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See? See? That's what you'll get! I meant that!
~ Jack after Roger killed Piggy.

Jack Merridew is the main antagonist in William Golding's 1954 novel Lord of the Flies. He is the self-appointed leader of British boys stranded on an uninhabited island.

He was portrayed by Tom Chapin in the 1963 film adaptation, and by Chris Furrh in the 1990 remake.


Jack is the leader of the Choir boys. He is first introduced after hearing the harsh call of protagonist Ralph's newly found conch, a tropical marine mollusc with a robust spiral shell and a flared lip. He is described to be wearing shorts, a shirt and a black cap with a golden badge sewn onto it. The other boys badges are silver. He is also covered from throat to ankle in a black cloak with a hambone frill and a long silver cross on the left breast.


He orders the Choir to stop where they are when they reach where Ralph and Piggy are standing. Though the line of boys breaks up after the youngest, Simon faints from heat exhaustion.  Jack realises that there are no grown ups on the island with them and decides that he should be chief of the group after Ralph suggests somebody should lead. Though he is beaten to the role by Ralph after the majority vote for him.

Jack (right) and Ralph (left) facing off.

As the novel ventures on, although from the start it was clear that Jack was a person that knew his own mind - he steadily turns violent, aggressive and dangerous. He paints his face with mud and dirt and replaces his neat uniform for a leaf skirt. Jack constantly goes against Ralph's command and eventually creates a separate tribe with the help of his followers.


The situation degenerates into a war, culminating in Piggy and Simon's murders and the whole island being set alight in order to kill Ralph. Fortunately, the fire attracts the attention of a boat belonging to the NAVY, sparing Ralph from what could have been his death at Jack's hands.

Jack, along with the other boys bursts into tears at the sight of the NAVY officer and it is applied that they were all rescued and returned back to Britain. However, he and the rest of his gangs will be put into juvenile detention for what they had done.


In the novel, Jack is described as being ugly without silliness. He is tall, slim and bony with bright red hair and piercing blue eyes.

However, in both film adaptions, Jack is portrayed with having ash-blonde hair and large brown eyes.


Jack is shown at first to be very cocky, haughty, vituperative, and demanding. He displays an open hostility towards Ralph and contempt towards the other children.


Jack emits a vibe unlike any other character in the story. He shows signs of being dangerously bipolar, acting astute and honorable right after the crash, speaking properly with a tone of voice similar to that of an adult's, but it is through the downward spiral and the death of civilization on the island that Jack shows his other, and disturbingly more savage side. 


  • Jack's role in the novel is an allegory to human nature. Jack represents mankind's unbridled savagery, and the desire for power. Golding's allegory to the character (about human nature) was based on what he saw when he went to war.
    • However, his second-in-command Roger represents its worst aspects as he performs inhumane and perverted acts such as torture, animal cruelty and zoophilia, for his own cruel sense of humor which not even Jack matched. While Jack embodies lawful evil; tyranny and warmongering for an addiction towards power, Roger is the embodiment of chaotic evil; primal sadism and depravity only held back by society's values.
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