Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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How is Ralph and Jack's relationship in chapter 7 of Lord of the Flies?

Ralph and Jack's relationship in chapter 7 of Lord of the Flies is antagonistic. During their hunt for the Beast, Jack makes it clear that he resents Ralph's leadership role, and he does his best to undermine his authority.

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Tensions reach a high point in chapter 7 when it becomes clear that Jack is challenging Ralph's leadership. Jack is starting to do whatever he wants.

From the beginning, Jack has resented that Ralph was elected leader. Ralph is naturally good-looking, athletic, sensible, caring, and charismatic, making him the natural choice, but Jack has a will to power, and as head of the choir boys, he wants to be put in charge. A clash has been inevitable and now is coming to a head.

Ralph realizes for the first time how much Jack hates him. Jack asserts his own authority by saying that he is going to go up the mountain to look for the beast:

“I’m going up the mountain.” The words came from Jack viciously, as though they were a curse.

Ralph realizes that it is foolish to make such a trek, but when Jack sneers at him with the word "Coming?" Ralph knows he has to go along to maintain power.

Ralph is highly frustrated with Jack's behavior. Ralph, a good leader, behaves rationally and looks out for the interests of all the boys. He is willing and able to defer present pleasure for later rewards. Jack, on the other hand, has grown impatient with this form of leadership. He wants power at all costs and doesn't care who gets hurt or what gets destroyed as long as he gets it.

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Tensions between Ralph and Jack have been bubbling along for most of the previous six chapters. But in chapter 7, they come to a boil, with Jack openly showing his hostility towards Ralph and his authority.

Jack thinks that he should be in charge, and so for him, it's nothing short of humiliating to have to take orders from Ralph, especially when they're out hunting on the mountain, which Jack regards as his specialty. To that end, he insists on leading the group to the top of the mountain. As well as usurping Ralph's authority, this will make Ralph look weak in front of the other boys. Under the circumstances, Ralph has no choice but to continue on to the top of the mountain; otherwise, he will lose face.

Ralph wants to know why Jack hates him. But the reason behind Jack's animosity really isn't all that hard to spot: Ralph's the leader, a position Jack thinks is rightfully his. Jack's hatred is borne of resentment. And so he takes every possible opportunity to undermine Ralph's leadership, so that when the time comes, he'll be able to step into the breach and exercise absolute power over the other boys on the island.

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Animosity between Jack and Ralph is evident in chapter 7 as the boys are hunting for the beast. Ralph is clearly tired of Jack's lack of civility and antagonistic nature, while Jack has lost all respect for Ralph as their leader. As night falls on the island, Ralph suggests that the boys stop searching for the beast and resume in the morning. He also suggests...

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that someone walk back to informPiggy and the littluns that everything is alright. Jack immediately challenges Ralph by asking him if he would rather travel back to be with Piggy and the littluns. Ralph completely understands that Jack is his enemy and candidly asks Jack, "Why do you hate me?" (Golding, 91). Ralph can sense the animosity between him and Jack and openly addresses Jack's negative attitude towards him. Jack attempts to humiliate Ralph, forcing him to capitulate and continue climbing the mountain in order to save face.

Sensing an opportunity to make Ralph look like a coward, Jack speaks to him sarcastically and insists on leading the group to the top of the mountain. Golding writes, "Ralph heard the mockery and hated Jack" (93). Overall, Ralph and Jack hate each other in chapter 7, and Jack takes every opportunity to undermine Ralph's authority. Jack continually speaks to Ralph in a disrespectful manner, which upsets Ralph.

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Ralph and Jack's relationship is extremely strained in Chapter Seven of Lord of the Flies.  In chapter five, Piggy observes to Ralph about Jack:

"'He hates you too, Ralph--'

'Me? Why me?'

'I dunno.  You got him over the fire; an' you're chief an' he isn't'" (93).

After Piggy's insightful comment, Ralph is still not sure that Jack really hates him, but their interactions on the mountain in chapter seven confirm Piggy's insight for Ralph. 

In chapter seven, the older boys go into the jungle to search for the beast that Sam and Eric saw, and there have been minor moments when Jack and Ralph have been vying for the role of leader.  Of course, Jack has wanted to be chief all along and resents Ralph as the chief.  Jack has been antagonizing Ralph since they left the beach, making mocking comments in a "queer, tight voice" (117). 

"Ralph looked back at Jack seeing him, infuriatingly, for the first time" (117).

Ralph realizes in this moment that all of Piggy's observations about Jack Merridew are true.  Jack antagonizes Ralph because he wishes he were the chief.  Ralph asks Jack, "Why do you hate me" (118)?  Jack's lack of response confirms Ralph's belief.

The rest of the chapter, Jack attempts to outdo Ralph in bravery and leadership by guiding the boys up the mountain, using every opportunity to belittle Ralph as a leader. 

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