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The similarity between a beast and a human being is striking. Despite centuries of progress and the ability to think abstractly, there is still a remnant of the beast within every single person. The essence of being human is, therefore, not to get rid of it entirely, but to be able to control it even in the circumstances that encourage the most violent and outrageous behavior.
Although Jack Merridew, one of the lead characters of William Golding’s shockingly unforgettable Lord of the Flies novel, is a child and still has a lot to learn in terms of how society works, the fact that he let his craving for power coordinate his actions and even lead him to commit a murder makes it obvious that he is to blame for the desperate state that the residents of the island finally happened to be in.
Re-Establishing The Theory Of Crime
The case is relatively simple. Although Jack did not kill Piggy on his own and did not succeed at murdering Ralph, his opponent, he still had a huge influence on his tribe and, therefore, must be held responsible for the effects that his influence had on the members of the tribe.
Such responsibility is predetermined by the self-control theory of crime (Goode 3), which presupposes that criminal behavior is a result of poor self-control, the latter triggered by the lack – or, to be more accurate, absence – of deterrents.
Reviewing Evidence: Clear As Day
Technically, Jack did not murder Piggy with his own hands; nor did he manage to kill Ralph, his arch nemesis. However, the numerous attempts that he undertook to murder Ralph, as well as the fact that he fooled his “tribe” into thinking that Piggy deserves death, is equally as big a crime as the actual murder.
To start with, Jack mentions on several occasions that Ralph must be exterminated so that Jack and his tribe could live peacefully on the island. At this point, it becomes clear that Jack is becoming obsessed with power and that the desire to be the leader takes hold of him, ousting his common sense and the need for returning to the civilization: “I’m chief then” (Golding 29).
It should also be mentioned that Jack never actually considers the members of his tribe as an individual; instead, he envisions them merely as valuable – or invaluable, as the case of Piggy’s murder will show – resources. Instead of using his power to help the children survive and attract the attention of the ships passing by, he abuses his power to create his cult: “He began to dance, and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling” (Golding 89).
While the facts above may be considered irrelevant to the case, they show the transformation that Jack undergoes. He turns into a vengeful monster from a sensible and self-assured leader very soon: “Jack clamored among them, the conch forgotten. ‘Come on! Follow me!’” (Golding, 52).
As a result, in several days, he craves for nothing but killing Ralph, his opponent: “Viciously, with full intention, he hurled his spear at Ralph” (Golding 201). He commits attempted to murder several times, though, fortunately, with no success: “The pint tore the skin and flesh over Ralph’s ribs, then sheared off and fell in the water” (Golding 201).
Though the case of Piggy’s murder is not that simple, it is still obvious that the tribe started ostracizing Piggy under Jack’s influence: “We don’t want you,” said Jack, flatly. “Three’s enough” (Golding, 31). As a result, Jack has to share the responsibility for the murder; more to the point, he is to be held the organizer of the murder, seeing how the tribe was obeying his orders.
Arguing Against The Opposition’s Case
A single look at the opponent’s case will show that the evidence in favor of Jack does not hold any water. One of the most common arguments is that Jack is still a child and, therefore, cannot yet comprehend the wrongfulness of his actions. However, one must mention that the narrator never actually states the characters’ age, which means that they might as well be in their early teenage years.
Also, the fact that the characters manage to form a kind of society shows that they have an understanding of how society works. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that they are capable of differentiating between the moral and the immoral as well.
Conclusion: The Duty Of Being Humane
Even as far as Jack’s youth and lack of experience go, he was still capable of having influence over the rest of the tribe and control others, which is why he is to blame for the effects that his influence has had on the other children. It is the duty of any person to stay humane in any circumstances, which Jack has failed at, succumbing to hatred instead of contributing to the mini-society and striving for their salvation.
Therefore, Jack must answer for a range of attempted murders, as well as for solicitation of murder, the latter resulting in Piggy’s tragic death: “Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of a true, wise friend called Piggy” (Golding 291).
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Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. 1954. Global Village Contemporary Classics. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.
Goode, Erich. Out of Control: Assessing the General Theory of Crime. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008. Print.