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.