What points illustrate Ralph as a bad person or a leader in Lord of the Flies?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Ralph is, for the most part, a good person; however, Ralph is not a good leader. Ralph is voted to be chief because he looks the part, and he's the guy that blew the conch. Personally, those aren't qualities I look for in a leader, but Ralph's voted chief by...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Ralph is, for the most part, a good person; however, Ralph is not a good leader. Ralph is voted to be chief because he looks the part, and he's the guy that blew the conch. Personally, those aren't qualities I look for in a leader, but Ralph's voted chief by a bunch of teenagers. He starts off as leader quite well, too. He delegates certain people and groups to have specific jobs. Ralph then leads by example by offering to do various jobs himself, too. He's not above work and everybody else; however, he still isn't a good leader.

The major piece of evidence is that leaders get people to follow them and support them, and Ralph is simply incapable of keeping control of the group and keeping their confidence. He starts with as much leadership "capital" as he can get, and he loses that capital day by day. If Ralph was actually a good leader, then he never would have lost as much control as he did. His leadership style is highly dependent on civilization existing and having adults around to make sure that the other boys follow and adhere to Ralph's democratic style of leading. Unfortunately, Ralph shows zero propensity to adapt to the no-adult environment. He keeps trying to do things his way even while realizing it's not working. Good leaders adapt to changing scenarios, and Ralph can't do that.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Overall, Ralph is a very good person and a natural leader. However, he is not flawless. Although he generally stands up for Piggy, he does laugh at him. Ralph chants the name "Piggy" at the very beginning of the novel, showing his childishness and thoughtlessness early on. As the novel goes on, Ralph tries to be more mature, more of a responsible leader. But initially, he mocks Piggy. When Jack calls him Fatty, Ralph corrects him, saying his name is Piggy. He apologizes and rationalizes "Better Piggy than Fatty." 

Ralph is not really a bad leader. In fact, he's a natural. But he is inexperienced and has the disadvantage of being a child trying to lead other children. One could argue that since he loses most of the boys to Jack's camp, he is the inferior leader. However, this has more to do with the boys' regression from civilized people to a savage mob. Following this regression, they are more interested in playing, hunting, and eating meat than they are with being rescued. 

Ralph and Piggy are the most logical, most responsible (Simon, the most innocent). However, Ralph does have the animal instinct in him as well. He and Piggy, perhaps out of fear and conformity, take part in the mob that kills Simon on the beach at the end of Chapter 9. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team