Lord of the Flies



If Ralph grows as a character and develops his identity, Jack does just the opposite. He begins with the surname Merridew, asserts that he will go by his first name, Jack (which is itself often an abbreviated derivation of the Christian name John), and finishes as “chief” of the savages. In fact, by the end of the novel, Golding ceases to apply the name “Jack” to him at all. Jack descends into such savagery and barbarism that he loses whatever humanity he had, willingly holds boys against their will, indulges in terrorism, torture, paganism, and murder, and is referred to solely by the title he has appropriated from Ralph. His cruelty is matched only by that of Roger, who acts as a perfect henchman.

It may be argued that Jack is proof that humanity will sink to dark depths when conventional order and societal restraint are abolished. This argument is somewhat insubstantial, however. All of the boys experience the same expulsion from a society of law and order, and not all of the boys behave as lowly as Jack does. It would seem, rather, that Jack “takes the bait.” That is, he falls for the temptation offered by the Lord of the Flies: the idea that it is better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.

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