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Jack's Statement in Lord of the Flies

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Lord of the Flies - We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all,
we’re not savages, Page 42, Chapter 2. Discuss Jack’s statement in the
light of events if Chapters 1 – 5.

Essay Question: “We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all,
we’re not savages”, Page 42, Chapter 2. Discuss Jack’s statement in
the light of events if Chapters 1 – 5.

This particular statement seems to be contradicted and supported
during various parts of the story. When Jack first makes this
statement, he is not aware of what lies in their future, and how they
will take their first steps into savagery in order to satisfy their
need to survive on the island upon which darkness and doubt has
descended after the ecstasy of freedom had been spent.

In chapter 1, the boys are excited about their freedom, especially
since there are no adults to tell them what to do. But their old ways
somehow make them continue to adhere to their civilised ways and they
quickly elect a leader (Ralph) and decide what should be done.
Obviously, the boys still display some of their child-like qualities,
for example when Ralph was teasing Piggy about his name. But Ralph is
the boy who shows the qualities of a leader. He manages to spread
peace and order among the boys, and compromises with Jack, who wanted
to be the leader. Ralph allows Jack to be the leader of his choir, who
were given the role of hunters. They set about the first necessary
tasks in an orderly manner. When Ralph, Jack and Piggy enter the
jungle, Jack attempts to kill a pig, but his conscience stops him and
he lets the pig escape. But in defence of his pride, he claims that he
was “choosing a place to stab the pig”. But even Ralph could see why
he didn’t go in for the kill. It would somehow prove their descent
into savagery, and this is not what they wanted at the time.

Chapter 2 is where the group begin to express their doubts and the
first sign of dispute appears. At first, a meeting is called. Although
this is an act of civilisation, the meeting gives way to a quarrel. A
system is created which allows only the person holding the conch to
speak. Ralph orders that people wishing to speak must put their hands
up, “like at school”. Ralph imposes orders from school because they
are practical and the boys would understand them. Jack wants to impose
lots of rules. But he doesn’t do this to bring order to the group; he
does it so that he can punish whoever breaks them. This shows that
Jack is not one to be crossed, and that he enjoys seeing, and being a
part of, the downfall of others. You could interpret this as an act of
mild savagery, or just a character trait, which Jack had even in his
days back home. Further on in the meeting, the issue of a “beastie”,
or a snake-like creature which one of the smaller boys claims to have
seen. The bigger kids laugh and jeer at him. This shows that it is not
taken seriously. But the feeling of unrest is still induced. Jack
tries to console the child by saying that he will kill the creature,
much to the annoyance of Ralph, who wants to make it clear that there
is no “beastie”. The subject turns to their rescue. It is decided that
they will be rescued, and so they formulate a plan. Ralph suggests
they construct a fire, but then Jack rushes off with the other boys,
caught up in the excitement of building a fire. Jack snatches Piggy’s
glasses to light the fire. This is quite cruel, a s Piggy’s sight is a
disability to him, and without his glasses he can’t see. In their
excitement, the group don’t notice the disappearance of one of the
smaller kids. Piggy points this out. It is assumed that he was killed
in the blaze, which, with lack of attention, had spread and burnt a
part of the island. Jack’s statement is not thoroughly contradicted
here, but it gives weak support.

Chapter 3 sees the failed attempt to bring sustenance and shelter to
the island. Jack attempts to get his first kill, but it escapes his
grasp. His hunters had abandoned him to go and play. Ralph was trying
to build huts on the beach, but the group of workers had abandoned
him, too. All, except Simon, who seems incredibly mature and
intelligent for his age. A feud springs up between Jack and Ralph;
Ralph thinks it more necessary to tend to the fire and build huts, and
is annoyed by how Jack wants only to hunt pigs. Also Jack annoys Ralph
by expressing his concern on the issue of the “beastie”, and how he
can relate to what the children are saying. This is not a savage
argument; the boys are still only incorporating childish anger in
their attitudes.

Chapter 4 starts rather unusually. A boy named Roger is throwing
stones at a boy named Henry. But he is aiming to miss, his mind
denying him permission to harm the child, as he would not have been
able to do so back home. This suggests that the boy wants to do harm,
but can’t. He is being controlled, or almost suppressed, by “ a
civilisation that knew nothing of him and was in ruins”. After this
scene we are brought to Jack. He is making a mask for himself, to
serve as a disguise from the pigs which he hopes to hunt and kill. But
when he gets the desired look, he transforms into another person,
allowing himself to hide behind the mask and express himself in a way
that makes him feel freer. In his newfound excitement, he and his
hunters abandon the fire to go hunting. The fire goes out. Ralph spots
a ship pass the island, but since the fire was out, there was nothing
to attract the ship. Ralph becomes angry at Jack. Jack and his
hunters, meanwhile, had succeeded in finding and killing a pig.. he
expects a hero’s welcome down on the beach, but is greeted with the
anger of Ralph. He still tries to wipe aside this fault, so he can
show off his spoils. The killing excites all the hunters. They
chanted, “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood”. This is a
clear sign of savagery. Jack is angered by Ralph, and as he can’t take
this out on him, he takes it out instead on Piggy, who he punches
twice, breaking his glasses. Ralph makes him apologise, but it seems
their friendship is over, and Ralph is beginning to form a friendship
with Piggy.

Chapter 5 is mainly based on a meeting. Ralph, who hopes to address
some points of his concern, calls this meeting. Firstly Ralph talks
about how the group are not working hard enough to contribute to the
well-being of their new lifestyle. Then he talks about how they are
going about thins in an uncivilised way. For example, they are not
using the indicated places as toilets, but they are doing it
everywhere. Then he talks about the idea of the “beastie”. The small
kids had been having nightmares. It is suggested that they are scared
of each other, or a ghost, or a sea-creature. The meeting does not go
as planned; it breaks up leaving Ralph, Piggy and Simon behind,
seemingly the only sane ones left. By now Jack’s statement is
completely contradicted; the boys have left their civilised ways and
turned into savages.

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