'' His descent into savage behavior has begun. Jack's excitement over the defeat of the pig is palpable, and he even rubs the blood of the sow on his hands. ''He giggled and flecked them while the boys laughed at his reeking palms. Then Jack grabbed Maurice and rubbed the stuff over his cheeks ...''

Civilization Is Lost

As time goes on, we see that any semblance of civilization is slipping away from the boys, and especially from Jack. We are witness to Jack's obsession with hunting, and we watch it grow larger and larger. He even creates a hunting mask. The narrator says, ''He made one cheek and eye-socket white, then he rubbed red over the other half of his face and slashed a black bar of charcoal across from right ear to left jaw.'' When he looked at his image, he no longer saw himself.

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