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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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How is Jack elected as the chief in Lord of the Flies?

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Near the beginning of the novel, Jack and Ralph are both trying to be chosen as "chief" of the boys. Jack states that he should be chief because of his position in the choir:

“I ought to be chief,” said Jack with simple arrogance, “because I’m chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp.”

Ultimately, though, Ralph is the boy who is elected chief. This is most likely because he holds the conch shell, which the boys see as a symbol of power and leadership:

“Ralph! Ralph!”

“Let him be chief with the trumpet-thing.”

Jack is definitely not happy that he is not selected as chief, but Ralph does try to give Jack some leadership roles by putting Jack in charge of the hunters:

“Jack’s in charge of the choir. They can be—what do you want them to be?”


Despite that role, Jack is never quite satisfied with his position or Ralph's leadership, and Jack slowly begins to wear away at Ralph's power. Jack eventually becomes the leader that most of the boys follow; however, Jack is never officially elected as chief.

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Jack is never elected chief. At the beginning of the novel, the boys decide to elect Ralph because he is holding the conch. As the novel progresses, Ralph proves to be an ineffective leader and the boys gradually begin to favor Jack. Jack proves to be a fearless hunter and natural leader. Although Jack's initial attempt to usurp power fails, the majority of the boys decide to join his tribe. The boys enjoy Jack's tribe because he takes them hunting, provides them with meat, and allows them to play. Unlike Ralph, Jack appeals to the boys' primitive instincts. Eventually, Jack turns out to be a tyrannical ruler who uses fear and punishment to control his band of savages. Although Jack is never technically elected chief, he ends up gaining power by appealing to the boys' savage nature and claiming that Ralph is an effective leader. 

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