What are Ralph and Jack's leadership techniques in the Lord of the Flies?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ralph tries to rule with a sense of democracy, but he nags when he is ineffective.  Jack rules through totalitarian means, and relies on fear to make sure no one defies him.

Ralph is the one who directs things from the beginning, always focusing on a practical purpose.  He blows the seashell and it calls the boys together.  He then determines that they need a leader. 

“Shut up,” said Ralph absently. He lifted the conch. “Seems to me we ought to have a chief to decide things.”

“A chief! A chief!”

“I ought to be chief,” said Jack with simple arrogance, “because I’m chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp.” (Ch. 1) 

Notice the difference between Ralph and Jack’s approach.  Jack believes that he should be the leader.  He doesn’t think that a leader should be voted on, he just assumes that it should be him.  To him, leaders are determined based on accomplishments.  He has been leader, of the choir, and he can sing.  Thus, he should be leader now.  He doesn’t want a vote, but gives in to the masses. 

What Jack does approve of is the need for rules.  He wants to have rules, because rules allow him to impose his will on others.  He immediately associates rules with punishments for offenders. 

Jack was on his feet.

“We’ll have rules!” he cried excitedly. “Lots of rules! Then when anyone breaks ’em–” (Ch. 1) 

As leader, Ralph is fairly ineffectual.  He uses the conch to call meetings to order.  During meetings, the boys use it for turn-taking.  Ralph then spends most of his time as leader complaining about the fact that the other boys aren’t doing anything.  They aren’t building shelters or tending fires as he would like. 

Jack has a different leadership style.  After the schism, he takes the hunters and most of the older boys and they focus on killing pigs.  Meat is not the only thing they want.  They also want to kill the pig, and create a pig-killing dance complete with war paint.  Jack has Wilfred tied to a tree and beaten, apparently just to prove he is in charge.

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Lord of the Flies

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