Where in the novel does Golding show inner conflict in the character of Ralph in Lord of the Flies?Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the boys remain on the island, losing their hold upon the civilization from which they have been separated, the leaders among them begin to divide as their designs differ from one another. For instance, Jack simply desires power; somewhat sadistically, he wishes to control the others.  On the other hand, Piggy fears such tyranny and wishes that everyone remain rational.  Similarly, Ralph desires to maintain order through civilized means so that the boys's lives will be structured and safe with the goal of rescue at the forefront of all activities.

So, at the end of Chapter Four of Lord of the Flies, Ralph watches the boys engaged in the mock killing of the pig at which they have been successful, and he is "envious and resentful" of Jack.  For, Jack controls the boys while Ralph has been ineffective.  In Chapter Five, Ralph knows that the assembly which he calls must demonstrate his competence, or he will lose the position of leader:

He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of waking life was spent watching one's feet.

When he reaches the chief's seat at the triangle where the boys meet, Ralph perceives the place differently because it is later in the day than is usual for meetings. This change in lighting causes Ralph to wonder about the appearance and existence of things: 

If faces were different when lit from above or below--what was a face?  What was anything?

Faced with such existential ponderings, Ralph has "to adjust his values."  Considering himself "a specialist in thought," Ralph realizes how much better in thought Piggy is than he.  He knows that he needs to very serious in the assembly and make his argument to the boys a strong and urgent one.  At this point, Ralph suffers internal conflict as wrestles with how he will maintain his leadership.

Then, in Chapter Eleven, as he hides from the hunters, Ralph wrestles inwardly as he faces the savagery of the boys,

He had even glimpsed one of them...and ha judged that it was Bill.  But really, thought Ralph, this was not Bill.  This was a savage who image refused to blend with that ancient picture of a boy in shorts and shirt.

Further, as he limps through the trees, Ralph argues unconvincingly to himself until "the fatal unreasoning knowledge came to him again."

The breaking of the conch and the deaths of Piggy and Simon lay over the island like a vaopr.  These painted savages would go further and further....A spasm of terror set him shaking and he cried aloud,

"No.  They're not as bad as that.  It was an accident."

Of course, Ralph's external conflict ends when the naval officer appears and rescues him.  As he stands before the officer, Ralph cries for "the loss of innocence" and "the darkness of man's heart," the realization of his inner conflicts.

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Lord of the Flies

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