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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Which three quotes from Lord of the Flies best depict Jack's descent into savagery?

Quick answer:

Three quotations from Lord of the Flies that describe Jack turning from civility and becoming savage are "He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling," "He giggled and flicked them while the boys laughed at his reeking palms," and "See? See? That's what you'll get! I meant that! There isn't a tribe for you anymore! The conch is gone."

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In chapter 3, we see Jack's physical decline into a more primitive state:

Jack put down his spear and squatted.

“Noticed what?”

“Well. They’re frightened.”

He rolled over and peered into Jack’s fierce, dirty face.

Jack holds a spear, a primitive weapon, as he squats. This imagery of an inability to remain upright while engaging in conversation with the more civilized Ralph reflects Jack's decline into a more savage form. His face is also dirty; he has given up civilized norms of cleaning and making a good appearance. He is "fierce," the adjective indicating his lack of human compassion or understanding. His description here is animal-like.

This physical transformation continues in chapter 4:

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.

Jack has created a mask for himself, a way to hide his civilized appearance. With this new mask, he feels free to be what he truly desires—savage. He is "excited" with the face of a "stranger" who looks back at him in the reflection of the water. This mask transforms Jack by allowing him to hide away all that remains within him of civilization and order.

One of the more pivotal moments toward Jack's decline into savagery is when he and the group kill the pig in chapter 8:

Then Jack found the throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands. The sow collapsed under them and they were heavy and fulfilled. . .At last the immediacy of the kill subsided. The boys drew back, and Jack stood up, holding out his hands.

“Look.”

He giggled and flicked them while the boys laughed at his reeking palms.

No one could fault a group of boys for trying to find food, but the pleasure Jack takes in the kill and the way the blood makes him "giggle" is the real indication that his grasp on civilized thought is gone. Jack takes pleasure in pain, death, and bloodlust. At this point, it is clear that Jack is on a path of destruction and that anyone or anything representing order stands in direct opposition to his goals.

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The first quote that I have in mind clearly shows Jack's initial desire for rules, order, and civility.  

"We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages. We're English, and the English are best at everything."

This quote comes from chapter 2, and it clearly shows that Jack is on board with things like having a leader, establishing rules, and people following rules.  Unfortunately for everybody involved, Jack does not enjoy following the rules that have been set forth by anybody other than him.  

I have two quotes in mind for showing Jack struggling with staying civil.  The first one is from chapter 3.  

[Jack] tried to convey the compulsion to track down and kill that was swallowing him up.

"I went on. I thought, by myself—"

The madness came into his eyes again.

"I thought I might kill." 

This shows that Jack's desire for savagery and killing is there.  It shows that it is building, but Jack is currently keeping it at bay.  In the next chapter, readers get a view that shows Jack losing control and letting some of his new savagery be seen by others.  

[Jack] began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling. 

The "bloodthirsty snarling" is something that readers would associate with a savage beast.  He is no longer an innocent choir boy.  

The final quote that shows Jack having fully embraced his inner savage is from chapter 8.  It is the part where Jack mutilates a pig during his kill.  

The spear moved forward inch by inch and the terrified squealing became a high-pitched scream. Then Jack found the throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands. The sow collapsed under them […].

At last the immediacy of the kill subsided. The boys drew back, and Jack stood up, holding out his hands.

“Look.”

He giggled and flecked them while the boys laughed at his reeking palms. Then Jack grabbed Maurice and rubbed the stuff over his cheeks . . .

“Right up her ass!” 

At this point, Jack's hunting is no longer about acquiring enough food for everybody.  Jack hunts and kills for the pleasure of stalking his prey and killing it.  However, Jack enjoys more than just killing his prey.  He enjoys torturing his prey during the kill.  There is nothing civil about Jack's actions at this point.  

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Jack's transformation from proper English schoolboy to ruthless, savage killer is one of the most shocking in the Lord of the Flies.  Like the naval officer at the end of the novel, the reader, too, is left wondering how come a group of nice, English boys could so quickly deteriorate into a wild pack of savages.  The answer, of course, is Jack.  His challenge of authority and own personal descent into violence sets an extremely negative example for some of the other, more impressionable boys.

The first moment in Jack's regression into a savage occurs the first time the boys experiment with making masks.  Jack "looked in astonishment, no longer at himself but an awesome stranger" (63).  The mask liberates Jack from his inhibitions, giving him the boldness to act, freeing him from "shame and self-consciousness" (64).  Only moments later, Jack makes his first kill.

"There were lashings of blood," said Jack, laughing and shuddering, "you should have seen it!"

The thrill of the kill is upon Jack, making him feel powerful and respected for his ability in the tribe among the other boys.  Jack has come to see violence as a tool, helping him to gain power in the tribe.  This sentiment is never more evident than immediately after Piggy's death.  Jack uses the horrifying moment to solidify his power over the other boys:

"Suddenly Jack bounded out from the tribe and began screaming wildly.

'See? See? That's what you'll get! I meant that! There isn't a tribe for you anymore! The conch is gone--'

He ran forward, stooping.

'I'm chief!' (181)

Any aspect or claim to civilization on the island died with Piggy and the destruction of the conch.  By now, Jack has completely given himself over to savagery, first by demanding Ralph's exile and then later by planning his death.  Ralph can only guess what fate awaits him at Jack's hands:

'What could they do? Beat him? So what? Kill him? A stick sharpened at both ends" (198).

The stick sharpened at both ends suggests that Jack means to kill Ralph and then mount his head on the stick, as he did the sow's head.  Jack has truly become a savage; by planning to treat Ralph as the hunters did the sow, Jack has completely lost all value for human life.

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