Lord of the Flies

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How does Jack maintain his hold over the boys?

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Simple. He punishes them for disobedience. When he and two other boys steal fire from Ralph, he says, "Go on--now!" and the boys hesitate, then say together, "The chief has spoken." Later, he tells boys to grab Samneric, and they do, and he tells Ralph, "See? The do what I want."

Jack even punishes boys for no reason. Robert tells Roger that Jack is going to beat Wilfred. No one knows why; they just giggle about it.

This is the great contrast between Ralph and Jack. Ralph makes sensible rules but expects the boys to obey just because it's the right thing to do. This does not work. Jack's boys obey, even when the rules aren't sensible, because he gives them a more basic reason: he'll beat them if they disobey. Ralph is the better man, but Jack is the more effective leader. Sad, but true--in modern life as well as on the island. Without consequences, people will not follow rules.

Jack = power. He is bigger and stronger. So, he can control them. George Orwell says power is the ability to make others suffer. Jack has that. And he makes sure they know it--he beats them. Life in our world is all about power. Jack has it, so he is in control.

Of course, Roger senses that power, and he develops some too. Were the boys not rescued at the end, there would be a civil war on the island with Roger and Jack as the generals. You see, power doesn't like company...