Compare and contrast Ralph and Jack's different leadership styles up to chp5 and how it leads to conflict in Lord of the Flies.

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the first five chapters of Lord of the Flies, Ralph and Jack demonstrate their drastically different leadership styles. Ralph is more democratic, organized, and sympathetic to the boys' needs. Ralph understands the importance of creating rules, maintaining the signal fire, and building shelters. Ralph also takes into consideration the well-being of the littluns. Ralph realizes that they are afraid and attempts to remedy the situation. Despite Ralph's structured, empathetic approach, he is not as charismatic, forceful, or appealing as Jack. Ralph fails to gain the boys' respect and gradually allows Jack to undermine his authority. Ralph also does not understand the significance of positive reinforcement, and his followers begin to lose interest in his vision.

Unlike Ralph, Jack is a selfish, entitled individual who wishes to be in control. Even though Jack initially expresses an interest in following the rules, he gradually begins to undermine Ralph's authority. Jack fiercely criticizes Piggy and the littluns when they speak during the assemblies, disregards rules concerning the conch, and disagrees with Ralph's emphasis on maintaining a signal fire. Instead, Jack uses his prowess as a hunter to bolster his support among the group and plays towards their affinity for hunting and relaxation. Despite Jack's questionable agenda, he has better leadership skills than Ralph. Jack understands the importance of creating enthusiasm for his cause and takes advantage of every opportunity to undermine Ralph's authority. Eventually, Jack usurps power and attempts to kill Ralph. 

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ralph's style of leadership is much more democratic than Jack's. Early on, Ralph uses the conch to bring order to their assembly, and to give everyone a fair chance to talk.  He also shows consideration to all of the boys, bigguns and littluns alike.  He shows genuine concern over the littlun's well being, worrying about their lack of sleep and general problem with nightmares.  As a leader, Ralph actively follows his own rules and expectations; he expects huts to be built, so he works on the huts. 

Jack, on the other hand, uses his superiority as a hunter to assert himself as a leader.  Although Jack is keen to have rules at the beginning of the novel, he does not follow through or keep them.  He uses his position as hunter to exclude himself from some of the more menial tasks like keeping watch over the fire or building shelters.  In tribal meetings, he frequently downplayed or discounted the ideas of other boys, especially the littluns, viewing them as little more than babies.  He favors the hunt over all things, which ultimately leads to conflict between Jack and Ralph when the signal fire goes out. 

The main difference between Jack and Ralph's leadership stems from the boys' motivation.  Ralph wants to be a true leader and execute the job to his best ability, doing what is best for all the boys.  Jack is merely power hungry, and seeks to be chief merely to gain adulation.  Jack's attitude toward the rules reveals him to be self-centered, concerned with his own desires.


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Lord of the Flies

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