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How does Ralph symbolize democracy?In Golding's 'Lord of the Flies.'

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lorran | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 13, 2009 at 8:15 PM via web

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How does Ralph symbolize democracy?

In Golding's 'Lord of the Flies.'

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parkerlee | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted September 13, 2009 at 10:30 PM (Answer #1)

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For one thing, Ralph wants to play fair and to have it put to a vote before he or anyone else becomes the leader. In the beginning he wields a natural authority over the boys which he loses little by little to Jack, the more audacious and outspoken of the two. It is his idea too that the holder of the conch is the person who can "be heard out," much after the model of a public forum (or a Congress filibuster, if you like!). Ralph functions by structure and order, and he tries to impose these norms of society for the well-being of all the survivors.

Ralph, in the true democratic spirit, also protects the interests of the more vulnerable, particularly "the littl'uns." He encourages the older boys to protect (instead of bullying) them and to be aware that their needs are not the same as those of the older ones. He is aware, for example, that the  younger ones are susceptible to nightmares and also that their health is more fragile.

Ralph is also democratic in that he doesn't try to do the job alone but seeks the help of Piggy and Simon.  These two characters have their respective weak points (Piggy is nearsighted and Simon suffers from epileptic spells), but Ralph knows he can count on them just the same.

In all these respects, Ralph symbolizes democracy.

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