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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding
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What are the differences if you compare Ralph in the beginning of the story, with Ralph at the end of the story?

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To answer this question you need to consider the allegorical aspects of this novel, and what each of the main characters represent. It is clear that at the beginning of the novel Jack represents the forces of civilisation, order and control. He is elected leader of the boys and is dedicated to maintaining control and being involved in meaningful action to achieve this goal. His example, in building huts for example whilst the other boys play and avoid work, means that he is respected and thought of highly by the boys. However, as the novel progresses, the forces of savagery, represented by Jack, become greater, and finally all the boys except Ralph and Piggy join Jack and his hunters.

Through the course of the novel, Ralph, like Simon, comes to understand that savagery is something that dwells within all of the boys. Although at the beginning of the novel Ralph is bewildered at Jack's bloodlust, we can see that Ralph comes to understand this personally when he hunts a boar and joins in the dancing afterwards, and even participates in the murder of Simon. Despite his best intentions, he is forced to realise that his savage instinct is part of him, as it is an essential characteristic of mankind. This epiphany or realisation plunges him into despair for a while, but it also enables him to cast down the Lord of the Flies at the end of the novel. At the end of the story, ironically, although Jack is rescued by the naval officer, his tears indicate that it is his innocence that has been lost irrevocably through the knowledge he has gained about the essential human condition.  

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