Why does Jack put clay on his face, and what is its effect in Lord of the Flies?

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luannw's profile pic

luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Jack puts paint on his face, literally, to help him hide in the bushes as he hunts for pigs.  It is camouflage.  Figuratively, Jack puts the paint on his face to hide his true identity as a civilized human.  The painting of his face is like putting on a mask to hide the part of Jack that used to function in society.  The effect is that Jack is able to let more of his uncivilized side out and he becomes wilder and more vicious.

Roger throws stones at the littluns, Henry in particular.  Roger does not hit Henry; he misses him on purpose.  The reason is that Roger still has some vestige of civilization left in him, "Here, invisible, yet strong, was the taboo of the old life."  The civilized part of Roger keeps his arm from doing what he has been conditioned not to do - to hurt someone.  This scene serves as sharp contrast to the scene later in the story, when Roger pushes the boulder onto Piggy, killing Piggy.

rose21waverley's profile pic

rose21waverley | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Easier Meaning:

Jack painting his face is basically his ticket to savagery. Jack uses the paint to blend in with nature and to easily kill the pigs. In an abstract way, the paint serves as the side of Jack that is yet to be unleashed (Jack is becoming more cruel and barbaric). Underneath the paint serves as the old Jack (the Jack with a domesticated conscience)

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