Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jack Merridew in Lord of The Flies

Jack Merrydew was the main antagonist in Lord of The Flies. He arrived at the isolated island as the head of a group of choir boys.

Inside the floating cloak he was tall, thin, and bony; and his hair was red beneath the black cap. His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of this face stared two light blue eyes, frustrated now, and turning, or ready to turn, to anger.

From the beginning we could see that Jack was a leader. While all the other boys—in fear and without adult supervision—wandered confusedly around the island after the plane crash, Jack had managed to assemble his group orderly. All the boys listened to him, obeyed him. However, from the beginning also, I have sensed vaguely a kind of wicked passion in this boy. From above quote, Jack was pictured as being ‘frustrated and was going to be angry’, while it was still at the beginning, nothing had yet happened.

Without any reasonable reason, Jack already hated Piggy from the first time Piggy was involved in the conversation. In a harsh manner Jack howled Piggy to ‘shut up’ and called him Fatty. I could not understand, even now, why Jack hated Piggy so much from the beginning (and persisted till the end), while Piggy did nothing to him. Was it because Jack has a superior sense in him, that the shyness of Piggy was unbearable to him? I think so, and I think it is the same reason of most bullying cases everywhere.

[before] Jack - the head of choir boys

In his superiority, Jack never thought that there would be anyone else who was more capable than he to become the chief of the boys; there was there another sense of dominating, of controlling others, in spite of his leadership qualities. And when it turned out that the boys (except the choir boys) elected Ralph to be Chief, the rage was germinating in him.

I admit it that if you scrap his wicked qualities, Jack was actually a better leader than Ralph. Unlike Ralph who often confused and could not focus his mind, Jack was self-possessed, always knew what to do, and could make a quick decision when needed. Unfortunately, the rage that began to germinate in him, soon transformed him into a devil. I think, it’s all began when he failed to be chief. He needed to prove others that he was more capable than Ralph. He boasted that he could hunt and killed pigs easily, but when they really met a pig, Jack could not kill it.

“You cut a pig’s throat to let the blood out, otherwise you can’t eat the meat.” [Jack]
“Why didn’t you—?” [Ralph I guess...]
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.
Next time there would be no mercy. He [Jack] looked around fiercely, daring them to contradict.

That scene reflected the point when ‘evil’ took over ‘kind’ in men’s soul. It was when Jack’s pride conquered him, that he dismissed his own conscience. Jack has surrendered to the evil’s hand… And after that Jack rapidly transformed into a barbarian. When you have let the evil overpower the kind in your soul, it is very difficult to have your conscience back. Things got worse because Jack had the leadership in him. Soon enough he gained other boys respect to join him by providing food and freedom, while Ralph kept prating about ‘keep the fire’ and ‘build a shelter’.

[After] Jack (right) - the head of a barbarian tribe
(left) is Ralph

In the end, it is not the skill of leadership that matters in a leader, but the conscience (and the persistency to keep it). Jack gained respect from others, obeyed by others, but to what point? He only led them to savagery. No, I would not proud of a chief like Jack.

That is my Character Thursday of this week, an analysis of book character of my choice, who is yours?... Just put your post URL in the linky below. Do you like to join us in discussing characters from books you read? See the details of Character Thursday first.


  1. Lord of the Flies is an amazing book, giving us an insight into the psychology of those boys who are stranded on an uninhabited island. I thought all the boys were deeply affected by it, but perhaps none more than Jack. Good choice for Character Thursday, Fanda!

    1. That's right, Jack is the most interesting character here, after I finished the book, I kept thinking about him, how he could easily changed? There must be a turning point for this extreme transformation, of course it would then combined with the circumstances on the island. But what was the point? It's interesting to study it, and that's what I love from Character Thursday! :)


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