Explain the symbolic characteristics of Ralph and Jack in Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

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Ralph is initially described as having "fair hair" and is referred to as the "fair boy" in the opening scene of the novel. He is also described as having a "golden body" and is associated with the conch. Golding's description of Ralph being a "fair boy" symbolically represents his just, upright personality. The color gold also symbolically represents Ralph's revered status among the group of boys, who eventually elect him chief.

Since the conch symbolically represents order, democracy, and civilization, Ralph is also associated with those values. Ralph also continually laments his long, tangled hair and constantly pushes it out of his face. The length of the boys's hair in the story is significant and is used as a gauge to reflect the boys's diminishing civility. Ralph is an archetype for civilization, structure, and democracy throughout the novel, and he attempts to establish a civil society in vain.

Jack is initially described as "something dark" as he walks towards the platform, where Ralph is blowing the conch. Jack is then described as having red hair and wearing a black cap. Golding also writes that Jack's light blue eyes turn angry when he is frustrated. The color red symbolically represents Jack's affinity for blood and emphasizes his passion for hunting. The black cap and dark imagery symbolically reflect Jack's wicked nature. As the story progresses, Jack removes his clothes, paints his face, and allows his hair to grow past his eyes. Jack's startling appearance symbolically represents his savage nature.

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Jack is described as "tall, thin, and bony; and his hair was red beneath the black cap" (page 20). Red hair is a symbol of his later quest for blood. He is also described as having blue eyes that are "ready to turn to anger" (page 20). He is angry and violent, and later, he constantly totes about a spear, which symbolizes his connection to a primitive form of violence. Jack also carries around a bloodied knife, and he smears the blood from his knife over his forehead, again symbolizing his connection to bloodthirstiness (page 71). He has forgotten about being rescued and has descended to using violence. For example, he snatches off Piggy's glasses (page 71). Jack is lawless and uses force to lead.

Ralph, on the other hand, is described as "fair," (page 8), or blond, symbolizing that he is a fair-minded and sweet golden boy. He is also described as having a "golden body" (page 11). He is associated with the conch, a shell he uses to call others to a meeting, symbolizing order and law. His values are in opposition to the chaotic lawlessness and bloodthirstiness that Jack symbolizes. 

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