In what ways does William Golding use language in Lord of the Flies to develop conflict between Ralph and Jack?  

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Ralph and Jack, two of the main characters in William Golding's Lord of the Flies, are on a path of animosity virtually from the moment they meet, because Ralph is elected leader by the rest of the boys, and Jack believes he should have been the leader. There are many examples of each boy's actions which provide evidence that they view things differently and are therefore in conflict, but your question asks how Golding uses language (words) to develop the conflict between them.

Whenever Golding wants to point out specific differences between the boys, he makes a direct contrast between them. In chapter three, he notes that Ralph and Jack "looked at each other, baffled, in love and hate." In chapter four, he compares the way each of them is thinking at this moment.

The two boys faced each other. There was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill; and there was the world of longing and baffled common sense.

The best picture of the distance between these two boys which results in their constant conflict is this:

They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling, unable to communicate.

Two continents are equal in stature and standing, but they are never going to meet; this is why there is constant conflict and tension between Ralph and Jack from the beginning of the novel. Golding uses figurative language to effectively portray that conflict.