What does the reader learn about Jack when he slashed the green candle buds in William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies?no

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The reader learns that Jack has a curious, but also destructive side to him when he slashes the green candle buds.  Unlike Simon, who feels a connection to nature and views the candle buds reverently, Jack has no such connection.  He views nature as a commodity to be controlled and used:

"Green candles," said Jack contempuously. "We can't eat them.  Come on" (30).

Shown here, Jack's contempt for nature and living things seems a small concern, but his act with the knife and the quickness with which he discounts the value of the green candle buds foreshadows that Jack would be equally quick to use the knife on something he could eat.  Interestingly enough, Jack catches a piglet only a page later in the chapter and is unable to kill it the way he did the candle bud.  The boys all understand "very well why he hadn't: because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood" (31). 

Jack's performance with the candle bud is his first act of destruction on the island, quick and deadly, foreshadowing his eventual descent into a savage hunter.

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