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Jack Merridew: Choir Boy Or Savage Boy?

1111 words - 4 pages

After being marooned on an unknown, uninhabited island and desperate to survive, the characters in William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies are pushed to the limits of their humanity, and no one is safe from the atrocities from within, not even the seemingly innocent littluns. In an environment where civilization does not exist, the boys of the story attempt to form a society among themselves. Among the group of boys is a young boy who stands out from the rest. Jack Merridew, the leader of the choir boys, strives to take the role of leader of the boys, and he appears to be completely competent. In the beginning, Jack seems to be innocent and civilized. Jack is the cultured leader of the boys’ choir. Although the reader’s first impression of Jack Merridew may be one of an innocent leader eager to be rescued, his true, truculent nature manifests with the development of the novel, and the reader is gripped by Jack’s true schismatic, belligerent, and iconoclastic nature.
When Jack loses the election to become chief to Ralph, it becomes apparent that Jack is schismatic and wholeheartedly intends to act against Ralph’s actions and decisions. From small nuances such as churlish remarks to fights, it is obvious that Jack intends to eventually either dethrone Ralph or form his own tribe. In one instance, Ralph assigns Jack a very simplistic task of watching the fire on the mountain, yet Jack decides that his appetence for blood and meat is more important than fulfilling his duty to the fire. Disobeying Ralph’s orders, Jack defects from his post to hunt and does not attempt to have another person tend the fire in his absence. Because of Jack’s actions, Ralph verbally scolds Jack and states to Jack, “You talk. But you can’t even build huts- then you go off hunting and let out the fire” (71). By openly criticizing Jack, Ralph makes it openly known that Jack is not pulling his share within the tribe and that he is constantly defying the established rules and regulations. In the following meeting, Ralph acknowledges the schism that has appeared in the group “Things are breaking up. I don’t understand why. We began well; we were happy. And then-” (82) he states. Days later, after the initial beast hunt, an assembly is called during which Jack asks, “Who thinks Ralph oughtn’t to be chief?” (127). It is at this point Jack announces that he is no longer going to tolerate being under Ralph’s rule by stating, “I’m going off by myself. He can catch his own pigs. Anybody who wants to hunt when I do can come too” (127). Jack withdraws entirely from Ralph’s tribe and establishes his own tribe. It is evident at this point that Jack is determined to rule himself and others, even if it means breaking everybody up.
After gaining the support of his new followers, Jack acts empowered over others and demonstrates belligerence. Jack, now unrestricted by Ralph’s orders, submits to his bloodlust and craving for meat by spending the majority of his time hunting. After giving...

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