In Chapter 8, why does Jack say that the beast is a hunter?
At the beginning of Chapter 8, Ralph and Jack are arguing about what to do with the beast. Ralph believes that the beast is too strong and will overpower the small contingent of boys armed with sticks. This upsets Jack, who immediately grabs the conch and holds a meeting. At the beginning of Jack's speech, he attempts to say what the beast is doing on top of the mountain. He hesitates, and a random boy comments that the beast is hunting. Jack then says,
"Yes, hunting...Yes. The beast is a hunter. Only— shut up! The next thing is that we couldn’t kill it. And the next is that Ralph said my hunters are no good." (Golding 181)
The initial reason that Jack calls the beast a hunter is because someone in the crowd suggested it when Jack hesitated during his speech. The second reason Jack comments that the beast is a hunter is to amplify the fear among the boys. Jack realizes that if the boys are afraid of the beast, they will look to him to defend them against the beast since he is a hunter. Also, Jack can manipulate the group into thinking that the only way to catch a "hunter" is to be one. Jack, being the leader of the hunters, will then take on more of a leadership role and successfully usurp power from Ralph.
Ralph and Jack become embroiled in competition for leadership in Chapter Seven of Lord of the Flies as they hunt and climb up the mountain. Behind Ralph the sinister presence of Roger looms at all times as they search for the "beast." Having encountered "the ruin of a face," Ralph fled in fear. In Chapter Eight, then, this vying for the leadership continues, but Ralph's "panic flight down the mountainside" makes his speak in defeat:
"So we can't have a signal fire....We're beaten."
Then, when Jack asks "What about my hunters?" Ralph disparagingly retorts, "Boys armed with sticks." And, Piggy chides Ralph, "Now you done it. You been rude about his hunters."
So, Jack blows the conch and calls a meeting at which he angrily attempts to turn everyone against Ralph by establishing that something to be feared and respected as the beast hunts. Then, he tells the hunters that Ralph has said that they are cowards and "no good." This, too, is an attempt to turn the boys against Ralph. Then, he tells the boys that Ralph is not a hunter, implying that it will take a hunter like himself to lead.