Compare the appearance of the naval officer and Ralph in William Golding's Lord of the Flies.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is ironic that, in the final chapter of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, both Ralph and the naval officer are wearing uniforms. Though they have this one thing in common, these two characters are nothing alike.

The naval commander arrives, and he is wearing his dress uniform. Ralph looks up and sees "a white-topped cap, and above the green shade of the peak was a crown, an anchor, gold foliage. He saw white drill, epaulettes, a revolver, a row of gilt buttons down the front of a uniform." The officer stands tall and straight, and he is an impressive sight, even  for someone other than a group of filthy savages. 

Ralph, on the other hand, is a mess. His clothes are dirty and crusty from the salt, sand, and sun of the island. Though he is still wearing a uniform, it is probably not seen as one by the naval officer. He looks down at Ralph and sees a "little scarecrow in front of him. The kid needed a bath, a haircut, a nose-wipe and a good deal of ointment." Ralph is a broken boy about to burst into tears.

When we see the naval officer through Ralph's eyes, we see a man who is professional and in charge; when we see Ralph through the naval officer's eyes, we are reminded that Ralph (along with all the others) is just a boy who tried to be a leader and failed. 


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