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Jack always has a lust for power. He states at the beginning of the novel:

“I ought to be chief,” said Jack with simple arrogance, “because I’m chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp.”

He dislikes the idea of an election and is angry and upset when...

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Jack always has a lust for power. He states at the beginning of the novel:

“I ought to be chief,” said Jack with simple arrogance, “because I’m chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp.”

He dislikes the idea of an election and is angry and upset when the boys choose Ralph as their leader:

Even the choir applauded; and the freckles on Jack’s face disappeared under a blush of mortification.

Yet, significantly, at this point Jack accepts the verdict of the group and acquiesces to Ralph's offer that he be head of the former choir boys, which can now become a band of hunters. Jack is still living within the confines of civilized life and conforming to a social order that runs by rules and norms.

It is only later that Jack realizes he doesn't have to be obedient and rule-bound on the island. He changes by allowing his id, or innermost desires, to take hold. He does what he wants to do, which is to indulge in savagery. As he realizes this appeals to the other boys' most primal, atavistic instincts and that he has the power to draw them into his orbit, he becomes increasingly emboldened. When he puts on a mask that hides his civilized face, he is "liberated from shame and self-consciousness"—in other words, from the moral restraints of his super-ego.

Jack turns into a bloodthirsty, painted savage who rules through fear and by exciting the emotions of the boys who follow him, showing how quickly civilization can revert to barbarism.

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Jack goes from being an enthusiastic, attention-hungry boy to the leader of a tribe of ruthless savages, who attempt to kill Ralph. At the beginning of the novel, Jack is rather antagonistic toward Ralph and disagrees with his assessment that the boys' main concern should be maintaining the signal fire and building shelters. Jack is portrayed as a power-hungry boy who enjoys hunting. As the novel progresses, Jack and his hunters kill their first pig, and he becomes addicted to hunting. Jack also begins arguing more with Piggy and openly opposes Ralph. Jack continually interrupts assemblies and disobeys Ralph's decisions regularly. As he slowly descends into savagery, Jack begins painting his face, stripping his clothes away, and letting his hair grow. 

Later on in the novel, Jack even attempts to usurp power from Ralph, which does not go as planned. After Jack tells the boys that he is starting his own tribe, the majority of the boys leave Ralph's group and join Jack at the other end of the island. Jack establishes his headquarters at Castle Rock and rules over his tribe as a cruel tyrant. Jack is a domineering leader, who controls his followers through fear and manipulation. After the boys brutally murder Simon, and Roger kills Piggy, Jack orders his followers to hunt Ralph. Overall, Jack goes from being a relatively attention-craving adolescent to a ruthless tyrant, who orders his savages to murder Ralph. 

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In what is arguably the largest character transformation in the novel, Jack's change within Lord of the Flies is one that depicts corruption, bloodlust, and transgression of the basic tenants of human "goodness." Jack literally begins the novel as a choir boy--the "chapter chorister and headboy"--a status which seems to imply purity and demand a certain degree of respect from the others.

This persona quickly falls away when it becomes clear that no adults are present to maintain authority and that no one will be coming to rescue the boys. Seeing the opportunity to seize power, Jack attempts to instill fear in the other boys by proclaiming that a beast is prowling the island. He begins to adopt odd and savage habits, painting his face, undermining the leadership of Ralph, and organizing a group of bloodthirsty hunters who wind up in a violent rivalry with Ralph's tribe. The death of Piggy and Jack's indifference to this crime shows that he no longer is just "play acting" at cruelty; he has fully transformed into a sadistic, cruel monster who has no regard for the value of human life or for the longterm survival of the other boys.  

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In the novel Lord of the Flies, Jack changes from a proper, orderly schoolboy to a violent savage.  The transformation does not happen immediately when Jack lands on the island, but gradually, as he discovers the joys of the hunt.  One chief moment of Jack's descent into savagery occurs when he dons the painted mask for the first time:

"He looked in astonishment, no longer at himself but at an awesome stranger. [...]He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling" (64).

In this scene, Jack feels the liberation of hiding himself behind paint for the first time. He no longer sees himself as a proper young English boy, for the mask frees him "from shame and self-consciousness" (64).  The mask allows him to adopt a new identity; no longer is Jack the hesitant choir boy who could not kill a trapped piglet.  Under the paint, he feels fearless and confident. 

As if he is addicted to these new feelings of empowerment, Jack takes to wearing the paint at regular intervals, and by the end of the novel when he takes control of the island, he wears the mask all the time. Golding uses the boys' hunting paint as a symbol of their savagery and violence; by the end of the novel when the paint has become like their second-skin, they have truly become savages, on inside and outside.

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When we first meet Jack, in chapter 1, he is a bully. He tells Piggy, "You're talking too much . . . Shut up, Fatty!" Jack is also arrogant, and shortly after insulting Piggy insists, "I ought to be chief . . . because I'm chapter chorister and head boy." However, although some of the other boys, most notably the choir boys, laugh along with Jack when he bullies Piggy, Jack doesn't seem to be very popular. When a vote is taken to decide the leader, the choir raise their hands but only with "dreary obedience," and not with enthusiasm. Jack, it seems, is not someone who leads by example or who inspires people to follow him for any positive reason. Rather he is a leader who asserts himself, inspires fear and exploits the weaknesses of others. Jack is also, in chapter 1, presented as something of an alpha male, or at least has pretensions of being an alpha male. He nominates the choir as hunters and his prized possession seems to be his knife.

One possibly redeeming characteristic that Jack demonstrates in chapter 1 is his inability to kill the pig. He says that he was only hesitating because he couldn't decide where to stab the pig ("I was choosing a place") but the rest of the boys know that really he couldn't do it "because of the enormity of the knife descending into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood."

Later in the story Jack is still a bully, but the most notable difference is that the respect for life which stopped him from killing the pig in chapter 1, is replaced by an animalistic, sadistic bloodlust. This bloodlust culminates in chapter 9 with the murder of Simon, in a wordless "tearing of teeth and claws." Towards the end of the novel, Jack is described frequently with animalistic language. It is almost as if he has regressed to, and been taken over by the primitive, savage part of himself. In chapter 11, for example, he is described as bounding out from the tribe and "sreaming wildly." Also in chapter 11, Ralph describes Jack as "a beast and a swine."

The transformation of Jack is symbolized by the mask he adopts. In chapter 11, Ralph "gaze(s) at the green and black mask before him, trying to remember what Jack looked like." Jack's face, and perhaps his true self, has been replaced entirely by the persona projected by the mask.

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Jack transforms from the leader of a boys' choir to a rebel leader and finally to the leader of a murderous gang.

When Jack and his group first meet with Ralph and the other boys, Jack believes that he is best suited to be their leader given he was a head boy and chapter chorister. However, after a quick vote, Ralph is appointed the leader, and he appoints Jack as the leader of the hunters.

As time goes by, conflicts between Ralph and Jack grow out of control, and Jack starts challenging Ralph’s authority. The two groups resolve to go their separate ways. Jack's group ends up causing the deaths of both Piggy and Simon. They capture the twins, Sam and Eric, and torture them in order to force them to go against Ralph. Jack sanctions all these actions, and he is responsible for turning his group from a band of civilized boys to a group of savages.

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Jack's character changes dramatically in Lord of the Flies, evolving from proper choir boy to full-blown vicious savage. 

Jack enters the story as a choir boy, still with full choir regalia.  His claim to leadership among the other choir boys is that he is "chapter chorister and headboy" and "can sing C sharp" (22).


As the story progresses, Jack's persona shifts from that of choir boy to hunter and savage.  A defining moment occurs in chapter four when he makes the painted mask on his face, "a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness" (64).  Jack's savage side emerges, ready to hunt and kill. "The mask compelled them" (64).  Jack becomes known for his expertise and daring in the hunt, for he is able to take the savagery to the next level and kill the sow. The other boys both fear and respect Jack, much in the same way they did for his ability to sing C sharp--only now it is Jack's affinity for violence that defines his leadership, not his musical ability.

By the end of the novel, Jack's transformation to savage is complete; at the death of Piggy, Jack is jubilant in his authority:

"See? See? That's what you'll get! I meant that! There isn't a tribe for you anymore! The conch is gone [...] I'm chief!" (181)

Even though Jack did not kill Piggy himself, his acceptance of the outcome reveals his commitment to violence as a force of strategy and leadership.  Jack shortly after orders the death of his rival, Ralph to assure his own dominance as chief over the island.

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