Why Is Ralph Elected Chief

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Ralph is chosen as chief because he blew the conch that led them all together, and it imbued him with power in the other boys’ eyes.

When the boys decide they should have a chief, Jack is convinced it should be him.

“I ought to be chief,” said Jack with simple arrogance, “because I’m chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp.” (ch 1)

As the head of the choir, Jack is tyrannically used to being obeyed.  He assumes the rest of the boys will listen to him too.  Roger, who is normally quiet, suggests a vote and curtails Jack’ self-appointment.

None of the boys can think of a good reason for Ralph to be leader.  Jack seems the obvious choice, and Piggy is obviously the most intelligent.  But Ralph is attractive, has a stillness, and has the conch.

The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on his knees, was set apart. (ch 1)

So despite lack of qualifications, Ralph is elected leader of the boys.  He is the one that brought them together, and he has the conch.  Somehow the conch seems to give him special powers.

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In Chapter 1, Ralph and Piggy discover a conch shell in the lagoon. Piggy explains to Ralph that the shell is valuable and can be used to call the other boys. Ralph then blows the conch, and the other boys on the island begin to assemble. Ralph then lifts the conch and comments that they should have a chief. After Roger suggests that the boys vote on a chief, the general assembly elects Ralph. Despite the fact that Piggy is clearly intelligent enough to be chief, and Jack has a natural willingness to lead, Ralph is holding the conch. The beautiful conch appeals to the boys, and Ralph's calm demeanor while holding it suggests that he would be a leader with poise. Piggy is fat and ridiculed by the boys, which is why he is not elected, and Jack did not find or blow the conch. The conch symbolically possesses the power of civilization which initially appeals to the boys. Fortunately, Ralph happens to be holding the alluring conch while the boys are voting.

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