What are the strengths and weaknesses of Jack and Ralph in "Lord of the Flies"?

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kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the weaknesses that Ralph has that has not been mentioned previously is that he too feels the joy of the hunt and the immense pleasure of visiting violence on another creature. When he wounds the pig on the hunt with Jack, he cannot deny the surge of pleasure it gives him and that he wishes to share in the "victory" of a kill with the other boys. 

He also realizes that he cannot think the way Piggy can. He thinks of this as part of the reason things are not going his way but he has no ability to resolve it and move forward. He remains frustrated and stuck in wanting to have order and wanting to be rescued. At the same time, he has no idea how to turn the boys away from Jack and back to his way of seeing things.

Another of Jack's strengths is that he clearly understands how the boys' fear can be used to manipulate them. He sees this very quickly but Ralph cannot see it. It is perhaps the main reason that Jack is eventually successful in drawing the boys over to his side as he finds a way to help them manage and channel their fear so they turn to him despite his meanness and their original choice of Ralph as a leader.

morrowl16 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ralph and Jack are two main characters in William Golding's Lord of the Flies. Throughout the novel, both Ralph and Jack display various strengths and weaknesses. 

Ralph has many strengths, one is that he is a true leader. At the start of the novel, Ralph presents himself as a leader when he tries to establish order on the island. He also displays leadership qualities in his attempts to instill civilized values within the boys. By the same token, one of his strengths is his dedication. He makes it clear through his actions that he is dedicated to the hope of eventual rescue. One of Ralph's weaknesses is that he does not display social charisma in his attempts to gain the respect of the boys.

Jack also displays strengths throughout the novel; however, he has different strengths than Ralph. Opposite of Ralph, Jack has social charisma and easily gains power from the other boys, despite the fact that he is not originally elected chief. In terms of his weaknesses, Jack can be careless and reckless. He also has no moral compass and often struggles to identify right from wrong.

podunc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ralph has genuine leadership attributes, including a love of order and a belief in democracy. On the other hand, he does lack Jack's political prowess and social charisma. Most importantly, Ralph, along with Piggy and Simon, seems to have an internal moral compass that many of the other boys lack.

Jack, unlike Ralph, comes off as arrogant and charismatic to the other boys. He is a clever strategist, and manages to secure his own authority on the island despite the fact that he is not elected chief. He is also careless, with a skewed sense of priorities--qualities most clearly shown when he allows the signal fire to go out.

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Lord of the Flies

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