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Defend and/or criticize Ralph’s actions as leader. What were...

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rivkah | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 9, 2010 at 1:04 AM via web

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Defend and/or criticize Ralph’s actions as leader.

What were his motivations? Did he contribute to the tragedy in any way? Could he have acted to prevent any of the deaths? What would you have done differently in his situation?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 9, 2010 at 1:21 AM (Answer #1)

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Although Ralph may not have been a born leader, he does seem to be the best qualified of the stranded boys in Lord of the Flies. Ralph is apparently one of the oldest (if not the oldest) of the boys, and his connection with the conch helps him to be elected chief of the group. His primary motivation is a wise one: He wants to be rescued, and he believes by keeping a signal fire going at all times, the boys increase their chances of being found. Ralph's often unfriendly actions toward his biggest ally, Piggy, is one of his most unwise decisions. Unfortunately, Jack's brutal and threatening actions divide the boys, and the weaker and younger kids eventually bow to his threats. This leaves Ralph with little support, especially after Piggy's death. Ralph's desire to survive helps to keep him alive after he is stalked by Jack's hunters, so this aspect of his personality ends up serving him well.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted April 9, 2010 at 2:03 AM (Answer #2)

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In the book The Lord of the Flies Ralph has the qualities of a good leader.  However, he is out of his element.  As a good leader he tries to maintain order and look after the children.  However, he falls short when he does not recognize that the first need before shelter and rescue is food. 

Ralph's inability to provide food diminishes his role as a leader.  Without food, based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, the boys can not really think about anything else.  The second issue is that Ralph is not innately savage.  He is a generally good person.  He underestimates Jack's level of savage behaviors until it is almost too late for him.

I do not think that Ralph could have changed the outcome.  Jack was the more dominant of the two and he also had Roger alongside him.  The two boys were able to create a power that Ralph and Piggy could not stand up against. 

Since they are on an island with no adult supervision and evidence of civilization, the children became animal like.  In the world of animals, only the strongest survive.

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted April 9, 2010 at 3:24 AM (Answer #3)

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In the novel "Lord Of The Flies" by William Golding, the author shows Ralph as a boy who is capable of leadership. In the right facilitating environment, these qualities could have been nurtured and fanned into the flames of true leadership. However, on an island with no adults, Ralph is a fish out of water. In normal circumstances, the younger boys would have listened to him, but here in this wild place with no adult backup, he has no support. The younger boys go for the 'leader' who provides what they want - decisiveness, excitement and fun. They go with the one who shouts the loudest. They don't need meat, they have fish, fruit and fresh water - yet they go along with an imagined need for a kill. Ralph's qualities of responsibility, providing for others and debate go unappreciated.

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