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 does Ralph represent in Lord of the Flies?

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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.

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In Lord of the Flies, Ralph is closely linked to the conch throughout the novel.  Both the boy and the shell come to represent law and order.  Ralph is originally elected chief, because of his control of the conch which sets Ralph apart from the other boys.  Later, Ralph uses the conch to establish order in the meeting.  He holds it up and dictates that the boys will use it like "hands-up" at school to take turns when speaking.  Ralph establishes other rules for the benefit of the boys like keeping fresh water available, using the bathroom away from the fruit trees, building huts, and keeping the signal fire lit.  Ralph's main objective is rescue and a return to civilization.  As the other boys descend into savagery, Ralph struggles to remain true to himself and fights to keep the rescue signal lit up until the very end.  

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