In William Golding's "Lord of the Flies," who is elected chief?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Lord of the Flies," the election of chief is pivotal to the narrative as the establishment of leader on the island foreshadows the rising action and the resulting conflicts in Golding's novel.

To Piggy, Ralph, with his "golden body," is the obvious candidate for leader of the boys in Chapter One.  However, in marches tall Jack, the head of the choir.  He, too, has leadership qualities as he orders, "Choir! Stand still!" Piggy, the intelligent and more mature of the group is "intimidated by this uniformed superiority and the offhand authority in Merridew's voice. Golding foreshadows the struggle between intellectual thought and brute force in this narrative statement:

He [Piggy] shrank to the other side of Ralph and busied himself with his glasses.

When Jack calls him "Fatty," Ralph informs the group that his name is Piggy:  "For a moment the boys were a closed circuit of sympathy with Piggy outside."  Outside this circle, too, is a "furtive boy...with an inner intensity of avoidance and secrecy" named Roger. (Here is the introduction of good vs. evil.)

After a vote in which all the intimidated choir raise their hands for Jack as leader, others vote for Ralph, and he is elected; the boys, including the choir, applaud.  "Jack's face disappeared under a blush of mortification."  In a conciliatory manner, Ralph suggests that Jack can be the leader of the choir, of course.  Thus is established the rivalry between Jack and Ralph which, of course, becomes a power struggle on the island, the struggle between rational and savage behavior.

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Lord of the Flies

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