In Lord of the Flies, Ralph is changed by his experiences on the island. How does Golding show this change?

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robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ralph is fair-haired, an Everyman. He can talk to all of the other boys and they all naturally like him. He's an easy choice, and he also comes with the advantage of being associated with the conch and democracy. That's why he gets elected in the first place:

There was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on his knees, was set apart.

Yet, as the novel goes on, Ralph feels the pressure of leadership. He can't focus his thoughts the same way as he could:

“Stop it! Stop it!”
His voice struck a silence among them.
A strange thing happened in his head. Something flittered there in front of his mind like a bat’s wing, obscuring his idea.

As the novel continues, Golding shows Ralph mentally struggling to cope - there are little clues everywhere:

Then there were his nails— Ralph turned his hand over and examined them. They were bitten down to the quick though he could not remember when he had restarted this habit nor any time when he indulged it.
“Be sucking my thumb next—”
He looked round, furtively. Apparently no one had heard.

Particularly after Piggy dies, Ralph entirely loses his control over the island. What Ralph really loses, I'd argue, as the novel continunes is clarity of thought.

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Lord of the Flies

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