Jack Jackson is a major character featured in The Pillars of the Earth and a POV. He is the son of Ellen and Jacques Cherbourg (Jack Shareburg), and gains prominence as the novel progresses. He is a very skilled stonemason and talented sculptor, trained by his stepfather Tom Builder. He loves Aliena and his struggles form another of the central plots. Eventually, with the death of his stepbrother Alfred he is able to marry her and they have two children together. He travels to France and Spain, returning with the skills to build the first Gothic Cathedral in England. Jack also has a knack for storytelling, a skill inherited from his father, a man he has great interest in, despite never having known him. Waleran eventually provides him with the answers.
After his Father was killed in a long running conspiracy, Jack was brought up among outlaws and outcasts in the forest by his Mother, Ellen. She raised Jack as best she could under the trying circumstances. She encouraged his learning and interest in the environment, but he lacked human contact, something that she recognised and one of the principle reasons she joined Tom's family.
The Pillars of the EarthEdit
Jack Jackson first appears in The Pillars of the Earth when he meets Tom Builder and his family on the road after Marth is attacked by an outlaw. He is regarded as an oddity due to his incredible intelligence, but seriosuly undeveloped social skills. Tom describes him as having the look of the 'village idiot.' This appearance is fairly brief, and he is later seen when he finds the baby Jonathan abandoned in the forest, where he runs to get his Mother, Ellen, only to find the baby gone with Philip's brother Francis.
They find Tom, and he stays with Alfred and Martha while they go to find the baby. After that, he joins Tom's family as they travel the road looking for work. Although he is beaten by Alfred on a regular basis, Jack finds the new experience immensely interesting and he learns from it. As a result his social interaction skills progress rapidly to that of a person raised in an average community, eg. a regular person. He also finds what Tom says about building interesting and begins to learn a lot from him, taking it all in and starting to apply it to the world around him. Jack also develops a close relationship with Martha, Tom's daughter.
When they arrive at Earlscastle, Jack is amazed, as he has never seen anything like this before. He is astonished and intrigued about the stonework as they enter the keep. They sit down to dinner with the other castle workers and Aliena first appears in person. Jack is instantly smitten but when he talks to her the next day he says he doesn't have a father, as Ellen never told him about Jack Shareburg, which leads to him being mocked and running off. Strangely, its something both Aliena and Jack remember for some time.
Jack is found by Ellen, and he gets angry with her for not making him aware that he had a father. They talk about Jack's father, briefly and their new life before they spot horseman riding for the castle, after which they rush to tell the Earl. Once the battle starts, Jack is taken with Alfred and Martha, with Ellen to the keep. Once there, Jack admires Aliena's calm and authority in such a crisis. In the end, they are sent on the road again.After some days of travelling, the family encounter William Hamleigh. It is there, that, despite his many flaws, Jack grows to respect Tom for standing up to William and Walter.
The family eventually ends up in Kingsbridge where Tom unsuccessfully tries to get work. Jack, scared that this may finally be the death of them sneaks into the cathedral and sets fire to it, burning the entire thing. He struggles to get out, but eventually escapes and heads back to the guest house, where they were staying the night. Jack runs into Martha, but she agrees to keep his secret.
Tom manages to get a job, rebuilding the cathedral. Jack is delighted, though he resents the time his mother spends around Tom. He starts doing jobs for the monks, with Martha. He is completing a job for the kitchener, Bernard, and recieves fresh bread in return. He and Martha decide to bring it back to his mother, but Alfred intercepts them. He and Jack have quickly already begin a fierce rivalry, but in this case, Jack being considerable smaller, he is easily beaten. When he returns to Ellen, she becomes angry and after an arguement with Tom, who has already been told that he must leave her as they are living together out of wedlock, they leave for the forest again. Jack is happy in many ways, but also somewhat sad at the loss of all his new experiences.
Jack returns with Ellen a year later, after she grows to miss Tom. He is initially reluctant and resentful of having to return and share his mother, but then he spots Aliena, who has taken up residence in Kingsbridge after being disinherited. He reflects that life might not be so bad, as he'll be able to see her everyday. Jack realises that he has fallen well and truly in love.
Jack is next seen as Tom's apprentice. He has matured in this gap of a few months, and it is from here that he begins to gain real prominance as, debatably, the main protagonist. Jack is carving a sculpture when Tom approaches him and tells him that its time for a break. Jack leaves the building site, only to reflect on his recent relationships with the women of Kingsbridge, and his infatuation with Aliena.
Jack makes his way into the forest near Kingsbridge, and eventually finds Aliena, reading a book. He watches her, scared of what will happen if he announces his presence. Nonetheless, Jack does and after a denial of surprise on Aliena's part, they begin talking where Jack reveals he can recite stories and poems. Aliena asks him to recite one, and he does, much to her delight. This proves to be the beginning of their friendship, and love story.
Appearance and PersonalityEditJack has fiery red hair, blue eyes and pale skin. As a boy he is regarded as odd looking, but as he grows up his features resolve into 'more attractive proportions'. He is described as handsome man many times by Aliena, somewhat a biased source, though others agree, and has a tall, slender body.
Jack's personality is fairly mild, but he can become very angry and is quick to defend what he believes in. He is quite headstrong, but not arrogant, and very intelligent. He can easily adapt to a situation as he does when 'seducing' Aliena as a friend, and not a suitor.
Jack does not comply as other people do to a set of man-made rules. He picked this up from his mother and he is very rebellious. In addition, while he has no hatred for religion, he is a non-beleiver, somewhat unusual in that time. Jack himself admits that leadership is not a skill of his, as he can be tactless when presenting bad news.
Aliena of Shiring: Aliena is Jack's true love. From the first moment he saw her he fell in love, though was disheartened when he mocked him about his father. That said, he continued to pursue her and saw his coming to Kingsbridge to live with Tom permenantly as a stroke of luck once he realised that Aliena was living there too. Jack watched her from a distance for some years, but their relationship really began when he found her reading a book. From there he began to tell her stories, occasionally with hidden implications for a relationship between himself and Aliena, though whether she picked up on this is unknown.
- Strangely, Jack is not persecuted for his red hair, as he might have been in real 12th century England. He might have been shunned as 'devil-spawn.'
- Jack's role increases significantly as he progresses from the book, from a minor side character to (possibly) the main protagonist.