In “Lord of the Flies”, why does Jack paint his face?

Updated 21 March, 2023
In "Lord of the Flies," Jack paints his face as a way to disguise himself while hunting. By putting on the mask of war paint, he is able to temporarily forget his identity and the morals that would normally prevent him from killing. It also allows him to blend in with the natural surroundings, making him more effective at hunting. This act of painting his face is a symbol of the loss of civilization and the descent into savagery.
Detailed answer:

In "Lord of the Flies," Jack paints his face for a specific purpose. This is evident in the following quote: "He looked in astonishment, no longer at himself but at an awesome stranger. He spilt the water and leapt to his feet, laughing excitedly. Beside the pool his sinewy body held up a mask that drew their eyes and appalled them. He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling" (p. 64).

Jack's face painting is a manifestation of his descent into savagery and a symbol of his desire for power and control over the other boys. It allows him to blend into the natural environment and adopt a persona that is more animalistic and less human. This is evident when the narrator describes Jack as "dog-like" and "ape-like" after he has painted his face (p. 64).

Furthermore, the face paint is a representation of the violent and aggressive side of human nature, which is a central theme in the book. It marks a shift from the civilized behavior of the boys to the primal behavior that emerges as they are left to their own devices on the island. The face paint also serves to separate Jack and his followers from the other boys, as they adopt a new identity and engage in violent behavior that is not shared by the rest of the group.

Overall, Jack's decision to paint his face is a significant moment in the book, as it marks a turning point in the boys' behavior and their descent into savagery. The face paint serves as a powerful symbol of the primal and violent forces that exist within all human beings, and the dangers that can arise when these forces are allowed to run unchecked.

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