Analyzing Ralph in "Lord of the Flies"How would one defend and/or criticize Ralph’s actions as leader?What were Ralph's motivations? Did he contribute to the tragedy in any way? Could he have...

Analyzing Ralph in "Lord of the Flies"

How would one defend and/or criticize Ralph’s actions as leader?

What were Ralph's motivations? Did he contribute to the tragedy in any way? Could he have acted to prevent any of the deaths?

Expert Answers
pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ralph's character represents civilization, order and the hope of being rescued.  He tries to initiate routines, first with the conch, which governs the meetings, building the shelters, and the fire.  But he is opposed by a strong force, Jack, who represents the primordial savagery of man.  Against such a barbarous band of hunters, Ralph is powerless to prevent the murders.

"The conch is abandoned by Jack for good. He has completely broken from its power and has installed himself as absolute leader, replacing the democratic process with his authoritarian absolute rule."

Simon's murder is part of the bloodlust that develops with the hunters.  At first for survival, for the meat, then for the pleasure of seeing the pigs writhe with pain and agony as they die. 

"The stealing of Piggy’s glasses represents not only the triumph of violence and chaos, but the destruction of civilization and vision. Piggy, the one true believer in the sanctity of the conch and order, is now blind and helpless."

Even after Simon is killed, Ralph still cannot manage the level of savagery of Jack.   

"Piggy insists that Ralph do something. Ralph considers washing and brushing their hair and going civilly, to prove they aren’t savages." 

As Piggy is attacked, Ralph tries to reason with Jack, but it is useless.

"Jack screams that that’s what Ralph will get. The conch is gone. He is chief now. He hurls his spear at Ralph, grazing his side."

reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No matter what Ralph symbolizes, you cannot forget that as a leader, he is a young boy, twelve years old, beset by a complex role he knows nothing about. At first, Ralph is naive as to the gravity of the situation: In Chap. One, he "lugged off his shirt and pants, and stood there naked." He revels in his freedom. Without much thinking, Ralph accepts the role of the leader, glad to be voted as such, as the popular boy the rest have faith in. So far, a typical twelve year old reaction.

However, as the novel progresses, Ralph faces adult leader situations such as division of labor, creating shelter, keeping the fire going, and more importantly, keeping his role as a just leader who the boys listen to. As we know, this all breaks down as the boys succumb to the savagery within them. For you to answer this question, you must consider whether or not Ralph lost his integrity as a leader. Was Ralph's role in Simon's death excusable or not? What could Ralph have done differently, if anything, to stop the boys' decline into evil?

Your call! Good luck!

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ralph is the best leader on the island.  He is elected by his peers to do this duty since he is trusted to get them through until the rescue.  He is level-headed, confident, and work-oriented.  Perhaps this is where his fault lies?  Had he allowed some time for play and downtime, perhaps Jack and the others wouldn't have rebelled.  Jack is all about play, and as he rules by fear, the others defect and follow him. 

naomiparker93 | Student
Did Ralph contribute to the tragedy in anyway?
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Lord of the Flies

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