Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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The personal conflict between Ralph and Jack mirrors the overarching thematic conflict of the novel. The conflict between the two boys brews as early as the election in chapter 1 but remains hidden beneath the surface, masked by the camaraderie the boys feel as they work together to build a community. How do you see the boys growing more impatient and frustrated with each other? What are some of the events that occur during this phase in the reading?

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The conflict between Jack and Ralph can also be seen in the context of society and psychology. Jack is the "id" of human nature. He is eager for fun, for visceral enjoyment, and looks to act upon his desires. The longer he is on the island, the more he succeeds in throwing off the remanents of society and behaving only as his instincts suggest. The "throwing off" can be symbolized in the discarding of his clothing. The behavior is clearly demonstrated by his increasing obsession with the hunt and the kill.

Ralph, on the other hand, represents the "ego". He desires order and discipline. He looks for the approval of others. He is gratified to be elected leader and takes his role very seriously. He wants the boys to work together, wants to create a civilization with discipline and structure. He struggles to control his temptation to go off and play, like the younger boys and like Jack.

Early on, the boys struggle. Jack wants the leadership and wants to be accepted, because it plays into his desire for fun. He is angry at Ralph for winning. Ralph wants to play, wants to hunt and have fun with Jack, but feels trapped by his leadership role. All of their impatience stems from this - Jack trying to have fun, and Ralph trying to keep discipline.

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The personal conflict between Jack and Ralph mirrors the theme of "the eternal battle between good and evil," with Jack representing evil and Ralph representing good. In the course of the novel, good is overcome by evil. The conflict and the eventual takeover of good by evil is represented in the novel by the situations in which Jack and Ralph begin to become frustrated with one another.

One example of the brewing conflict appears in chapter four, when Ralph and Jack quarrel over the fire. Jack has become obsessed with hunting and catching a pig. Jack had been left to care for the fire, something vital to the boys' survival and rescue, and Jack chose to abandon the fire to go hunting. When Ralph discovers that the fire has gone out, the two boys argue about priorities.

Then, in chapter five, Jack and Ralph have a public disagreement over which of the two has personified "the beast" of whom the little'uns have become terrified. Ralph tries to stress the importance of order, values, and the fire, while Jack makes a passionate speech about the beast and hunting. Jack is the one met with roaring applause. Jack and Ralph then become embroiled in a greater conflict about "rules," which Ralph declares, "is all we've got," while Jack screams, "Bullocks to the rules—we're strong, we'll hunt!"

I recommend for more examples continuing to look in chapter five, and also in chapters six and seven.

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