Lord of the Flies | Study Guide

William Golding

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Lord of the Flies | Discussion Questions 11 - 20


In Chapter 3 of Lord of the Flies, why is Jack hunting, and is Ralph's reproach justified?

Jack wants to hunt because the boys are all hungry as the fruit does not fully satisfy them. However, Jack becomes obsessed with hunting and spends all of his time in pursuit of the pigs. The hunt becomes less about getting meat for the boys and more about satisfying his need to prove himself as the masterful provider. Over the course of the book, as Jack continues to hunt and finds some success, his desire to prove his leadership turns into bloodlust and a yearning for power. Ralph is right that Jack's overemphasis on hunting has hurt their chances of rescue. Even if Jack had wanted to hunt, he could have left one or two of his hunters at the fire to make sure it would not go out. After all, he had promised that his group would maintain the fire. However, Ralph's inability to recognize the boys' desire for meat is part of the downfall of his desired order. Perhaps if Ralph had found a way to balance Jack's need to hunt, the boys' desire for meat, and the other needs of the group, that order could have been preserved. But the overall thrust of Lord of the Flies suggests that irrational desires will always prevail over rational governance.

In Chapter 3 of Lord of the Flies, what are Jack's feelings and thoughts, and why is he unable to clearly articulate them?

Jack spends hours on his own in the forest in pursuit of a pig. He recognizes that he is becoming obsessed with hunting but cannot stop himself. When Ralph mentions being rescued, Jack takes a moment to remember what rescue was. His goal becomes to catch a pig first and then worry about rescue. Jack's talk of "being hunted, as if something's behind you all the time in the jungle," relates to the beast within. Jack is unable to name the savage within because he does not recognize that what he hears and feels is the violence within his own nature. Instead, he sees it as something in the forest because he is not ready to acknowledge the beast within. Perhaps Jack cannot articulate the appeal of the force he feels because he is still a child; perhaps that evil nature is something no human could articulate.

How and why does Ralph and Jack's relationship change in Lord of the Flies?

Ralph and Jack enjoy each other's company while exploring the island in Chapter 1. They are both happy to be free of adults and feel confident that they can get by on the island and have fun. As time passes, Ralph's desire to leave the island intensifies. Every action he takes—such as insisting the signal fire is maintained, suggesting that only the person using the conch can speak, and building the huts—is aimed at establishing order and structure and increasing their chances of getting rescued. Jack goes in the opposite direction. His tendency to violence as a way of proving his dominance of the situation slowly comes to possess him. His only interests are hunting, satisfying what becomes his bloodlust, and gaining and wielding power. In Chapter 3, Ralph insists that Jack should help build the huts. Jack insists he should continue hunting, as the boys want meat. This inability to recognize and appreciate the priorities of the other is the beginning of the end of any friendship they might have had. The mutual antagonism grows deeper throughout the book, advancing in Chapter 4 when Jack's first successful hunt results from his abandonment of the signal fire at the time the ship appeared; and their antagonism explodes in Chapter 8, with Jack's challenge to Ralph's authority. That conflict culminates in Jack's usurpation of power and determination to kill Ralph in the final chapter.

In Lord of the Flies, what does the fact that Simon enjoys wandering in the forest say about his character?

Simon is sociable but has a strong tendency to solitude; he is content being alone. Simon is the kindest of all the boys on the island. He is the only one who continues to help Ralph build the huts. The littluns come to Simon, and he picks fruit for them that is out of their reach. Despite his kindness, Simon does not fit in with any group. Simon arrives on the island as one of Jack's choir, but his fainting shows he does not belong to the group. Not surprisingly, he sides more with Ralph. Yet he is not entirely at home with his group, either. At points throughout the story, Ralph and Piggy describe him as odd or "batty," and his imagined conversation with the pig's head suggests that he is strange, or at least perceives reality differently than the other boys. Simon is an independent thinker and more spiritual and inwardly focused than the other boys. He goes into the forest to be alone with his thoughts and is capable of deeper and more imaginative thinking than the other boys. Both his isolation and his more probing thinking contribute to the sense that he is odd or different than the others. While alone he comes to various understandings, perceiving that the island is beautiful, that people have evil within them, and that the beast as the boys described him cannot exist.

What do Roger's changing actions between Chapters 1 and 4 of the Lord of the Flies reveal about his character?

In Chapter 1, Roger suggests that they have a vote to see who should be chief. At this point, then, he is willing to accept social order. By the end of Chapter 2, Roger supposes that they may never be rescued. With this supposition his behavior changes. In Chapter 4, Roger deliberately walks through and destroys sand castles that the littluns built. He could have easily avoided the sand castles, but he doesn't care who or what he destroys. One can easily imagine that he was a bully in his former life. He is not yet willing to descend to his lowest nature. This is indicated when he throws stones at Henry but deliberately misses him. Left on the island, it is only a question of when Roger will intentionally hurt someone, however.

What impact does the face paint have on Jack in Lord of the Flies?

In Chapter 4, Jack begins camouflaging his face when he hunts. He notes that he is merely copying what he sees in the war going on in the adult world. Putting on the face paint is another step for Jack away from his civilized self and toward his savage nature. First he shed his clothes; now he is shedding his former appearance. With his old self gone, he is free to act as he pleases. On the island, he is taking on a different persona: that of a hunter who is hungry for meat and bloodthirsty. It's no coincidence that Jack kills a pig for the first time after he put on the face paint. The old Jack hesitated to kill a pig. The new Jack is ready, willing, and able to kill.

In Chapter 4 of Lord of the Flies, why does Jack give meat to everybody except Piggy?

Jack does not give Piggy meat for a number of reasons. First, it is a demonstration of his position of power—he determines who can be a fortunate recipient of his favor. He is exercising a royal prerogative here. Second, he resents the relationship that Piggy is forming with Ralph. Ralph and Jack got along well when exploring the island. Since that time, the two have drifted apart due to their different views on what is important. However, Jack blames Piggy for the deteriorating relationship between himself and Ralph. Third, Jack has always seen Piggy as an outsider whose needs are unimportant. He has no need or respect for what Piggy has to offer the group. This is also why he slaps Piggy when he is rebuked by him about letting the fire go out. To have the outsider whom he looks down upon speak to him rudely in front of the others is unacceptable.

In Chapter 4 of Lord of the Flies, what is the significance of Jack punching Piggy and breaking his glasses?

Jack and Piggy are complete opposites. Piggy represents rationality and discussion. His unfit body and asthma prevent him from taking action. Jack represents action and authoritarian decision making. As the novel progresses, he focuses more intently on hunting, meat, and power. He is all about action. Piggy's glasses symbolize reason and intelligence. By punching Piggy and breaking one of his lenses, Jack signals that these traits are losing their value on the island. Significantly, only one of Piggy's lenses breaks. This symbolizes that the descent into savagery has begun but is not complete. There is still some appreciation for the traits that Piggy and his glasses represent.

Why does Jack insist that Simon eat meat in Chapter 4 of Lord of the Flies?

With the first pig that is killed, Jack feels great pride in his accomplishment. Jack has been claiming that he needs to hunt because they all wanted meat. As Ralph perceives, however, hunting is something Jack enjoys and is a way to avoid doing other work (such as building huts). With the pig killed, Jack can claim that he has done what he said he would do and provided meat for everyone. So by feeding all the boys, including Simon, Jack is exerting power over them. This is in contrast to Ralph, who makes rules and insists on certain tasks being completed. However, the completed tasks lead to nothing tangible; the boys are not rescued. The greater efficacy that the boys perceive in Jack's actions compared to Ralph's ultimately cause the former to gain power and the latter to lose it.

Why does Ralph insist on calling an assembly while the boys are eating the pig that Jack and the hunters killed in Chapter 4 of Lord of the Flies?

Jack and his hunters are caught up in hunting and the excitement that the kill brought up. When the hunters do their dance and chant, all the boys seems to find it entertaining. Ralph, feeling "envious and resentful," does not like what he is feeling and believes the boys need to talk. He is very frustrated and believes that the boys are forgetting the bigger goal of getting rescued. In addition, Ralph feels the need to reassert his authority as chief. He wants them to remember that he is chief and what he says goes, even though Jack and his hunters have provided them with meat.

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