Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding
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In what ways does Golding present the theme of conflict through Ralph and Jack?

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Ralph and Jack's relationship on the island starts in a highly congenial fashion yet ends in a life and death struggle. For Jack's part his rapid descent into savagery is mostly a result of his obsession with hunting, but is also fuelled by his resentment for not having being elected leader on the island. For Ralph's part there is nothing but bewilderment regarding the escalation of the conflict between himself and Jack. He cannot understand why Jack doesn't see the signal fire as the number one priority on the island, and he laments Jack's increasing aggression towards him, "Ralph sighed, sensing the rising antagonism, understanding that this was how Jack felt as soon as he ceased to lead....he spoke despairingly...."Why do you hate me?" (p.146).

Golding clevery uses characterization to reveal the escalating conflict between the two boys. Ralph is shown as a brave and determined leader (for example, he leads in the search for the beast) but his failure in being able to lead allows Jack to gain the ascendency over the boys (for example, the breakdown in the night time meeting is largely a result of him giving confused and contradictory statements). In Jack we initially see and adventurous boy who graciously cedes the leadership to Ralph, but later we see a thirst for blood, violence and power as evidenced in the hunting 'song', his intimidation of Piggy and his taking hostage of Sam n'Eric.  

Third person omniscient is a highly effective narration technique used in the novel, as we are able to experience the conflict deepen through the actions speech and thoughts of the boys. Golding's narration assists in our understanding of this conflict, as evidenced in the first serious breakbown between Jack and Ralph when the fire was left unattended; "So Ralph asserted his chieftainship and could not have chosen a better way if he had thought for days. Against this weapon, so indefinable and so effective, Jack was powerless and raged without knowing why."      

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