In Lord of the Flies, what are some quotes from Lord of the Flies that best demonstrate Ralph's or Jack's understanding of others' feelings or concerns?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lord of the Flies may appear to have all the elements of a typical story about boys stranded on an island, and may even begin that way, that is, with an air of predictability. The boys struggle to create shelter and have a few disagreements along the way, but it seems that Ralph has it under control, and is the best choice of leader, with a lesser leadership role for Jack. Ralph and Jack even have a respect for each other, as they "smiled at each other with shy liking," in chapter one. 

They initially want the same thing; both try to appease the scared boys by suggesting that they can have fun and do whatever they want because there are no "grown-ups." Ralph talks about his own father coming to save them, and "the assembly was lifted towards safety by his words." However, it does not take long before they begin to clash over what may or may not be important, and how to best manage their time on the island. When the two boys talk in chapter three about the shelter, hunting, and the other boys' nightmares, they are both very aware that something has to be done. Jack says," I know how they feel. See? That's all." He is referring to the sense that there is something sinister lurking on the island. 

Jack is aware that the boys are excited by the prospect of hunting, but hunting comes at the expense of the fire and any potential rescue. In chapter four, Jack is excited by the results of his exploits and hunting skills, but he does apologize about the fire which earns him respect. As stated in the novel, "the buzz from the hunters was one of admiration... Jack had done the decent thing." Jack has been very clever and understands that his feigned apology will help his cause and make Ralph look bad.

In chapter five, Ralph needs to help the boys focus on what is important. Having called a meeting at the end of chapter four, Ralph addresses the boys. He understands Piggy's contribution, as Piggy "ha[s] brains." He understands that he needs to repeat everything at least twice, and that he needs to keep things simple for the "littluns." Ralph understands that the boys are vulnerable to Jack's idea of fun, so he sets out the rules and repeats himself. He also talks about their fears because he knows that they need to be addressed. He says, "We've got to talk about this fear." 

Jack also tries to support Ralph in discussing the boys' fear. However, his methods are different from Ralph's, and although Jack does understand the boys' concerns, he sometimes makes matters worse, not better. He calls the boys "sissies" but tells them categorically that "there is no animal" that is after them. He goes on to say that "there is no beast in the forest." His words have the desired effect, and the boys "applauded him with relief." 

The meeting does not go well but Ralph shows that he does have an understanding that Jack and the hunters have different priorities. He says, "We're all drifting and things are going rotten." 

While both Ralph and Jack know that the beast is now dominating the boys' thoughts, Ralph remains conscious of his responsibility to the "littluns." He also knows that the boys want to be rescued, and uses that to persuade them that they should be listening to him. He and Jack decide to go to the only part of the island that Jack has not explored because they know how important it is. Ralph takes the lead because he is chief, but Jack does support him. As usual, however, Jack is distracted, and by the end of chapter six, Jack is becoming more influential over the boys. 

In the end, it will not be enough to understand what the other boys may want, or think they want, as Piggy and Simon will die, and "Ralph we[eps] for the end of innocence." 



kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After going up and exploring the island and determining that it is an island, Ralph tells the other boys in the meeting that "While [they're] waiting [they] can have a good time on this island.” He understands that it isn't just about having enough food and water but there also has to be consideration for their feelings. He is hesitant when talking about getting shot down and the fact that no one knows they are there. But when they bring up the idea of being on the island for a long time, he makes sure to point out that it could be fun, that it is a great island to be stranded on.

Jack too is aware of the importance of the boy's feelings and in the same meeting he demonstrates it when he responds to the boys talking about the "snake thing." He says "Ralph’s right of course. There isn’t a snake-thing. But if there was a snake we’d hunt it and kill it." His understanding of their feelings is slightly different because he sees the importance of managing their fear. Eventually this will serve him well as he angles for control of the boys and uses their fear to bring them over to his group of hunters and their more savage outlook on life on the island.

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Lord of the Flies

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