How do Jack and Ralph compare and contrast?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Lord of the Flies, Golding describes Ralph and Jack as to continents--each in charge of his own world but never meeting.  Their relationship is strained from the beginning, when Ralph was voted leader and Jack was left only to lead the hunters.  In the end, of course, their roles are rather reversed, as Ralph eventually has no one to lead as Jack as created hunters of all the others.  They are both boarding school boys, but they are really not much alike.  Jack is consumed with the physicality and intensity of the hunt as well as his own selfish wants, while Ralph is concerned about the greater welfare of the tribe and strives to maintain order in a consistently disorderly world.  Symbolically, Ralph represents the physical part of man (which is why he finds his clothes and his unkempt hair quite irritating while Jack has simply dropped his clothing and hides behind his painted mask), while Jack represents the darker nature of man which is released when there are no rules of expectations to keep it in check.  Under different circumstances, these two boys might have been friends; as it is, they are enemies in nearly every way once the freedom of the island is felt.

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Lord of the Flies

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