How is Ralph responsible for the island's decline in Lord of the Flies?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ralph’s poor leadership skills threaten the island’s stability.

Ralph is responsible for the island’s decline because his poor leadership skills result in nothing getting done and the island breaking into splinter groups.  From the beginning, Jack edges for power against Ralph.  Unlike Ralph, Jack has some leadership skills.  Ralph’s claim to leadership is his good looks and that he was the one who first blew the conch.  Yet Ralph is voted leader.

None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. (Ch. 1)

He gets nothing done.  The huts are half built.  The fire is half tended, and worse, Jack and his hunters are a constant threat to the group’s stability.  The presence of the choir already made the group fragmented, and Jack was their leader.  Making them hunters gives them a clear skill, which is actually useful, and makes them cool to boot.

When the hunters kill their pig and have their dance, the group is done for.  The fragmentation is complete.  Piggy comments to Ralph about the attraction of the “tribe.”

“That’s where they’ve gone. Jack’s party.”

“Let them go,” said Ralph, uneasily, “I don’t care.”

“Just for some meat—”

“And for hunting,” said Ralph, wisely, “and for pretending to be a tribe, and putting on war-paint.” (Ch. 9)

Ralph represents the boring aspects of society: order, responsibility, and chores.  Jack, on the other hand, represents the exciting aspects of the forbidden, savage society.  If they stay with Ralph they get to eat fruit, build huts, and be responsible.  If they go to Jack, they get to kill pigs, paint their faces, and sing “Kill the Pig!”  It does not take much to see what boys would choose.  Ralph is not able to keep the two sides together, and therefore the boys go to Jack. He is left with Piggy and Simon, the intelligent and thoughtful boys.  The other boys are left to get out of control.  They are left to their own destruction.

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Lord of the Flies

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