In his first novel, William Golding used a group of boys stranded on a tropical island to illustrate the malicious nature of mankind. Lord of the Flies dealt with changes that the boys underwent as they gradually adapted to the isolated freedom from society. Three main characters depicted different effects on certain individuals under those circumstances. Jack Merridew began as the arrogant and self-righteous leader of a choir. The freedom of the island allowed him to further develop the darker side of his personality as the Chief of a savage tribe. Ralph started as a self-assured boy whose confidence in himself came from the acceptance of his peers. He had a fair nature as he was willing to listen to Piggy. He became increasingly dependent on Piggy's wisdom and became lost in the confusion around him. Towards the end of the story his rejection from their society of savage boys forced him to fend for himself. Piggy was an educated boy who had grown up as an outcast. Due to his academic childhood, he was more mature than the others and retained his civilized behaviour. But his experiences on the island gave him a more realistic understanding of the cruelty possessed by some people. The ordeals of the three boys on the island made them more aware of the evil inside themselves and, in some cases, made the false politeness that had clothed them disappear. However, the changes experienced by one boy differed from those endured by another. This is attributable to the physical and mental differences between them.
Jack was first described with having an air of cruelty that made him naturally unlikeable. As leader of the choir and one of the tallest boys on the island, Jack's physical height and authority matched his arrogant personality. His desire to be Chief was clearly evident in his first appearance. When the idea of having a Chief was mentioned Jack spoke out immediately. "I ought to be chief," said Jack with simple arrogance, "because I'm chapter chorister and head boy." He led his choir by administering much discipline resulting in forced obedience from the cloaked boys. His ill-nature was well expressed through his impoliteness in saying, "Shut up, Fatty." at Piggy (p. 23). However, despite his unpleasant personality, his lack of courage and his conscience prevented him from killing the first pig they encountered: "They knew very well why he hadn't: because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood" (p. 34). Even at the meetings, Jack was able to contain himself under the leadership of Ralph. He had even suggested the implementation of rules to regulate themselves.
This was a Jack who was proud to be British, and who was shaped and still bound by the laws of a civilized society. The freedom offered to him by the island allowed Jack to express the darker sides of his personality that were repressed by...