What are three main similarities and differences between Jack and Ralph from the novel Lord of the Flies?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In William Golding's allegory Lord of the Flies, Ralph and Jack represent many of the qualities and faults in man.

  • Similarities

Both Ralph and Jack exhibit leadership qualities, although their styles of leadership differ. They both make decisions for others and are able to direct those under them.
Whereas Ralph is committed to morality and Jack to brute force, they both strive to control those under them.

Both are respected by the boys who are their followers. Ralph's physical appeal is powerful: He is possessive of the "golden body"(Ch.1) and is able to "turn neatly on his feet" (Ch.1) much like a ancient Greek or Roman athlete. Jack, a redhead, possesses a fierceness that commands respect and obedience out of fear, however. 

--Inherent Violence
Both enjoy violence and the atavistic appeal to their intrinsic natures as in, for instance, the excitement of the hunt.

[Jack] tried to convey the compulsion to track down and kill that was swallowing him up.

"I went on. I thought, by myself—"
The madness came into his eyes again."I thought I might kill." (Chapter 3)

 Even in the hunting ritual in which Simon is pulled in and beaten to death, Ralph participates in the suffering imposed upon this sensitive boy and does not order any one to stop. It is only later that he feels guilt.

  • Differences

Ralph and Jack differ in their personalities as Ralph listens to Piggy, the voice of reason, and Simon, the spiritual voice. He is open to the ideas and opinions of others.
Jack, on the other hand, is dictatorial and violent; he prefers action to reasoning and discussion. He rules by intimidation.

--Manner of ruling:
Ralph continually strives for democracy since he tries to hold meetings in which individuals are allowed to voice their opinions and suggestions as they hold the conch. He also appeals to the boys' sense of duty and adherence to civilized methods of discussion such as the rules of order.

Jack, on the other hand, is dictatorial in his ruling of the hunters. He uses intimidation and fear--at one point Sam-n-Eric tell Ralph that they are beaten if they do not follow Jack's orders--and he has Roger following behind Jack as they ascend the mountain in Chapter Seven. When Ralph rests, the "impervious" Roger bangs "his silly wooden stick against something" to intimidate Ralph. Later, Jack tries to flush out Ralph and capture him during his savage pursuit by setting fire to the brush.

Ralph abhors his long hair "creeping into his eyes again" (Ch. 5), and he yearns for his home and civilization where he was neat and clean and life was orderly. On the other hand, Jack enjoys painting his face and running around with few, if any, clothes on him. He likes the spontaneity of the hunt and the impetuous satisfaction of urges.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Similarities and differences between Ralph and Jack in William Golding's Lord of the Flies:

DIFFERENCES.  Ralph is the more intelligent of the two. Ralph seems to be far more concerned with being rescued than Jack. Ralph's desire to maintain an orderly and democratic system of life while on the island is much stronger than Jack's idea of fairness.

SIMILARITIES.  I see far fewer similarities between the two boys. However, both Jack and Ralph have obvious leadership qualities and show their bravery while hunting. They are both athletic, and they are English. 

mkcapen1 | Student

In doing a comparison and contrast between Jack and Ralph one can say that both boys were around the same age and were part of the older group of boys.  Each of the boys had a strong personality which gave them the qualities of a leader and they were both physically fit and in good shape.

The difference in the boys is more prevalent because of the nature of the story.  Jack had a more aggressive and violent nature.  Ralph relished the qualities of a more civilized society and refused to engage in wild savage behaviors.  Jack gravitated towards follower’s that  were sadistic such as Rodger while Ralph tended to take on relationships with those ho needed him and who he could help like Piggy and the small boys.  Ralph was responsible and recognized that the fire needed to be controlled.  Jack abandoned traditional roles and responsibilities.

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Lord of the Flies

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