What conclusion does Ralph come to about being a chief and his own ability?This question is in chapter 5 of the novel, Lord of the Flies

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter Five of Lord of the Flies, Ralph walks down a narrow path, concerning about the late-afternoon meeting that he has called:

He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life where everything was an improvisation and a considerable part of one's waking life was spent watching one's feet.

It is apparent that the pressure of having to act like an adult all the time is wearing upon Ralph.  He realizes the importance of the meeting, the necessity to be prepared.  But, Ralph also realizes his inadequacies.  For instance,

The trouble was, if you were a chief you had to think, you had to be wise,  And then the occasion slipped by so that you had to grab at a decision.  This made you think; because thought was a valuable thing, that got results...

But, Ralph knows, he cannot think as the more mature appearing Piggy can, logically going step by step in his analyses of situations.  Ralph knows that his physical presence and his charisma are what made him chief, but he is inferior to Piggy, who "had brains."  But, he does know that the assembly is needed "to put things straight."  After the boys assemble, Ralph uses the opportunity to reinforce the importance of the fire as their only means of rescue; he says that the fire must remain on the mountaintop.

When others such as Jack and Piggy attempt to speak, Ralph asserts himself and does not allow them.  Finally, Jack grabs the conch and speaks, calling the boys cry-babies for their fear of the beast.  When Ralph interrupts because he worries that Jack is putting ideas in the boys' heads, Jack berates him for personifying the beast in the first place.  Then, in a show of his physical prowess, Jack declares that there is no beast; were there such a beast he and the hunters would have seen it.

At this point, Ralph feels his leadership being threatened; he interrupts Jack,but the boys applaud Jack instead.  Still, Ralph fights for control over the group, asserting himself against the others.  But, when Jack asserts his strengths in hunting and singing (Jack is leader of the choir), Ralph is defeated in his call to following rules.  "Who cares?" shouts Jack and Ralph's reminder of the importance of the rules is also shouted down.  Here Ralph also realizes the power of brute force, even against the thinking Piggy.  Ralph's advantage as chief has been lost. 




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Lord of the Flies

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