In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, how has Jack's appearance changed by the last chapter?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Jack first appears in Lord of the Flies in Chapter 1, he is dressed like a choir boy in a robe and black cap. Jack is the model of decorum, and he feels like he should be the leader. He is described as freckled, bony, and ugly, and he has bright red hair, symbolic of the blood he will later thirst for. He quickly discards his robe and grabs a knife in a sheath. Jack eventually also discards his shoes, and he goes about with bare feet.

By Chapter 2, he becomes dirty, as he chases wild piglets on the island and tries to slaughter them, and he is covered with dirt and blood. He is often carrying the knife or a long spear about with him. Jack covers his face with colored chalk that he finds on the island. He is the image of savagery, and he has already forgotten about the prospect of being rescued. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jack's appearance changes in interesting ways throughout Lord of the Flies. The first time Jack experiments with wearing paint is in chapter 4. After that, he wears some paint when he hunts. Even in chapter 7, however, Jack continues to look like the other boys. As Ralph watches the hunters eating, he notices the state of their clothes. All of them still wear their clothes, even though they are "put on, not for decorum or comfort but out of custom." In chapter 8, however, Jack tries to lead a rebellion against Ralph and calls for a vote to remove Ralph as chief. When that vote doesn't go his way, he decides he is "not going to play any longer. Not with you." He then leaves Ralph's group and establishes his own tribe with his hunters, the boys who were originally part of the choir, who still wear their choir caps. After they kill a pig, they realize they have no way to cook it since Ralph's group has the fire and the means of starting it. Jack decides they will steal some fire. In preparation for that confrontation, they put on paint. 

During the surprise visit, "demoniac figures with faces of white and red and green rushed out howling." While two boys steal fire, Jack and two others remain to talk to Ralph's group. Jack is "stark naked save for paint and a belt." 

In chapter 9, at Jack's feast, he is "painted and garlanded" as he sits on the log that serves as his throne. In chapter 10, when Jack's tribe has moved to Castle Rock, Jack is described as "naked to the waist, his face blocked out in white and red." At the end of the book, Jack appears before the naval officer as "a little boy who wore the remains of an extraordinary black cap on his red hair and who carried the remains of a pair of spectacles at his waist."

Jack's changing appearance throughout the novel tracks his descent into savagery as well as his claim to leadership and power. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

By the end of the novel, Jack has adopted a mask to hide behind. He paints his face and has become one with the "kill or be killed environment" in which he lives. He reminds one of remote tribes where superstition and death reign supreme. The mask allows Jack to abandon the civilized world of which he was a part. When he paints his face, he is no longer Jack. He is the hunter, the tribal leader, the killer of pigs and other things. The mask allows him the freedom to be his id.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial