Lord of the Flies Questions and Answers
by William Golding

Lord of the Flies book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What are some quotes from Lord of the Flies that best demonstrate Ralph's abilities as an order-seeking leader?

One of several quotes that demonstrate Ralph’s abilities as an order-seeking leader can be found in Chapter Two of Lord of the Flies, “Fire on the Mountain.” Ralph tells the boys, “If we have a signal going, they'll come and take us off. And another thing. We ought to have more rules. Where the conch is, that's a meeting. The same up here as down there." This demonstrates Ralph’s ability to lead by establishing rules in an effort to maintain order on the island, as well as his commitment to achieving rescue and a return to civilization.

Expert Answers info

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write11,376 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

There's another quotation which demonstrates Ralph's desire for order and stability on the island:

Jack’s in charge of the choir. They can be—what do you want them to be?

Ralph makes this decision after he's been democratically elected as leader of the boys. He knows that Jack's deeply unhappy at being rejected and that this unhappiness, if allowed to simmer, could well lead to trouble later on. So Ralph makes what he thinks is the wise decision to allow Jack to stay in charge of the boys in the choir.

On the face of it, this seems like a sensible gesture. But unfortunately, it shows how Ralph's desire for stability and order can often override basic common sense. For there's no way in a million years that Jack will ever be satisfied with being in charge of the choir. He wants absolute power over all the other boys and will do whatever it takes to get it and, having got it, hang onto it.

So long as Jack's around, he's going to present a danger to any kind of civilization on the island. And by allowing him to stay in control of the choir, by giving him his own gang, if you like, Ralph is inadvertently making a rod for his own back, giving Jack the tools with which to challenge his democratic power and establish in its stead a brutal dictatorship.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Julianne Hansen, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Clemson University


calendarEducator since 2019

write1,926 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

By chapter 2, Ralph is establishing himself as a leader when some members of the group become worried about the "beastie." First, Ralph assures the group that "we shall be rescued," and this immediately lifts the spirits of the group with the "weight of Ralph's new authority." He goes on to explain to them:

My father's in the Navy. He said there aren't any unknown islands left. He says the Queen has a big room full of maps and all the islands in the world are drawn there ... And sooner or later a ship will put in here ... So you see, sooner or later, we shall be rescued.

Ralph speaks with authority, and the group listens. With the help of a couple of supportive and fairly wise (for their ages) voices, he begins to develop plans to sustain the group on the island, prioritizing shelter and fire:

We can help them to find us. If a ship comes near the island they may not notice us. So we must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire.

This immediately motivates the boys, and quickly "half the boys were on their feet." This quote both shows that Ralph can effectively lead the group into action and that he understands the ultimate priority: getting rescued. He is not lost in the fantasies of make-believe that some of the boys become focused on.

Later, Ralph and Jack go with some of the older boys to try to find the beast. While out exploring, some of Jack's group gets off task with exploring a rocky cliff and even suggest moving camp to this area. It is Ralph's voice of reason that once again leads the group back to an organized and sensible plan:

There's no food here ... and no shelter. Not much fresh water. I say we'll go on! We've got to make certain.

Ralph both stays focused on the primary needs of the group without becoming distracted by Jack's primal needs for lawlessness and remains focused on the most important goals of the moment—this time, to determine where the beast is and what exactly they are up against.

In many situations (though not all), Ralph proves his ability to lead the group with organization and with clear thinking.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Douglas Horley eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write83 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

A great example of Ralph taking on tough situations as a leader is when the boys go in search of the beast, venturing into parts of the island they hadn't been to before. Ralph intrinsically knows that as leader he must physically take the lead in the hunting party, despite his feelings of great trepidation.

"His mouth was tight and pale. He put back his hair very slowly.....He forced his feet to move until they carried him out on to the neck of the land" (p. 130).

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,150 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Ralph has charisma and leadership qualities, but he bemoans that he cannot think as well as Piggy.  Nevertheless, he compensates for his thinking ability by asserting himself when Jack and the hunters act on their own:

"I'm chief," said Ralph, "because you chose me.  And we were going to keep the fire going.  Now you run after food--" (Chapter 9)

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Bruce Bergman eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Professor


calendarEducator since 2011

write3,640 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business

The initial situation is tough. When Piggy and Ralph recognize the situation they are in on the island, Piggy suggests that they call a meeting where Ralph quickly demonstrates his ability to both vocalize and assert command. His authority is also orderly as he suggests the vote which elects him to be chief. 

 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2012

write2,471 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Ralph does try and bring order to chaos on the island. His primary ojective is rescue, so the boys can reconnect to ciivilization. In the chapter two, "Fire on the Mountain," Ralph lays down rules for the boys about keeping rules, getting rescued, and using the conch.

"[I]f we have a signal going, they'll come and take us off. And another thing. we ought to have more rules. Where the conch is, that's a meeting. The same up here as down here" (42).

check Approved by eNotes Editorial



tonyz98 | Student

Ralph has charisma and leadership qualities, but he bemoans that he cannot think as well as Piggy.  Nevertheless, he compensates for his thinking ability by asserting himself when Jack and the hunters act on their own:

"I'm chief," said Ralph, "because you chose me.  And we were going to keep the fire going.  Now you run after food--" (Chapter 9)

I agree with your thinking. I think that Ralph is less intelligent than that of Piggy. THis is exemplified at the feast, where Piggy warns Ralph to leave before things get bad. However, Ralph does not listen and the two boys ended up participating in Piggy's death.