In the novel, Ralph's character symbolically represents civilization, democracy, and order. Ralph is originally chosen to be the leader of the group and attempts to establish a civil society on the uninhabited island. Unlike Jack, Ralph is a proponent of civilization and creates several rules in an attempt to establish a structured, comfortable society. Ralph creates rules regarding the conch in order to organize assemblies and also establishes priorities regarding the signal fire, constructing huts, and designating locations to relieve oneself. Ralph also opposes Jack and defends the vulnerable boys like Piggy and the littluns.
Despite Ralph's benevolence and positive intentions, he experiences lapses in civility, which reveal his inherent primitive nature. Although Ralph is flawed like the rest of humanity, he is portrayed as a relatively selfless, compassionate leader, who is a proponent of civilization and wishes to establish a structured, comfortable community on the island.