In Lord of the Flies, why do the boys eventually choose Jack as their chief? Haven’t they any common sense?

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robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jack, Golding makes very clear right from the start, is a charismatic, authoritative and natural leader. Here's Piggy's reaction to the first few lines Jack speaks:

Piggy asked no names. He was intimidated by this uniformed superiority and the offhand authority in Merridew’s voice. He shrank to the other side of Ralph and busied himself with his glasses.

The glasses, the symbol of clear-sightedness and democracy, are ironically enough, the opposite to Jack's one-man tyranny. Jack, right from the start, has the natural quality of a leader - he says "do this", and people do it.

At the start, of course, he isn't elected chief, though it's obvious to the boys that he is a natural leader:

Jack started to protest but the clamor changed from the general wish for a chief to an election by acclaim of Ralph himself. None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack.

Jack gradually makes the glamour and excitement of hunting and finding pigs, as well as the idea of an army and violence, appeal to the boys. Before long, he's shouting "Bollocks to the rules", and leading the boys in adrenalin-filled dances. It's all very attractive.

And they do have common sense. But glamour and excitement are attractive... even Ralph, the Everyman of the boys, finds "the desire to squeeze and hurt... overmastering". Even Ralph joins in with the dance which kills Simon.


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Lord of the Flies

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