Honors English 10*
6 November 2013
How Setting Effects Jack Merridew in Lord of the Flies You are a pre-teen boy riding on a plane, trying to escape the dangers of war. However, you end up stranded on a deserted island with twenty-five other boys. You believe that you have all the qualities needed to lead the boys until rescue can come, but are forced to be submissive to another. In the Lord of the Flies, William Golding uses the setting to illustrate the character and development of the main antagonist, Jack Merridew. The setting of this novel is an isolated and desolate island in the middle of the ocean. Surrounding the island is evil and desperation. The plane crash that lands the boys on the island creates “upheavals of fallen trees” and a “scar” left by the plane, which is simply a hole in the ground from the plane’s crash landing (Golding 9). The island, specifically the beach, forest, and castle rock, spark Jack’s thirst for power, and transform him into a cynical and manipulative leader.
Majority of the action in the first part of the book takes place on the beach. Initially, when the boys land on the island, they meet on the beach and have a vote for who should be chief, or the leader of the boys. Jack immediately feels that he should be chief, “I ought to be chief,… because I’m chapter chorister and head boy” (21). Jack believes that his position as head of his choir and being head boy should make the position of chief rightfully his. However, when they hold a vote, Ralph, the main protagonist, is elected. This leads Jack to greatly resent Ralph, even going as far as to ignore Ralph’s direct orders of keeping a fire going in favor of hunting, “There was a ship… You and your blood, Jack Merridew! You and your hunting! We might have gone home—” (64). From this, it is learned that Jack thinks very little of Ralph’s opinion to keep a fire going to get off the island, in preference of hunting in order to live longer on the island. This illustrates that the beach is a place where Jack is consistently undermined by Ralph, due to Jack’s lack of authority. On the island, there is a forest, which sparks Jack’s bloodlust and savagery. The scene that heavily portrays this is the pig hunt. “Jack found the [pig’s] throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands” (123). Jack mentioned multiple times throughout the book that the children on the island needed meat, and that it took priority over keeping the fire going. He finally succumbed to his need for meat by resorting to savage means for getting food. This then leads to the attack of Robert in a reenactment of the pig hunt, “All at once, Robert was screaming and struggling with the strength of the frenzy. Jack had him by the hair and was brandishing his knife” (104). With the trees and the darkness surrounding them, Jack and his choir boys have succumbed to savage ways, “They understood only too well the liberation into savagery the concealing paint provided” (157). This illustrates that while in the woods, any morsel of civilization they have left within them is lost, and savagery takes over. This is all caused by Jack. Ralph may be chief of the island as a whole, but when it comes to the forest, it is Jack’s domain. On the opposite end of the