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

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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. 

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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 that someone walk back to inform Piggy 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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Lord of the Flies

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