Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding
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When does Jack contrast with what you expect in Lord of the Flies?

Jack’s behavior contrasts with the reader’s expectations both when he fails to kill the pig and when he begins to enjoy killing for its own sake. From the beginning, Jack evidently considers himself a leader and values the other boys’ admiration. His role as head of the hunting party only satisfies him for a while. At the ritual feast, it becomes clear how much he loves power, including his ability to make the others kill.

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Much of Lord of the Flies is devoted to demonstrating and examining the differences in leadership style between Ralph and Jack. While Ralph is a natural leader, his main concerns are the orderly functioning of society as related to the goal of getting rescued. Jack has a very different personality. He wants a leadership role because he thrives on the admiration and obedience of others. His concern with leadership is evident from his first appearance, when he is described as “the boy who controlled” the other choir boys.

Because Jack aggressively promotes the pig hunt, one point where his behavior goes against expectations comes when he does not kill the first pig. Although he claims his concern is for the meat, he gets furious when he thinks Ralph is accusing him of failure. As Jack later gains in status by successfully guiding his “tribe” in the pig hunt, he is dissatisfied because Ralph is still considered the chief.

A second place where the reader’s understanding of Jack’s personality changes is when the narrator reveals that he enjoys killing for the thrill it gives him, not for the food it yields. This bloodthirsty streak is intrinsically connected to his need for power. At the feast, the prey becomes human, not animal. He derives an unhealthy enjoyment from his ability to get the other boys to “kill the Beast,” which is in reality Simon.

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