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As the chief of the tribe of stranded boys, Ralph knows it is in his and the other boys' best interest to maintain some semblance of order while they are in the island. At the second tribal meeting, Ralph emphasizes the importance of maintaining decorum as he reminds the boys:
"There aren't any grownups. We shall have to look after ourselves" (33).
Immediately following this statement, Ralph institutes the power of the conch as a means of regulating tribe meetings and taking turns. Ralph feels his role as chief keenly, knowing that the boys will have to act responsibly to take care of one another. Later after the boys run off to make a signal fire in haphazard fashion, Ralph reminds the boys of the importance of keeping rules and order:
"Any day there may be a ship out there [...] and if we have a signal going they'll come and take us off. And another thing. We ought to have more rules. Where the conch is, that's a meeting. The same up here as down there" (42).
Ralph firmly believes that "the rules are the only thing we've got" (91). He connects keeping order with maintaining the signal fire, and the signal fire is their only chance of rescue. After the meeting in chapter six in which Jack mocks keeping the rules, Ralph voices his worries to Piggy: "We shan't keep the fire going. We'll be like animals. We'll never be rescued" (92). Ultimately, the rules are crucial to Ralph; they represent both his lifeline to civilization and any opportunity for rescue.
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