Lord of the Flies by William Golding is about a group of British school boys stranded on a deserted island. Without adults, the boys must fend for themselves. They have no tools and must find food. The palm trees and coconuts become an initial source of nutrition. In addition, the boys find that there are fish swimming in the waters around the island. However, eventually they crave meat.
Jack Merridew is the leader of the boys choir. Jack exerts a negative influence on the boys and the group dynamics. He tries to appoint himself chief. However, the boys elect the more level-headed Ralph instead. In concession to Jack, Ralph tells the boys that Jack will be the head of the hunters, in charge of finding meat for them on the island.
Jack is suited for the role of hunter, as his wild and violent side takes over on the island. He is a bully who can be cruel to the boys that he does not like. He particularly dislikes the more rational Piggy and calls him Fatty to rankle him. The other boys find Jack’s treatment of Piggy amusing, and Jack therefore is a catalyst to bring out some of the cruelty inherent in all of the boys. When Piggy begins to speak, Jack says:
“You’re talking too much,” said Jack Merridew. “Shut up, Fatty.”
Although Jack silences Piggy in a cruel and sadistic way, the author notes that "what intelligence had been shown [in this scene] was traceable to Piggy. Nevertheless, "Jack and the others paid no attention.” Jack’s violent and blood-thirsty streak grows and becomes more evident to all of the boys over time:
“You cut a pig’s throat to let the blood out,” said Jack, “otherwise you can’t eat the meat.”
Jack’s bullying of Piggy turns into something even worse, and the other boys follow suit. In this way, Jack serves to create divisiveness among the boys as Ralph grows increasing less comfortable with Jack and his actions. The scene where Jack grabs Piggy's glasses shows how Jack can whip the boys up and get them to act in unison against Piggy or other boys:
Jack pointed suddenly. “His specs–use them as burning glasses!” Piggy was surrounded before he could back away.
Jack also becomes power-hungry with the hunting and killing of live creatures. As a result, he ignores the rules. This is clear when the fire goes out under his watch. The fire is important because the boys believe they can use it to attract the attention of a passing ship or possibly a plane in order to be rescued. Ralph is furious and accuses Jack of neglecting his responsibilities.
However, Jack sees the fire as a nuisance that gets in the way of his passion—hunting. This confuses the other boys about what is important: rules or hunting—Ralph’s order and controlled management or Jack's wild violence. They watch the interaction between Ralph and Jack intently:
“You let the fire go out.”
Jack checked, vaguely irritated by this irrelevance but too happy to let it worry him.
“We can light the fire again. You should have been with us, Ralph. We had a smashing time. The twins got knocked over—” “We hit the pig—” “—I fell on top—” “I cut the pig’s throat,” said Jack, proudly, and yet twitched as he said it. “Can I borrow yours, Ralph, to make a nick in the hilt?”
The boys chattered and danced. The twins continued to grin.
“There was lashings of blood,” said Jack, laughing and shuddering, “you should have seen it!” “We’ll go hunting every day—”
Ralph spoke again, hoarsely. He had not moved. “You let the fire go out.” This repetition made Jack
Later, Ralph repeats that Jack has broken the rules:
“Jack! Jack!” “The rules!” shouted Ralph. “You’re breaking the rules!”
Ralph summoned his wits. “Because the rules are the only thing we’ve got!”
But Jack was shouting against him. “Bollocks to the rules! We’re strong—we hunt! If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat and beat and beat—!” He gave a wild whoop and leapt down to the pale sand.”
Jack clearly disregards the rules and raises uncertainty among the other boys about the importance of the rules. Jack believes that hunting trumps rules. If he could, Jack would become a tyrannical despot capable of coercing the boys into believing that his way is correct.
Regarding the conch—which stands for order and rules—he tells Ralph:
“Conch! Conch!” shouted Jack. “We don’t need the conch any more. We know who ought to say things. What good did Simon do speaking, or Bill, or Walter? It’s time some people knew they’ve got to keep quiet and leave deciding things to the rest of us.
He also spurs the boys to violent treatment of other boys. This is evident in the scene where Jack is threatening Robert:
“Kill him! Kill him!” All at once, Robert was screaming and struggling with the strength of frenzy. Jack had him by the hair and was brandishing his knife...the heaving circle cheered and made pig-dying noises.