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How Jack has developed so far in the novel by looking closely at significant passages in the novel

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  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1074
  • Category: Novel

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ack’s character sees significant changes during the first four chapters of ‘Lord of the Flies’ and it is clear that aspects of this character develop further and will continue to develop throughout the novel. From the start of the novel aspects of Jack’s character make themselves apparent. When Jack and the choir first appears in the book the reader can sense that Jack despite only being young himself holds order over the choir, being described as ‘the boy who controlled them’.

Despite the lack of adult presence, the choir is ‘wearily obedient’ of Jack and his presence is strongly felt by the reader from the first instance. Jack’s attitude towards Piggy, rudeness without any caution, is also recognised early on, ‘You’re talking too much, shut up Fatty’ and Piggy’s intimidation, ‘he went very pink, bowed his head and cleaned his glasses again’, indicates Jack’s presence amongst the other characters and not only in the novel itself.

In spite of Jack’s rudeness and self-assurance,’I ought to be chief’, these negative aspects of his character do not develop until further on into the novel and on page 27 of the book we are reminded of Jack’s age, ‘Come on, we’re explorers’. Nevertheless, it is important to realise that his presence is firmly felt very early and this already signals an opportunity for these factors to manifest into more significant and influential aspects. Influential not only to the other characters but also to the unfolding events which will occur later on.

The relationship between Jack and Ralph develops alongside Jack’s behavior developments. The relationship between the two boys is described early on as one of mutual respect and understanding,’Jack and Ralph smiled at eachother with shy liking’. Until Jack’s character and the forthcoming events influence the relationship it is clear that there is originally enough room on the island for two liked and respected characters, both of who strive for the respect of the other boys.

On page 32 of the book it is one of the first times Jack mentions hunting to gather food, ‘We’ll get food, hunt. Catch things… ‘ but this proves itself as a civilised practicality in Jack’s character. Hunting, an aspect of island life that is a huge factor in Jack’s development, has not yet morphed into an overbearingly negative feature and has yet to show itself as an activity not for practicality but savagery. When the first hunting expedition is described on pages 32 and 33, the word ‘slashed’ is used to describe Jack’s use of his knife.

This alarmingly adult word brings to light the first traces of a more savage Jack Merridew and William Golding uses this word cleverly and, what only can be realised later on in the novel, as an indication of Jack’s capabilities. Despite this, there are only traces of what the future may hold for Jack and as Jack’s first hunting ‘adventure’ is one of boyish excitement, savagery has not yet developed, ‘The boys rushed forward and Jack drew his knife again with a flourish’. When Jack fails to catch the piglet he quickly defends his actions.

As mentioned earlier he feels a need to defend himself, Jack will not be laughed at and his reliance on hero-worship is apparent. ‘I was choosing a place, I was just waiting for a moment to decide where to stab him’. Though soon after his childlike state is reiterated in Golding’s words and why Jack did not kill the pig shows his failure to bring himself to do it and his evident young age. ‘ The enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood’.

At the start of chapter two Jack’s urge to hunt still remains mostly a practical want. It is obvious the powerful aspects of his character, reliance on respect and worship and self-assurance, force his mind to set on coming back from his previous humiliation (failing to kill piglet),’All the same you need an army-for hunting. Hunting pigs-‘. The mood changes on page 40 when cold-blooded killing is mentioned by Jack for the first time, not killing for food and without any other options mentioned, ‘If there was a snake, we’d hunt it and kill it’.

Jack’s need for respect has developed because by hunting and carrying out activities others will not he is retaining the respect first earned at the beginning of the novel due to his presence of character. ‘All at once the crowd swayed towards the island and were gone-following Jack’. Chapter three signals the major change in Jack’s behavior and through describing his actions and appearance, ‘His sandy hair considerably longer than it had been’, displays his development from civilised young boy to bloodthirsty savage,’except for a pair of tattered shorts held up by his knife-belt he was naked’.

This is a huge development for Jack and the contrast between Jack Merridew, head choirboy, and Jack Merridew, savage hunter is sharp and shocking, ‘They were bright blue, eyes that in this frustration seemed bolting and nearly mad’. Jack’s previously firm and distinguished voice has been replaced for noises and gasps,’Jack shrank himself at this cry with a hiss of indrawn breath’, and he can be compared to an animal hunting its prey,’became less a hunter than a furtive thing, ape-like’.

Jack is no longer a hunter, superior to the creature he is hunting but a predator seeking its prey. Whereas earlier on in the novel, despite the apparent fact that Jack’s interest in hunting and killing was developing negatively, his age was always evident. ‘Jack stood there, streaming with sweat, streaked with brown earth, stained by all the vicissitudes of a day’s hunting’. By the impact of this sentence there are no longer traces obvious to the reader which indicate Jack’s age. He is no longer a young boy with an exciting interest but an ageless nameless creature.

Another signal of the transformation from a practical need to hunt into a animal instinct is on page 55,’ He tried to convey the compulsion to track down and kill that was swallowing him up’. The word compulsion gives an idea of an addiction, a yearning no longer limited by his own civilised control and ‘swallowing him up’ not only stands in the context of his desire to hunt but of the disappearance of the old Jack Merridew. The old Jack has been swallowed up by a stronger animal instinct, not given the chance to develop before being stranded on this desert island free from adult authority.

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