What is Ralph excited about in Chapter 1 of Lord of the Flies?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Ralph was excited when he blew the conch and boys showed up.

The boys find themselves stranded alone on a deserted island with no adults.  Soon, he finds another boy, Piggy.  He is pleased that Piggy has such a funny sounding nickname.  Ralph finds a conch shell, which he finds very exciting because when he blows on it several more boys show up.

“I bet you can hear that for miles.”

Ralph found his breath and blew a series of short blasts.

Piggy exclaimed: “There’s one!”

A child had appeared among the palms, about a hundred yards along the beach. (Ch. 1)

Ralph enjoys the fact that he has power over the boys, making them show up when he blows on the conch.  This is the beginning of Ralph’s reign, because the boys on the island vote him into power because he has the allure of the conch.

Piggy assures Ralph of the conch’s value when they find it.

“—a conch; ever so expensive. I bet if you wanted to buy one, you’d have to pay pounds and pounds and pounds—he had it on his garden wall, and my auntie—” (Ch. 1)

He also explains to Ralph how to use it.  It is the beginning of Ralph and Piggy’s uneasy alliance.  Ralph depends on Piggy, using his advice, but not really acknowledging him or treating him with respect.  Piggy needs Ralph for what little prestige the association gets him, but realizes that he is getting not much out of it.  When Ralph does listen to him, he barely does so. 

Jack, the leader of the choir, adds another element of trouble to the mix, because he challenges Ralph’s authority and also has no love or respect for Piggy.  It is the conch, and Piggy, that grant Ralph his power.  Jack knows this, and does his best from the beginning to whittle away at the conch’s influence.  He is eventually successful, increasing his own influence through his success at hunting.

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