What does the boys' choir/the hunters represent in The Lord of the Flies?

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From the very start of the novel, Jack is in charge of a group he calls the choir, largely because he himself was a chorister. It is this choir that becomes the core of Jack's group of hunters.

The choir/hunters represent the irrational, which clashes with and eventually overpowers the rationality represented by Ralph and Piggy. It is telling that from the start Jack refers to his followers as a choir, because a choir is strongly associated with religion, and much of what motivates religious belief is the emotional. Religion, by definition, transcends scientific rationality. Religion is also most often associated with obedience to higher authority—some form of the divine—rather than the equality associated with democracy and rationalism.

From the start, the choir is obedient to Jack and is associated with faith rather than reason. It becomes easy for this group to morph into the primal, emotional, and highly ritualistic hunting group that Jack rules. As the boys recede further from civilization, they fall into an irrationalism that derives from primitive drives and emotions.

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The hunters represent the savagery of the breakdown of the boys’ civilization.

When the boys first land on the island, they attempt to maintain order and form a system of government that mimics civilization.  They elect a leader, Ralph, and decide to build shelters and start a signal fire.  However, the breakdown begins right from the beginning.  This is because from the start there are two factions:  Jack’s and Ralph’s.

Ralph is only chosen leader because he is the one who blows the conch, which he finds and blows because Piggy tells him to.  This imbues him with a kind of mystic power that causes the other boys to see him as special.  From the beginning, Jack is a threat to his power.  Jack already has a following in the choir.  He also already has leadership skills.  He insists that he should be chief because he is choirmaster, but he is voted out.

Jack might have leadership skills, but he has a savage side.  This is hinted at by his reaction to the idea of having rules, and punishing those who break them.

Jack was on his feet.

“We’ll have rules!” he cried excitedly. “Lots of rules! Then when anyone breaks ’em–” (Ch. 1)

As soon as the hunters begin hunting, they start chanting about killing pigs and cutting their throats, and soon they are painting their faces and doing war dances.  They descend more and more into savage and primeval uncivilized behavior until they break off from the group entirely and the rest of the boys join them.  They do not build shelters and maintain civilization.  Instead, they fulfill their base desires.

Jack’s savagery is further demonstrated when he is seen tying up boys and beating them for what seems to be little or no reason.

The chief was sitting there, naked to the waist, his face blocked out in white and red. The tribe lay in a semicircle before him. The newly beaten and untied Wilfred was sniffing noisily in the background. (Ch. 9)

In the end, this savagery results in the death of both Simon and Piggy.  The end of civilization is complete.  The boys began by trying to mimic civilization, and in the end they found themselves destroying each other completely.  This is represented by the hunters and the choir.

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