Throughout the book, how does Jack's character change? What are some quotes that demonstrate this change?

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andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning Jack assumes a formal stance by questioning arrogantly why he should be called Jack and not Jack Merridew. He believes that the others' names are just 'kids' names,' implying that he isn't one and should, therefore, be addressed formally, with respect. It is also he who is the first to say, “We’ve got to decide about being rescued,” a statement which achieves a hollow irony, as far as he is concerned, as the novel progresses. Although he is not chosen as leader, there seems to be no resentment on his part when Ralph is chosen. In fact, the two boys display a 'shy liking' for each other.

When Ralph suggests that he lead the hunters, Jack immediately takes charge and instructs them to take off their togs. Jack is in a convivial and cooperative mood when he, Ralph and Simon go off to establish whether they are on an island. When they encounter a trapped piglet, Jack draws his knife but is unable to kill it, allowing the frenzied animal to escape. He declares afterwards:

“I was going to, I was choosing a place. Next time—!"

It is also Jack who, when the importance of the conch is discussed during a meeting, responds:

“We’ll have rules!” he cried excitedly. “Lots of rules! Then when anyone breaks ’em–”

At this stage, he is more than willing to abide to the rules and asks for the conch in order to speak. He is also keen to assist in collecting firewood to start a signal fire and puts in as much effort as the others. All these aspects about him are to change as the story progresses.

The first indication of Jack's resistance to the rules is when he tells Piggy that the conch 'doesn't count on top of the mountain,' a decision he has arbitrarily made. He does, however, later ask for the conch and repeats what he had said earlier about having rules:

“I agree with Ralph. We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything. So we’ve got to do the right things.”

Jack's obsession with hunting is what makes him start neglecting his other duties and brings him in conflict with Ralph. The two argue about building shelters and Ralph accuses him and his hunters of not doing much to help, stating that it is hard work. Jack also resents the fact that Ralph reminds him of keeping the fire going. It becomes Ralph's fire and he shouts at him - "You and your fire!"

One can perceive a gradual withdrawal on Jack's part from the duties which they have all decided on. The rules he had insisted were important, are being ignored by him and since he is their leader, by the hunters as well. The more immersed he becomes in the idea of hunting, the more stubborn and uncooperative he becomes.

When he and the hunters allow the fire to go out at the most crucial point, when a ship is seen on the horizon, and he is confronted, he lashes out violently. He hits Piggy in the stomach and on the head, sending his glasses flying. He and his hunters have finally killed a pig and are proud of their achievement. Piggy's reminder of their neglect humiliates him and he responds savagely.

It is in chapter five when the storm breaks. It is here that Jack expresses his disgust for the rules. In his confrontation with Ralph during talk about 'a beast,' and Piggy's sharp criticism about hunting and 'letting out fires' he starts talking without having the conch. When Ralph reminds him of the rules, he asks 'Who cares?' When Ralph reminds him that the rules are the only thing they have, he shouts:

“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—!”

It is clear that Jack's innate savagery has taken control of him. His lust for killing and blood has made him irrational. He has become aggressive and rebellious. In chapter eight, he finally decides to leave the group and go out on his own. He is humiliated when he asks the group about who does not want Ralph to be chief and no one responds. His hunters soon join him and the boys are later separated into two distinct groups when others also decide to join him.

After this, Jack and his followers know no bounds. They become beasts of prey and their actions result in the deaths of Simon and Piggy, the destruction of the conch, the capture of Sam 'n Eric and the hunt for Ralph. Jack has gone from being a civilised English schoolboy to a rampant, bloodthirsty predator - the animal which Simon and Piggy intimated they all had inside.

megboland eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the beginning of the novel Jack desires power and is furious when he loses the election to Ralph, however, he retains the values of civilized behavior that he had as the leader of the choirboys in school. He is unable to kill a pig the first time he encounters one, however, as the book continues he becomes obsessed with hunting and goes beyond hunting for food, to painting his face and killing for the rush. Jack becomes more savage and instinctual, leaving behind the values of propriety and civilization. He uses fear of the beast to control the other boys and becomes the book’s representation of savagery, violence, and the all encompassing desire for power.

mike420sveny | Student

im pretty sure that jack didnt like the fact that he wasnt going to be the leader but was ok with it for quite some time untill he had to follow the rules. He wanted to have fun and control his choir at the same time.he couldnt do anything he wanted unless he was the leader so he tryed to revolt and do what he wanted which was to have fun. he thought hunting would be more fun than attending a fire for there rescue he is so over whelmed by the fact that there trapped on and island and is under the impression that they will never be rescued so he

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Lord of the Flies

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