In Lord of the Flies, if Ralph is a tragic hero what is his flaw?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One could argue that Ralph's uncertainty and pessimism are his tragic flaws. Despite being elected chief by the group of boys, Ralph struggles with his self-confidence and continually second-guesses his own decisions. Unlike Jack, Ralph is not a natural leader and has a difficult time solving problems. His self-doubt and uncertainty contribute to the break up of the group and encourage the majority of the boys to side with Jack. There are several occasions throughout the novel where Ralph contemplates giving up his authority and quitting simply because things are not going his way. Initially, Ralph naively believes in civility, but he is quickly proven wrong as Jack challenges each of his decisions. Ralph's inability to confidently make intelligent decisions contributes to his loss of authority. Ralph does not believe that he is capable of making the correct choices for the group and begins to lose track of his goals. As the novel progresses, Ralph needs to be reminded that the signal fire is essential for rescue. His lack of self-confidence, uncertainty, and pessimism lead to the break up of the group and could be considered his tragic flaws. 

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would go out on a limb and say that Ralph's confidence in humanity's decision to do the right thing is his tragic flaw.  Ralph is a good leader, and he is selected by his peers to be the leader over Jack.  Ralph is more fair and noble than Jack, but he does expect people to pull their own share of the weight as far as work goes.  He expects that the signal fire will be kept going.  He expects that fresh water will be collected.  He expects that food will be collected.  He expects that every tribe member will act as he is expected to act for the greater good of the tribe as a whole until rescue occurs. 

He does not take into consideration the darkness of human nature that lurks just under the surface and leaps as the chance to be free.  Ralph does not anticipate Jack's style of leadership which incorporates manipulation and fear tactics.  Ralph certainly never saw the murders of Simon and Piggy coming.  He simply had confidence that every boy on the island would do what was right and good.

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Lord of the Flies

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