How does Ralph's waning confidence in himself show in his words or actions?William Golding's Lord of the Flies

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter Seven of Lord of the Flies, Ralph begins to have misgivings about his ability to lead the boys on the island.  As the boys continue their pursuit of the beast, and they stop to eat, Ralph becomes aware of his dirtiness and long hair--symbolic of their degeneration:

He discovered with a little fall of the heart that these were the conditions he took as normal now....faced by the brute obtuseness of the ocean...one was clamped down, one was helpless, one was condemned, one was--

Realizing that Jack is in charge of the hunt gives Ralph further cause for reflection.  He recalls events and circumstances of his life before the plane crash, and how "Everything was all right; everything was good-humored and friendly," not hostile as he and Jack have sometimes been.  Then, as Ralph ponders his existing state, a pig runs by and he coolly throws his spear at it.  Caught in the excitement of this primal activity, Ralph vies for attention against Jack by declaring that he has struck the pig; "[H]e sunned himself in their new respect and felt that hunting was good after all." Nevertheless, Jack quickly diverts everyone attention with the ritual hunt with Robert as the pig.

As the day wans, Ralph suggests that they relight the fire while Jack wants to continue.  Ralph asks to be allowed to think. 

...Ralph had no self-consciousness in public thinking, but...he would never be a very good chess player.  he thought of the littluns and Piggy.

Sensing the growing antagonism of Jack, he asks him, "Why do you hate me?"  And, the sinister figure of Roger emerges, posing another threat to Ralph.  So, as the boys continue up the mountain, "Ralph's eyes were blinded with tears" as the "impervious" force of Roger sits on the log beside him, banging his wooden stick threateningly.  His inner voice tells him Not to be a fool," but he feels "green lights of nausea" as later Roger lies behind him, guarding him.

While Ralph's intentions are good--he wants to relight the fire and return to the others who wait nervously for them, but his plans are foiled by Jack's ridiculing and Roger's sinister presence.  Even when Ralph commits a good deed, his actions go unnoticed, causing him to believe that he is losing his hold as a leader.

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