I have to write a 2 1/2 page typed essay about comparing and contrasting two characters from Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm. My characters are Snowball and Ralph. First of all, I don't know if I should compare or contrast them. Second, what are some comparable and contrastable points between them that I could write about for my paper?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Perhaps another approach to Snowball and Ralph is that they are both allegorical characters since both Golding's and Orwell's works can be read as allegories. That is, the novels are stories with messages of abstraction; Animal Farm has a political message while Lord of the Flies presents a moral message.

Both Snowball and Ralph are the idealists in these allegories, or extended metaphors. Snowball/Trotsky is a skilled tactician and a believer in "permanent revolution" in which the socialism is spread. But, Napoleon only wants his own dictatorial power in Animal Farm and does Jack in Lord of the Flies.

With Snowball and Ralph as representative of idealists who have noble ideas, who cannot maintain the power to effect them against the brutality of self-serving opponents, there are a number of comparisons that can be made. Here are a few:

  • Both believe in organization and order. For instance, Snowball orgainizes the other animals into animal Committees and Ralph has the boys building shelters, or tending the rescue fire.
  • Both believe in working toward goals. Both characters address goals constantly. 
  • Both believe in following treating everyone fairly Snowball, for example, decides that the Seven Commandments could be reduced to a single maxim,
"Four legs good, two legs bad."....Whoever had thoroughly grasped it would be safe from human influences.
  • Both believe in working in co-operation with others. Ralph always works with Simon and others who help. Snowball works with the others on the windmill.

[Hint:  Read about Trotsky and his ideas before tackling this assignment. There is one link below.]

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It would seem to me that the assignment is for two and a half pages because you are expected to devote a half-page to explaining briefly who these two characters are and what they do in the respective works. Don't take it for granted that the reader already knows who they are and what happens to them. The paper should be written as if addressed to the general reader and not to the teacher. Then you are probably expected to devote one page to comparing them and one page to contrasting them. I believe you should do both.

Snowball and Ralph are both leaders. They are both well-meaning types, thinking of the general welfare. Both are overthrown by individuals who are inferior to them and selfishly motivated. Both are in danger of losing their lives. Each has one deadly enemy.

They are different in one obvious way. Snowball is a pig and Ralph is a human being. Thus it would seem that Ralph must be much more intelligent than Snowball. Snowball is Utopian. Ralph is just trying to keep everybody alive and civilized. Snowball is an ideologist. Ralph is a realist. Snowball represents a real-life person, Trotsky. Ralph is not a character in a fable, but in a realistic sci-fi novel. You can appreciate Lord of the Flies without referring to anything else,whereas you need to know something about the Russian Revolution and the subsequent history of the Soviet Union in order to appreciate Animal Farm. I think Animal Farm might be called a roman a clef as well as a fable, an allegory, and a dystopian novel. Lord of the Flies is a sci-fi novel with a message.

You could make some brief generalizations about the two works in your conclusion.

These are just rough ideas off the top of my head. If you refer to the copious information available on both these works in eNotes Study Guides, I'm sure you will get more ideas about how these two characters are alike and different.

When you're comparing, just compare. When you're contrasting, just contrast. Don't get involved in doing both at once. It's too confusing.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial