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Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Jack's savagery, dictatorial, and selfish behavior in Lord of the Flies


In Lord of the Flies, Jack's savagery is evident through his violent actions and obsession with hunting. His dictatorial behavior is shown by his desire for absolute control and power over the other boys, rejecting democratic processes. Jack's selfishness is highlighted by his prioritization of his own desires over the group's well-being, ultimately leading to chaos and conflict.

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Can you provide an example of Jack's savagery in Lord of the Flies?

The character Jack represents humanity's ugliness and its evils, so he partakes in many examples of "savagery."

Even from the beginning of the novel, Jack is cruel to Piggy, a weaker boy. Jack infamously attacks Piggy, breaking his glasses, in one of his first truly "savage" acts. Soon after, this leads to Jack executing a violent raid in order to steal Piggy's glasses. Although he could have gained the glasses (and their ability to start fires) peacefully, he chooses this violent, savage method instead.

The most obviously savage acts in the novel are murder. Jack is part of the frenzied mob the kills Simon. This shows Jack escalating in his savagery, which comes to a boiling point when he plans to murder Ralph and burns the island to "smoke" the other boy out.

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Can you provide an example of Jack's savagery in Lord of the Flies?

There are numerous points in the book where Jack behaves with what one could term savagery, and these savage behaviors become more intense as the novel progresses. One of his first savage acts is when he plows into Piggy's stomach and breaks his glasses. Although he is actually mad at himself, to some extent, for letting the signal fire go out just as the ship was passing the island, and he is mad at Ralph for being in the right and for having reprimanded him, he takes out his anger on Piggy—someone who is less respected by the group and weaker. By violently targeting a weaker person, he is behaving with savagery.

Later, when he has separated from Ralph's group and needs fire for his own tribe, he raids Ralph's camp during the night, and he and his boys beat up Ralph's group and steal Piggy's glasses. This was unnecessary because Ralph would have shared fire with Jack's group, but Jack chooses violence as his way to get what he wants.

During Jack's frenzied feast, Jack and all the other boys murder Simon in a savage mob attack.

When Jack sets up his camp on Castle Rock, he has the boys keep Wilfred tied up all day, and then he beats him, which is another act of savagery—this time against his own followers.

Finally, after Piggy's death, Jack plans to hunt Ralph and kill him. He sets fire to the island to smoke Ralph out of his hiding place. He is ready to commit bold premeditated murder—his greatest act of savagery.

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Can you provide examples of Jack's dictatorial and selfish behavior in Lord of the Flies?

Chapter 4 is a great place to start. During this chapter, Jack undergoes a transformation particularly after the children paint their faces following his example. This narration portrays his transformation:

He looked in astonishment, no longer at himself but at an awesome stranger. He spilt the water and leapt to his feet, laughing excitedly. Beside the pool his sinewy body held up a mask that drew their eyes and appalled them. He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling. He capered toward Bill, and the mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness.

This passage demonstrates his awe at his own developing character. His "laughing excitedly" reminds me of an evil villan about to terrorize a town. The mask threatens his friends demonstrating his dictatorship. He sheds his inhibitions and no longer fears the opinions of others, but from this point forward he certainly envokes their fear.

Jack's moment of complete selfishness occurs when he leaves the group because they won't elect him chief over Ralph:

“I’m not going to play any longer. Not with you.”

Most of the boys were looking down now, at the grass or their feet. Jack cleared his throat again.

“I’m not going to be a part of Ralph’s lot—” He looked along the right-hand logs, numbering the hunters that had been a choir.

“I’m going off by myself. He can catch his own pigs. Anyone who wants to hunt when I do can come too.”

This entire passage demonstrates that Jack cares only about himself and his need for authority over others. Because they refuse to choose him as leader he just quits the society. This happened in chapter 7.

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What type of bad behavior does Jack display in Lord of the Flies?

Cruelty to others (especially to Piggy and the Littl'uns), cruelty to animals, militant dictator behavior, and murder.  Where would you like to start?

Cruelty to others:  Jack consistently taunts Piggy and even turns many of the other boys against him.  He cruelly steals Piggy's glasses so that his tribe can be in control of making fire, leaving Piggy virtually blind.  Once Jack proclaims himself chief, he uses cruel punishment for going against him in any way.  Jack has Roger beat one of the lilttle'uns as proof of his power.

Cruelty to animals: Granted, the boys need to eat.  However, when the boys kill the mother sow, they leave the piglets to die without a mother to feed them.  Jack and his tribe of boys do horrific acts to the dead sow, one of which is raping it with a spear.

Militant Dictator behavior: this goes along with the cruelty to others.  Jack's word is law in his tribe.  Anyone who goes against him are severely punished.  He even tries to hunt and kill Ralph.

Murder:  While Jack didn't actually push the boulder that killed Piggy (Roger did that), he is responsible nevertheless.  Roger was a flunky acting on Jack's behalf.

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