What could go wrong when a bunch of young boys got stranded on a deserted island for months? William Golding’s 1954 novel “Lord of the Flies” attempts to answer this question.
“Lord of the Flies” revolves around a group of boys stranded on a deserted island after their boarded plane crashed while escaping a war zone. Upon the realization that they do not have an adult to supervise and guide them, four of the boys-Ralph, Jack, Piggy, and Simon-step forward as group leaders.
The boys, led by Ralph, had a civilized system to achieve peace and common survival. The stranded boys managed a democratic design wonderfully with the help of a conch shell, Piggy’s glasses to make fires, and a vow to maintain a fire help beacon.
However, a dreadful rumor of a monster splits the already-tense relationship between the two prominent leaders, Jack and Ralph, into two groups: The civilized and the savages. Then, the island pandemonium began.
Ralph was left to lead the civilized group and the group of savages to Jack’s hands. However, is Jack a savage even from the start, or does his isolation from the modern world cause all these?
Jack is a pleasant, homely boy with light blue eyes, red hair, and a freckled face. He was the leader of the choir back home. He is one of the sensible heads that lead the group into a civilized system to keep the peace within themselves and get rescued.
In the first chapters of the novel, he also agrees to the rules saying, “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. So we’ve got to do the right things.”.
As the story proceeds, it is evident that Jack loves being stranded on the island more than he fears. He is a careless boy who enjoys his freedom on the island and resents Ralph for all the rules that challenge Jack’s taste for unsupervised fun. Things gradually take a sharp turn as Jack constantly opposes Ralph’s authority.
It is a popular theory that Jack represents “anarchy,” opposing Ralph representing law and order.
As the story progresses, Jack becomes the “savage” he refuses to become upon their arrival on the island. This is a haunting irony of his previous principle. With his taste for independence and control, Jack forms a group of followers, starting by leading the hunting group. They hunt food for everyone, but when Jack encounters a pig that escapes his hands, he vows to kill it when he sees it once again. It is believed that this scene is where Jack’s blood hunger begins.
Eventually, Jack perpetuates the originally-silly rumor of monsters at night, saying the beast exists. This leads his group of hunters not only to hunt for food but also for the beast. It might be a wonder why the rest of the boys followed this idea. However, it is safe to theorize that their age, the isolation from adult supervision, and Jack’s charisma molded their delusions and forced them into submission to Jack’s authority.
Jack’s most significant act, and one of the novel’s highlights, is slaughtering the pig to serve as a sacrifice. Jack sticks the pig’s head on a stake and orders everyone in his group to dance around it to worship the monster they were initially trying to hunt and kill. This action ripples another turning point in the novel: Simon hallucinates upon seeing flies swarming around the pig’s rotting head, calling it “Lord of the Flies.” It is safe to theorize that this is not merely a “so-that’s-what-it’s-called” moment.
Jack’s character and choices can be a firm ground on why Jack is the “Lord of the Flies.”
The novel “Lord of the Flies” is dubbed an allegory. Given this idea, the character of Jack represents anarchy and the unavoidable existence of rebellion and opposition in a civil society.
Eventually, Jack’s terror leadership ends when a ship from civilized society bumps into the deserted island. The ship saw the island burning–a fire caused by Jack’s group while trying to kill Ralph.
The boys, including Jack, succumb to a lament and cry out of holistic exhaustion as the ship captain rescues them.
This scene and Jack’s group’s response to being rescued is a chilling symbolism of human moral triumphing over violent savagery and wicked desire for control and abuse of power.
What we can learn from Jack’s character is that although, as humans, we all have innate animalistic tendencies, we are still human beings who can feel emotions and act on them based on moral standing.
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