In Lord of the Flies, what were the flaws in Ralph's ability as a leader?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ralph did not hold the boys accountable for their mistakes and lack of effort throughout the novel. When Jack convinces Samneric to leave their post by the signal fire to hunt, which results in the fire going out,  there are no consequences for their actions. Ralph simply addresses the issue to Jack and raises his voice, while Samneric sit by idly and watch. Ralph does not punish the boys for their drastic mistake, which makes them feel like they can get away with whatever they want. Also, Ralph does not use positive reinforcement to motivate the boys to complete tasks. Rather than give commands and expect the boys to follow them blindly, Ralph should have given the boys incentives to built the huts, kill pigs, and maintain the signal fire. Instead, Ralph allowed the boys to go swimming and eat fruit before their tasks were complete. If Ralph had set up a system where the boys would be rewarded for completing tasks and punished for lack of effort, he would have been a successful leader. 

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ralph's major flaw as leader is that he does not follow through in his leadership with the boys.  He gives instructions and helps the boys to create rules for life on the island, but he does little to execute the law as they move forward.  If Ralph wants his leadership to be successful, he needs to take a more active role in actual leading, with active monitoring to ensure that his rules are being followed. 

Another flaw in Ralph's leadership is that he fails to think strategically; he should have taken more steps to address Jack's growing discontent, so in Chapter Eight, their ugly confrontation could have been avoided.  Ralph underestimates the seriousness of the other boys' emotions when addressing conflict within the tribe, and this devaluation results in a major rift that drives Ralph and Jack apart.

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Lord of the Flies

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