In chapter seven of WIlliam Golding's Lord of the Flies, how do Ralph and Jack feel about each other?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Things are rather tense between Ralph and Jack since the beginning of Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. When Ralph is elected chief (though he does not particularly seek the role), Jack is both embarrassed and angry that he was not elected chief. Though they have managed to remain generally amicable despite their differences, their relationship undergoes a dramatic change in chapter seven.

The chapter begins on top of the mountain, and Ralph has joined Jack for a pig hunt, something he does not typically do. It is a positive experience for Ralph, who manages to stick a boar with his spear; Jack, however, is upset that Ralph is getting more attention than he and shows everyone where the boar's tusk nicked him. 

As night approaches, the two boys each want something different: Jack wants to keep hunting (of course) and Ralph wants to relight the signal fire (of course). Jack wins and they continue the hunt; however, Jack loses his way and they are in a place unfamiliar to both of them. Jack falters, so Ralph steps in and makes a decision. This embarrasses and infuriates Jack, and he begins to taunt Ralph just as he has always taunted Piggy. 

Piggy has always told Ralph that Jack wanted to get rid of both of them, but Ralph has never believed it--until now.

Now it was Ralph’s turn to flush but he spoke despairingly, out of the new understanding that Piggy had given him.

“Why do you hate me?”

The boys stirred uneasily, as though something indecent had been said.The silence lengthened.
Ralph, still hot and hurt, turned away first.

“Come on.”

He led the way and set himself as by right to hack at the tangles. Jack brought up the rear, displaced and brooding.

This epiphany by Ralph changes everything between the two boys. Jack is even more anxious to eliminate his competition (Ralph) so he can run the island according to his own rules, and Ralph is finally aware of the extent of Jack's hatred of him. 

Their hunting continues, as does Jack's animosity.

“I’m going up the mountain.” The words came from Jack viciously, as though they were a curse. He looked at Ralph, his thin body tensed, his spear held as if he threatened him.
“I’m going up the mountain to look for the beast—now.”
Then the supreme sting, the casual, bitter word.

At that word the other boys forgot their urge to be gone and turned back to sample this fresh rub of two spirits in the dark. The word was too good, too bitter, too successfully daunting to be repeated.

This "fresh rub of two spirits" and will not improve but continue to grow as the novel progresses. 

Read the study guide:
Lord of the Flies

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