Lord of the Flies Questions and Answers
by William Golding

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In Lord of the Flies, what reason does Ralph give for the boys' defection to Jack? What kind of leader is Jack?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Ralph explains the boys defection to Jack as follows: "They're having fun."

He pits this "fun" against the responsible needs of their community, which means tending to the fire:

The fire's the most important thing. Without the fire we can't be rescued. I'd like to put on war-paint and be a savage. But we must keep the fire burning. The fire's the most important thing on the island.

Ralph, however, loses out to the primitive release of repressed desires that Jack represents. The younger boys want to have fun through the indulgence in war paint and savage antics that Jack offers. He gives the boys meat, something they desire, while Ralph and Piggy offer them only the deferred gratification of rescue and the less exciting task of tending the fire.

Jack represents Hitler and his appeal to people's atavistic, unconscious urges for supremacy and violence—what writer Thomas Wolfe called the primitive desires of mankind and described as usually being buried under a rock. (However, he states that in the 1930s, they were unleashed through waves of racism, triumphalism, and warfare.) Jack provides something similar to Hitler's torchlit night parades and ominous pounding boots. Ralph and Piggy represent the ordered, civilized world of Roosevelt and Churchill—the appeal of which is more elusive.

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In chapter 9, Ralph asks Piggy where everybody is at, and Piggy responds by telling him that the majority of boys have decided to join Jack's tribe. When Piggy comments that the boys have left because they desire meat, Ralph says:

And for hunting . . . and for pretending to be a tribe, and putting on war-paint....

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jieun102 | Student
  1. In chapter 9, Ralph said: ‘”And for hunting,” said Ralph, wisely, “and for pretending to be a tribe, and putting on war-paint.”’ (Golding, pg.163). Jack lures the boys in to his control by offering them meat from his hunts, and excitement. Jack is a manipulative leader who can insert fear in the boys; while the boys are scared and overwhelmed by emotional instincts, Jack takes the opportunity to persuade the boys. He also uses effective traps by not telling the boys that he will not completely control them. Ralph, at this point, realizes the need for order and organization; he knows that they can no longer act like children. Although he wants civilization and order in the boys, he has difficulty communicating to the boys.  Jack, on the other hand, can foresee the boys’ fears and instincts, therefore being able to control and brainwash them.
wwjd | Student

Jack is a manipulative leader. He plays on the fear of the other boys. He has very good knowledge of how to persuade others, using their emotions and instincts.

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