Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

Start Free Trial

Discussion Topic

An analysis of Ralph's leadership skills, including quotes demonstrating both his strengths and weaknesses, in Lord of the Flies

Summary:

Ralph demonstrates strong leadership skills in Lord of the Flies through his focus on rescue and order, exemplified by his insistence on maintaining the signal fire: "We must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire." However, his weaknesses include occasional indecisiveness and inability to maintain control, highlighted when he fails to prevent the group's descent into savagery.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What quotes in Lord of the Flies show that Ralph, Jack, Piggy, or Simon lacked leadership skills?

One of the first moments that Ralph shows that perhaps his leadership skills and understanding are lacking comes when he is talking to Piggy. He states with some confidence that his father will rescue them as soon as he gets some leave. But when Piggy presses him to find out how he would know where they were, Ralph says that "they'd tell him at the airport."

Piggy quickly points out that he couldn't possibly have told him at the airport because the atom bomb would have wiped all those people out. Later in the story we again find Ralph demonstrating that he can't think well enough to be the chief. He says on page 110 that he "can't think. Not like Piggy." He is aware of his weakness and able to articulate it to himself. But he has no way of overcoming it.

Ralph also understands that he is just as broken inside as Jack and the other hunters after they murder Simon. He asks Piggy on page 225 "Don't you understand, Piggy? The things we did..." His inability to come to terms with what happened further undermines his confidence in his ability to lead. He knows that he was a part of this terrible murder and that he lacks the moral authority to be a leader.

Last Updated on

Videos

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What quotes about Ralph in Lord of the Flies demonstrate his weak leadership?

While Ralph appears as a natural leader—"there was his size and attractive appearance"—he possesses flaws that weaken his leadership.

Ralph understands well the need for order and rules, but he does not understand the boys' need for gratification. Keeping the fire burning and building shelters are not as exciting as the activity that Jack suggests, so without any kind of immediate reward for the boys, Ralph loses them to the hunt that Jack leads.

Ralph often relies upon Piggy for ideas. It is Piggy who suggests the use of the conch, and when Jack and the hunters steal the fire, it is Piggy who suggests that Ralph's group build another fire on the beach. In "a strange mood of speculation," Ralph realizes that thought is

a valuable thing, that got results . . . . Only, decided Ralph as he faced the chief's seat, I can't think. Not like Piggy. (Ch. 5)

Later, in Chapter 8, Jack recognizes this weakness in Ralph: "He's like Piggy. He says things like Piggy. He isn't a proper chief." And unlike Jack, who uses Roger as an enforcer, Ralph has no method to enforce his rules other than to appeal to the boys' sense of duty, which has deteriorated on the island where savagery is exciting and brute force dominates. When, for instance, Ralph appeals to the boys' sense of the need for rules—"The rules are the only thing we've got!"—Jack shouts against him,

Bullocks to the rules! We're strong—we hunt! If there's a beast, we'll hunt it down! We'll close in and beat and beat and beat— (Ch. 8)

This brute force of Jack, who unites the boys with fear and intimidation, overcomes the rule of Ralph, who does not know how to turn the boys away from Jack. Ralph's democratic way of thinking cannot adjust in order to fight the other influences on the island. In addition, he often finds his mind clouded in stressful situations.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What quotes about Ralph in Lord of the Flies demonstrate his weak leadership?

In Chapter 4 of Lord of the Flies, Ralph shows his weak leadership.  At this point in the story, the boys have spotted a ship and are hopeful that the ship will see the signal from the fire that is supposed to be at the top of the mountain.  Piggy cannot see if there is smoke coming from the fire and asks Ralph if he thinks the ship can see the signal.  Ralph, however, does not answer him.  He starts to run to the mountain when he realizes that if the fire is out, he'll need Piggy's glasses to get it going again.  Ralph cannot figure out what to do:  "Balanced on a high peak of need, agonized by indecision, Ralph cried out, 'Oh God, oh God!'"  Here, Ralph displays a serious moment of weakness through his indecision.  The fire is in fact out and the ship does pass the island.  Ralph finally takes action by running to the peak and screaming for help, but it is too late.  Ralph is not able to mobilize the boys or himself to make a feasible attempt at saving themselves and thus shows his weakness as a leader.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What quotes about Ralph in Lord of the Flies demonstrate his weak leadership?

In Chapter 2, Ralph conveys his leadership by holding an assembly to discuss the necessary tasks to complete for survival and rescue. He says, "There's another thing. We can help them find us. If a ship comes near the island they may not notice us. So we must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire" (Golding 38). Throughout the novel, Ralph consistently reminds the boys of the importance of maintaining a signal fire at all times. However, as the novel progresses, the boys choose to join Jack's tribe and dismiss the importance of a signal fire.

In Chapter 6, Samneric return from the top of the mountain and claim that they've witnessed the beast. Jack is quick to call a search party and encourages his hunters to follow him to kill the beast. Ralph displays his leadership by attempting to focus the conversation on what really matters, which is maintaining the signal fire. He says, "Hasn't anyone got any sense? We've got to relight that fire. You never thought of that, Jack, did you? Or don't any of you want to be rescued?" (Golding 102) In this scene, Ralph challenges Jack in front of the boys to establish his role as chief.

Later on in Chapter 6, the boys are on an expedition to search for the beast and come to an unknown location on the island. Ralph bravely volunteers to walk on the narrow ledge of rock by himself while the other hunters wait behind. Ralph says, "You. Hide here. Wait for me" (Golding 104). Ralph displays leadership by taking it upon himself to explore the dangerous area of the island on his own. His actions prove that he is a courageous leader.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What quotes about Ralph in Lord of the Flies demonstrate his weak leadership?

In some ways, Ralph is a leader from the very beginning.  Piggy is his first follower.  Ralph is ready to be leader from the very beginning.  Because he blew the conch, and because he has a “stillness” about him that the others respect, he is chosen as leader.

Jack started to protest but the clamor changed from the general wish for a chief to an election by acclaim of Ralph himself. None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. (Ch. 1)

 to keep order.  He maintains assemblies and encourages civilized behavior.  He runs into conflict with Jack because of this, since Jack is always trying to take control for himself.  The fact that Ralph is able to get the boys together to accomplish important tasks like keeping the fire going and building huts shows that he is a good leader, but the boys don’t necessarily accomplish much.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What quotes about Ralph in Lord of the Flies demonstrate his weak leadership?

First of all, Ralph is chosen as the leader for nebulous reasons. He hasn’t actually exhibited any leadership skills, except when he blew the conch and all of the boys came, drawn to the sound. He is elected leader almost immediately. 

None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. (Ch. 1) 

Jack has leadership experience because he is the head of the choir. He leverages the choir to become leader of the hunters, and then slowly creates a schism between his followers and Ralph’s followers, undermining his leadership. 

Ralph’s leadership problems extend beyond Jack. He doesn’t know how to get the boys to do what he wants. Ralph tries to provide civilization and order to the island, but the boys are usually not interested in his ideas. Getting them to work is next to impossible. 

“Been working for days now. And look!”

Two shelters were in position, but shaky. This one was a ruin.

“And they keep running off. You remember the meeting? How everyone was going to work hard until the shelters were finished?” (Ch. 3) 

Jack’s way is more fun. The boys would rather paint their faces and eat pig meat than build shelters and mind a signal fire. Even when Ralph’s ideas are good, nothing comes of them. He doesn’t know how to get the other boys to listen to him.

After Simon and Piggy have died and most of the boys are allied with Jack, Ralph blames himself for what happened. He believes he should have been a better leader and prevented the tragedies that unfolded.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What quotes about Ralph in Lord of the Flies demonstrate his weak leadership?

When looking for quotes that demonstrate Ralph's leadership on the island in Lord of the Flies, you'll want to look for moments when he asserts a sense of authority—and when the boys listen to his guidance. You'll also want to consider quotes that demonstrate his sensibility and rational thinking.

By chapter 2, Ralph has really begun to find his stride as the group's elected leader. When the boys begin to worry about the "beastie," Ralph takes a moment to encourage them. He assures them that they "shall be rescued," and the boys recognize "Ralph's new authority." He calms their fears instead of letting emotions get out of hand, and his words bring the boys "light and happiness." He continues,

And sooner or later a ship will put in here. It might even be Daddy’s ship. So you see, sooner or later, we shall be rescued.

The boys are so encouraged by Ralph's motivational speech that they burst into applause, which demonstrates their confidence in him.

Later, the boys begin to argue over the authority of the conch as they are trying to get the fire started. Jack insists that the conch "doesn't count on top of the mountain," and Piggy disagrees. This could quickly escalate into a moment of chaos, but Ralph steps in to reestablish order:

We’ve got to have special people for looking after the fire. Any day there may be a ship out there ... and if we have a signal going they’ll come and take us off. And another thing. We ought to have more rules. Where the conch is, that’s a meeting. The same up here as down there.

This quote demonstrates Ralph's sense of practicality as a leader. He is planning for the ultimate goal of the group: rescue. He also insists that the group follow his guidance as he clarifies that the rules of order exist all over the island and are not confined to particular locations. The boys "assent" to his decision—even Jack.

Particularly in these early chapters, Ralph demonstrates a capacity for making wise decisions. The boys look to him for guidance and encouragement, which are useful qualities of a leader.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What quotes reveal Ralph's character in Lord of the Flies?

Ralph is a responsible leader who has his priorities in order. Ralph understands the importance of maintaining a signal fire to attract passing ships and continually reminds the group of boys about its significance. In Chapter 5, Ralph holds an assembly and says,

"The fire is the most important thing on the island. How can we ever be rescued except by luck, if we don’t keep a fire going? Is a fire too much for us to make?" (Golding 113).

Ralph is also a self-conscious individual who does not have confidence in his leadership abilities. Throughout the novel, Ralph continually mentions that he does not have the intelligence needed to be a proper chief. After the majority of the boys decide to leave Ralph's group, he tells Piggy,

"I ought to give up being chief. Hear ’em" (Golding 131).

Although Ralph is not a successful leader, he is a brave person who is sympathetic to the needs of others. In Chapter 11, Ralph travels to Castle Rock in order to retrieve Piggy's glasses. Ralph courageously challenges Jack to his face and says,

"You could have had fire whenever you wanted. But you didn’t. You came sneaking up like a thief and stole Piggy’s glasses!" (Golding 254).

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are positive and negative quotes about Ralph's leadership in Lord of the Flies?

Ralph displays both positive and negative leadership qualities throughout the novel. His leadership abilities are put to the test when he becomes the elected chief of the boys on the island. Ralph begins by making some good decisions, such as setting ground rules to follow during assembly meetings. Ralph says,

"We can't have everybody talking at once. We'll have to have 'Hands up' like at school." (Golding 33)

Ralph also encourages the boys at the beginning of the novel by saying,

"And sooner or later a ship will put in here. It might even be Daddy's ship. So you see, sooner or later, we shall be rescued." (Golding 37)

Ralph also makes the important decision to maintain a signal fire on top of the mountain to aid in their rescue. Ralph says,

"There's another thing. We can help them to find us. If a ship comes near the island they may not notice us. So we must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire." (Golding 38)

In Chapter 4, Ralph confronts Jack after the signal fire goes out and they miss an opportunity to be rescued. He says,

"You and your blood, Jack Merridew! You and your hunting! We might have gone home---" (Golding 70)

By challenging and confronting Jack about prioritizing hunting ahead of rescue, Ralph displays his role as the boys' chief.

As the novel progresses, Ralph makes some serious misjudgments and loses support from the majority of the boys. In Chapter 2, Ralph begins to forget the rules he put in place about individuals speaking during the assemblies. Piggy is holding the conch attempting to speak and looks at Ralph to support him. When Piggy states that he's got the conch, Ralph says, "What's that?" (Golding 45) In Chapter 5, Jack argues during an assembly and convinces his followers to go hunting. Ralph tells Piggy,

"I ought to give up being chief. Hear 'em." (Golding 93)

Ralph's reaction to adversity is to give up, which is not a positive quality for a leader to have. In Chapter 10, when Ralph is attempting to encourage Samneric to build another fire he says,

"There was something good about fire. Something overwhelmingly good." (Golding 163)

Ralph begins to lose focus on what is important and is unable to motivate the few members of his tribe toward the end of the novel.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What three quotes from Ralph in Lord of the Flies show his good leadership?

Interestingly, Ralph is recognized as not being the most obvious leader of the group from the beginning:

None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch.

Ralph lacks the intelligence of Piggy or the natural leadership skills of Jack. Yet he demonstrates a "stillness," a calm demeanor that isn't easily shaken. This is a valuable trait in a leader, and the fact that he is larger than the other boys certainly improves his leadership standing in the group. When they emerge from the jungle, the boys immediately begin searching for an adult; in the absence of all adults, Ralph's size sets him apart as a potential protector for the group, many of whom are quite young.

Ralph also proves willing to recognize his mistakes and attempts to atone for his shortcomings:

Ralph, looking with more understanding at Piggy, saw that he was hurt and crushed. He hovered between the two courses of apology or further insult.

"Better Piggy than Fatty," he said at last, with the directness of genuine leadership, "and anyway, I'm sorry if you feel like that. Now go back, Piggy, and take names. That's your job."

It is Ralph's fault that the group begins calling Piggy by the nickname that he had shared with Ralph in confidence. Ralph realizes that he should not have divulged this information and apologizes for his actions. The ability to acknowledge fault and attempt to repair relationships is a quality which good leaders embrace. His "direct" form of leadership is effective in diffusing further conflict.

After a quick assessment of the island, it is Ralph who begins to organize the group into smaller divisions who can focus on their collective needs:

"So you see," said Ralph, "We need hunters to get us meat. And another thing."

He lifted the shell on his knees and looked round the sun-slashed faces.

"There aren't any grownups. We shall have to look after ourselves."

Ralph understands that surviving without the wisdom of adults is going to be a feat. He wants to be sure that the boys understand the gravity of their situation; they must depend on themselves if they are going to survive the wilderness. To do so, they will need to begin dividing the labor needed to complete daily tasks of living, particularly as they establish their camp. Ralph is forthright and direct as he begins dividing the large group into smaller, task-oriented groups.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What three quotes from Ralph in Lord of the Flies show his good leadership?

These are three quotes about Ralph. The first is from Chapter One:

This toy of voting was almost as pleasing as the conch. Jack started to protest but the clamor changed from the general wish for a chief to an election by acclaim of Ralph himself. None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on his knees, was set apart.

This quote is interesting, as it lays out the reasons why the boys would vote for Ralph over Piggy or Jack. Piggy certainly has the brains for the job, and all the best ideas on the island are often traced back to him; however, he lacks the appearance and the charisma, and most of the boys see him as a joke. Jack has the charisma and the experience, having been the head boy in his choir and being used to bossing around his fellow singers. Ralph’s distinguishing feature is essentially his maturity. He’s not reaching for authority or getting overly excited in the way that Jack is, so he reminds the young boys of the adults which had previously been in charge of them. Ralph is nearly unanimously voted in.

Ralph shaded his eyes and followed the jagged outline of the crags up toward the mountain. This part of the beach was nearer the mountain than any other that they had seen. ‘We’ll try climbing the mountain from here,’ he said. ‘I should think this is the easiest way. There’s less of that jungly stuff, and more pink rock. Come on.'

In this opening chapter, Ralph has an easy-going leadership style, and seems to naturally have an idea of where to lead and how to do it. Simon and Jack follow him easily up the mountain as they explore the area and get a sense of their surroundings. Ralph is a good leader here, not only because the boys trust in him at this moment, but because he explores the dangers of the island himself, rather than sending a delegation. Ralph shows time and again that he leads by example, as he will also be one of the main participants in building the shelters and organizing the camp.

From Chapter Five:

The time had come for the assembly and as he walked into the concealing splendors of the sunlight he went carefully over the points of his speech. There must be no mistake about this assembly, no chasing imaginary…

He lost himself in a maze of thoughts that were rendered vague by his lack of words to express them. Frowning, he tried again.

This meeting must not be fun, but business.

Ralph, thinking to himself before he meets with the boys to reprimand their lack of discipline around camp, considers the seriousness of his position and their situation. He is one of the few boys who understands the importance of these meetings, while everyone else now sees them as a joke. This is why Ralph is the leader the boys need, but unfortunately, starting from this chapter, he is not the one they choose to follow.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What three quotes from Ralph in Lord of the Flies show his good leadership?

Below are three quotes from Ralph that show his leadership capabilities in the novel, Lord of the Flies.

  • "My father's in the navy. He said there aren't any unknown islands left. He says the Queen has a big room filled with maps and all the islands in the world are drawn there. So, the Queen's got a picture of this island... And sooner or later a ship will put in here... So you see, sooner or later, we'll be rescued." (Chapter 2, p. 35)
  • "We've got to have special people for looking after the fire. Any day there may be a ship out there--... and if we have a signal going they'll come and take us off. And another thing. We ought to have more rules. Where the conch is, that's a meeting. The same up here as down there." (Chapter 2, p. 39)
  • "We've got to talk about this fear and decide there's nothing to it. I'm frightened myself sometimes; only, that's nonsense. Like bogies. Then, when we've decided, we can start again and be careful about things like the fire... And be happy." (Chapter 5, p. 74)
Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What three quotes from Ralph in Lord of the Flies show his good leadership?

Ralph emerges as a leader in the initial hours of the boys landing on the beach, and courage is a necessary personality trait among leaders. We see Ralph's courage in various places throughout the plot. For instance, consider the following passage:

The trouble was, if you were a chief you had to think, you had to be wise. And then the occasion slipped by so that you had to grab at a decision. This made you think; because thought was a valuable thing, that got results . . .
Only, decided Ralph as he faced the chief's seat, I can't think. Not like Piggy.

It takes courage to acknowledge personal shortcomings. Though elected as leader of the group, a position he struggles to hold on to, Ralph realizes that he isn't the quickest thinker of the group. He doesn't have the insight that Piggy does. He also sees that the group needs his leadership (as they will never accept Piggy as a leader) and courageously decides to keep insisting they respect him.

Ralph constantly tries to hold on to a sense of law and order, which puts him in direct conflict with Jack, such as in this scene in chapter 5:

"The rules!" shouted Ralph. "You're breaking the rules!"
"Who cares?"
Ralph summoned his wits.
"Because rules are the only thing we've got!"

Ralph doesn't have numbers on his side at this point. More and more of the boys are beginning to align themselves with the more savage side of human nature, which is reflected in Jack. Ralph knows that he has to stand his ground in their continuing slip into moral decay, and in this scene, he courageously faces off with Jack in a moral showdown. Rules are important in maintaining any semblance of civilized behavior.

Ralph courageously faces Jack and his supporters again after they steal Piggy's glasses:

"You pinched Piggy's specs," said Ralph, breathlessly. "You've got to give them back."
"Got to? Who says?"
"I say! You voted me for chief. Didn't you hear the conch? You played a dirty trick—we'd have given you fire if you'd asked for it—"
The blood was flowing in his cheeks and the bunged-up eye throbbed.
"You could have had fire whenever you wanted. But you didn't. You came sneaking up like a thief and stole Piggy's glasses!"

Ralph shows courage here on several fronts. First, he asserts himself as the true leader, once again, to Jack. Second, he calls Jack a thief, which is accurate, and he doesn't back down from Jack's physical reactions. He knows this will lead to a physical confrontation with his rival, but he pushes forward with the courage of his convictions; Jack is leading the boys down a destructive path, and Ralph sees it as his responsibility to try to save them from themselves. Lastly, he confronts Jack in front of everyone, basically risking it all (including his role as leader) to confront the injustice Jack is inflicting through his actions.

Ralph is certainly not perfect, also showing weakness at times and letting Jack's group suck him in to their moral decay through the murder of Simon. After all, he is still a boy who is developing into adulthood, with much time left to solidify a more steady sense of courage. Yet there are many places where he proves himself to be a courageous leader.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What three quotes from Ralph in Lord of the Flies show his good leadership?

Although Ralph is just an ordinary boy, he has "greatness thrust upon him" when the boys vote for him to be chief. He rises to the occasion and shows outstanding courage on several occasions. The first time he shows inner courage is when he faces down Jack and confronts him with his grave error when Jack has allowed the fire to go out just as a ship was passing. He refuses to give in to the euphoria of the hunters over having killed their first pig. He commands Jack to light the fire again, and then remains silent, requiring the boys to work around him:

"No one, not even Jack, would ask him to move and in the end they had to build the fire three yards away and in a place not really as convenient. So Ralph asserted his chieftainship and could not have chosen a better way if he had thought for days."

At one point, Ralph displays courage in honestly voicing his fear rather than using false bravado like Jack does. After Samneric see the "beast" in person, Jack sneers at Ralph when Ralph suggests wooden spears are not enough to slay such a formidable creature. "Frightened?" Jack asks. Ralph replies, "'Course I'm frightened. Who wouldn't be?"

Ralph and Jack take a party to go search for the beast. Jack gets distracted by the Castle Rock area that he later makes into his "wizard fort." Ralph insists they must continue their search: "I say we'll go on! ... We've got to make certain. We'll go now." He asserts authority over the rebellious boys again and leads them onward.

Although Ralph is very afraid to go up the mountain in the dark to find the beast, he keeps going. At one point, however, Roger and Jack pass by him when they get very near the dead paratrooper. Still, Ralph does show courage; despite being so afraid that his teeth are chattering, he "bound himself together with his will, fused his fear and loathing into a hatred and stood up. He took two leaden steps forward." 

In chapter 11 when Piggy wants Ralph to help him get his glasses back, Ralph agrees, even though he knows Jack has become dangerous. When Samneric say they should paint themselves because Jack and his tribe will be painted, Ralph insists, "Well, we won't be painted ... because we aren't savages." He has the courage to face Jack in their true condition. Ralph confronts Jack courageously, clearly calling him out on his wrong behavior: "You played a dirty trick--we'd have given you fire if you'd asked for it. ... You came sneaking up like a thief and stole Piggy's glasses!"

Despite Ralph's courage during this confrontation, he ends up running for his life after Piggy's murder. He has the courage to sneak up to Samneric and ask them what Jack intends to do, and when he learns that Jack intends to kill him, he uses good sense in hiding and fleeing from the boys.

Although Ralph does not always display perfect bravery, overall he displays a great deal of courage in the novel.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What three quotes from Ralph in Lord of the Flies show his good leadership?

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, is about a group of British school boys stranded on a deserted island. Without adults, the boys must fend for themselves. They live without adults to provide for them or the structure of a civilized society to guide and curb their actions. On the first page of chapter 1 (page 6), the reader is introduced to Ralph, one of the main characters in the book.

He is described as “The boy with fair hair.” He also seems fairly nimble and perhaps athletic, as on the same page the reader learns that he “lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon.” Moreover, he is also the first boy to swim and he seems agile. “Ralph did a surface dive and swam under water with his eyes open” (page 15).

Ralph also takes the initiative. Piggy asks him about the island and he replies, “I climbed a rock… and I think this is an island” (page 16). While he is still a boy at the beginning of the novel, giggling when Piggy tells him that Piggy is his nickname, he is also the most level-headed of the boys and has natural leadership abilities. The boys elect Ralph as their leader. Ralph respects order and the rules.

When Jack lets the fire go out due to his negligence, Ralph is furious and says (page 97):

“You let the fire go out…”

Ralph spoke again, hoarsely. He had not moved. “You let the fire go out….”

...

“The rules!” shouted Ralph. “You’re breaking the rules!”

“Who cares?”

Ralph summoned his wits. “Because the rules are the only thing we’ve got!”

Unlike the more passionate Jack, Ralph realizes how important it is that they outline a set of rules and stick to them. This is how he attempts to create a civilization in their stranded island setting. That is why he tells Jack that “the rules are the only thing we’ve got!”

Ralph also realizes that it is important that they stay together and take care of one another. Along with Piggy, he uses the conch to call the boys together and tells the boys, “We’re having a meeting. Come and join in” (page 25).

At the very end of the novel, Ralph has undergone a loss of innocence. Golding writes (page 290):

And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What three quotes from Ralph in Lord of the Flies show his good leadership?

Introduced in Chapter One as the "fair boy" with "a golden body," Ralph is described as twelve years old, but having

lost the prominent tummy of chilhood and not yet old enough for adolescence to have made him awkward....There was a mildness about his mouth and eyes that proclaimed no devil.

When Ralph learns that there are no adults on the island, he "laughs delightedly."

In this first chapter, too, there is mention of Ralph pushing back his fair hair.  However, as the boys remain on the island, their hair, of course, grows long.  Later in the narrative, Ralph becomes irritated with his long hair, the symbol of the boys' spiritual degeneration. Chapter Four establishes Ralph's personality as Jack and Ralph argue about the signal fire having gone out,

Ralph flung back his hair.  One arm pointed at the empty horizon.  His voice was loud and savage, and struck them into silence.

"There was a ship.  Out there.  You said you'd keep the fire going and you let it out!"  He took a step toward Jack,who turned and faced him.

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.

Jack apologizes, but Ralph makes no response.  He has"asserted his chieftainship...." Ralph goes to Piggy and takes his glasses to start the fire.

“Not even Ralph knew how a link between him and Jack had been snapped and fastened elsewhere.” 

While Ralph is the leader, there are yet many failings in him.   There is often a "shutter" that falls on Ralph and he cannot think of the correct words with which to lead the boys.         :

The trouble was, if you were a chief you had to think, you had to be wise.  And then the occasion slipped by so that you had to grab at a decision. This made you think; because thought was a valuable thing, that got results....

Once more that evening Ralph had to adjust his values.  Piggy could think....Ralph was a specialist in thought now, and could recognize thought in another.

But, later, "The hair was creeping into his eyes again" and Ralph confronts his darker self as he hunts and "sunned himself in their new respect and felt that hunting was good after all." (Ch.7) Still, he misses home and civilization as he notices the lowering sun:

"Early evening.  After tea-time, at any rate."

By now, Ralph had no self-consciousness in public thinking but would treat the day's decisions as though he were playing chess.  The only trouble was that he would never be a very good chess player....

Ralph sighed, sensing the rising antagonism, understanding that this was how Jack felt as soon as he ceased to lead.

"Why do you hate me?" (Ch. 7)

Finally, Ralph, too, has descended into savagery as he becomes "half-hidden by hair and smut." (Ch. 8)

Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society.

And, yet, as Ralph always knows what has truly happened to Simon. He longs for civilization:

His mind skated to a consideration of a tamed town where savagery could not set foot. 

As Golding shows the battle between civilization (respect for rules and order) and savagery (lawlessness and brute force) through the conflicts between Ralph and Jack, with the final conflict is that of Ralph as he seeks to evade the hunters who try to kill him:

He... became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet...

Once rescued, Ralph "wept for the end of innocence."(12)

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are two quotes from Ralph that show the type of person he is in Lord of the Flies?

One quote shows Ralph's idealism while on the island. He firmly believes in the essential goodness of the boys, even after Simon and Piggy die. He also attempts to make life on the island reflect what he remembers of the society from which they came. At one point he dreams of a cottage in which his family once lived, where wild ponies would visit at their walls. He remembers:

When you went to bed there was a bowl of cornflakes with sugar and cream. And the books-they stood on the shelf by the bed, leaning together with always two or three laid flat on top because he had not bothered to put them back properly...Everything was all right; everything was good-humored and friendly.

These recollections of the peaceful, contented life he had lived before the island are what he bases his leadership on. He tries to re-create that sense of peace with the boys, but Jack and his hunters destroy that with violence and cruelty.

Ralph is also concerned with maintaining some kind of hygiene and cleanliness while on the island, connected to his idea of maintaining order and some semblance of society. While examining his ragged fingernails and dirty clothes, Ralph realizes that the boys on this island are moving further away from rationality, and into the realm of savagery and chaos. As he looks at the other boys, he observes

Not one of them was an obvious subject for a shower, and yet—hair, much too long, tangled here and there, knotted round a dead leaf or a twig; faces cleaned fairly well by the process of eating and sweating but marked in less accessible angles with a kind of shadow; clothes, worn away, stiff like his own with sweat, put on, not for decorum or comfort but out of custom; the skin of the body, scurfy with brine—

He discovered with a little fall of the heart that these were the conditions he took as normal now and that he did not mind.

This revelation is a reflection of the boys’ increasing loss of identity. The longer they remain on the island, the farther away from their civilized selves they move. Ralph is the only one that longs for a bath, haircut, and manicure. Thus he is the only one who notices this descent into an almost animal-like state.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What quotes in Lord of the Flies describe Ralph's lack of leadership?

Despite Ralph's best intentions and his maturity and integrity, his claim to being the leader of the island is challenged by Jack and his crew of boy-hunters. Here are a few quotes that support this notion and illustrate Ralph's lack of leadership skill.

Jack started to protest, but the clamor changed from the general wish for a chief to an election by acclaim of Ralph himself. None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack (chapter 1).

In chapter 1, the narrator simply states that Jack possesses a natural flair for leadership that Ralph lacks. Ralph has asserted himself as leader, and though he does have important qualities that enable him to be a reliable chief, the fact remains that "the most obvious leader was Jack."

Later, in chapter 2, Ralph attempts to lead a meeting of the boys, but the narrator points out to the reader that being in a position of leadership does not come naturally to Ralph. He finds the experience destabilizing and uncomfortable, and he lacks confidence in his own ability to lead. According to the quotes below, Ralph is easily distracted and loses focus when he attempts to lead, and surely his uncertainty is observable by the others, which compromises his leadership role even more.

Ralph lifted the cream and pink shell to his knees and a sudden breeze scattered light over the platform. He was uncertain whether to stand up or remain sitting (chapter 2).

The passionate noise of agreement from the assembly hit him like a wave and he lost his thread (chapter 2).

In chapter 4, the boys in charge of the fire abandon their post at the wrong time. A ship passes by the island just as the smoke from the fire disappears, which means that an opportunity to be discovered and rescued has passed. Ralph's frustration with Jack, who has led the other boys away on a hunting mission, is intense, and at first, Jack is too ashamed of himself to do anything but avoid eye contact; eventually, however, he apologizes in front of everyone witnessing the confrontation:

The buzz from the hunters was one of admiration at this handsome behavior. Clearly they were of the opinion that Jack had done the decent thing, had put himself in the right by his generous apology and Ralph, obscurely, in the wrong (chapter 4).

Thanks to Jack's natural leadership skill, his apology is given more weight than perhaps it deserves. Ralph's tendency to get flustered interferes with the gravity of this situation, distracting the other boys from the fact of Jack's irresponsibility.

The possession of leadership skills does not guarantee that the leader will lead others to positive action; in fact, the opposite holds true in The Lord of the Flies. Though Ralph is better able to hold on to his civilized nature than Jack, the boys are drawn to Jack's character, and they follow him when they descend into the darkness of their own primal desires.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What illustrates Ralph as a bad leader in Lord of the Flies?

Ralph is, for the most part, a good person; however, Ralph is not a good leader. Ralph is voted to be chief because he looks the part, and he's the guy that blew the conch. Personally, those aren't qualities I look for in a leader, but Ralph's voted chief by a bunch of teenagers. He starts off as leader quite well, too. He delegates certain people and groups to have specific jobs. Ralph then leads by example by offering to do various jobs himself, too. He's not above work and everybody else; however, he still isn't a good leader.

The major piece of evidence is that leaders get people to follow them and support them, and Ralph is simply incapable of keeping control of the group and keeping their confidence. He starts with as much leadership "capital" as he can get, and he loses that capital day by day. If Ralph was actually a good leader, then he never would have lost as much control as he did. His leadership style is highly dependent on civilization existing and having adults around to make sure that the other boys follow and adhere to Ralph's democratic style of leading. Unfortunately, Ralph shows zero propensity to adapt to the no-adult environment. He keeps trying to do things his way even while realizing it's not working. Good leaders adapt to changing scenarios, and Ralph can't do that.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What illustrates Ralph as a bad leader in Lord of the Flies?

Overall, Ralph is a very good person and a natural leader. However, he is not flawless. Although he generally stands up for Piggy, he does laugh at him. Ralph chants the name "Piggy" at the very beginning of the novel, showing his childishness and thoughtlessness early on. As the novel goes on, Ralph tries to be more mature, more of a responsible leader. But initially, he mocks Piggy. When Jack calls him Fatty, Ralph corrects him, saying his name is Piggy. He apologizes and rationalizes "Better Piggy than Fatty." 

Ralph is not really a bad leader. In fact, he's a natural. But he is inexperienced and has the disadvantage of being a child trying to lead other children. One could argue that since he loses most of the boys to Jack's camp, he is the inferior leader. However, this has more to do with the boys' regression from civilized people to a savage mob. Following this regression, they are more interested in playing, hunting, and eating meat than they are with being rescued. 

Ralph and Piggy are the most logical, most responsible (Simon, the most innocent). However, Ralph does have the animal instinct in him as well. He and Piggy, perhaps out of fear and conformity, take part in the mob that kills Simon on the beach at the end of Chapter 9. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Which quotes from Lord of the Flies best demonstrate Ralph's leadership abilities?

There's another quotation which demonstrates Ralph's desire for order and stability on the island:

Jack’s in charge of the choir. They can be—what do you want them to be?

Ralph makes this decision after he's been democratically elected as leader of the boys. He knows that Jack's deeply unhappy at being rejected and that this unhappiness, if allowed to simmer, could well lead to trouble later on. So Ralph makes what he thinks is the wise decision to allow Jack to stay in charge of the boys in the choir.

On the face of it, this seems like a sensible gesture. But unfortunately, it shows how Ralph's desire for stability and order can often override basic common sense. For there's no way in a million years that Jack will ever be satisfied with being in charge of the choir. He wants absolute power over all the other boys and will do whatever it takes to get it and, having got it, hang onto it.

So long as Jack's around, he's going to present a danger to any kind of civilization on the island. And by allowing him to stay in control of the choir, by giving him his own gang, if you like, Ralph is inadvertently making a rod for his own back, giving Jack the tools with which to challenge his democratic power and establish in its stead a brutal dictatorship.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Which quotes from Lord of the Flies best demonstrate Ralph's leadership abilities?

By chapter 2, Ralph is establishing himself as a leader when some members of the group become worried about the "beastie." First, Ralph assures the group that "we shall be rescued," and this immediately lifts the spirits of the group with the "weight of Ralph's new authority." He goes on to explain to them:

My father's in the Navy. He said there aren't any unknown islands left. He says the Queen has a big room full of maps and all the islands in the world are drawn there ... And sooner or later a ship will put in here ... So you see, sooner or later, we shall be rescued.

Ralph speaks with authority, and the group listens. With the help of a couple of supportive and fairly wise (for their ages) voices, he begins to develop plans to sustain the group on the island, prioritizing shelter and fire:

We can help them to find us. If a ship comes near the island they may not notice us. So we must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire.

This immediately motivates the boys, and quickly "half the boys were on their feet." This quote both shows that Ralph can effectively lead the group into action and that he understands the ultimate priority: getting rescued. He is not lost in the fantasies of make-believe that some of the boys become focused on.

Later, Ralph and Jack go with some of the older boys to try to find the beast. While out exploring, some of Jack's group gets off task with exploring a rocky cliff and even suggest moving camp to this area. It is Ralph's voice of reason that once again leads the group back to an organized and sensible plan:

There's no food here ... and no shelter. Not much fresh water. I say we'll go on! We've got to make certain.

Ralph both stays focused on the primary needs of the group without becoming distracted by Jack's primal needs for lawlessness and remains focused on the most important goals of the moment—this time, to determine where the beast is and what exactly they are up against.

In many situations (though not all), Ralph proves his ability to lead the group with organization and with clear thinking.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Which quotes from Lord of the Flies best demonstrate Ralph's leadership abilities?

A great example of Ralph taking on tough situations as a leader is when the boys go in search of the beast, venturing into parts of the island they hadn't been to before. Ralph intrinsically knows that as leader he must physically take the lead in the hunting party, despite his feelings of great trepidation.

"His mouth was tight and pale. He put back his hair very slowly.....He forced his feet to move until they carried him out on to the neck of the land" (p. 130).

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Which quotes from Lord of the Flies best demonstrate Ralph's leadership abilities?

Ralph has charisma and leadership qualities, but he bemoans that he cannot think as well as Piggy.  Nevertheless, he compensates for his thinking ability by asserting himself when Jack and the hunters act on their own:

"I'm chief," said Ralph, "because you chose me.  And we were going to keep the fire going.  Now you run after food--" (Chapter 9)

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Which quotes from Lord of the Flies best demonstrate Ralph's leadership abilities?

The initial situation is tough. When Piggy and Ralph recognize the situation they are in on the island, Piggy suggests that they call a meeting where Ralph quickly demonstrates his ability to both vocalize and assert command. His authority is also orderly as he suggests the vote which elects him to be chief. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Which quotes from Lord of the Flies best demonstrate Ralph's leadership abilities?

Ralph does try and bring order to chaos on the island. His primary ojective is rescue, so the boys can reconnect to ciivilization. In the chapter two, "Fire on the Mountain," Ralph lays down rules for the boys about keeping rules, getting rescued, and using the conch.

"[I]f we have a signal going, they'll come and take us off. And another thing. we ought to have more rules. Where the conch is, that's a meeting. The same up here as down here" (42).

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Which quotes from Lord of the Flies best demonstrate Ralph's leadership abilities?

When Jack and his choir march down the beach to join the group, it is evident that Jack has some leadership experience and Golding even notes that he is the most likely choice. But once Ralph is elected, he sees the disappointment in Jack's face and immediately cedes control of the "hunters" to him. Golding writes that Jack "started up, then changed his mind and sat down again while the air rang. Ralph looked at him, eager to offer something." 

And Ralph is often looking to keep Jack happy by sharing power with him, long after Jack has realized and demonstrated his own desire to have total control. When they go to explore the castle rock to see if the beast is there, Ralph again cedes some control to Jack despite knowing (at least partially) that it isn't a good idea. He says "Jack. The beast might be on the other side. You can lead again. You’ve been.”

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What leadership qualities does Ralph display in Lord of the Flies?

Although Ralph stumbles into leadership rather than seeking it, he draws upon his strengths as chief. Qualities that serve him well as leader are that he is popular, principled, kind, hardworking, and responsible. 

Ralph's good looks and the fact that he blew the conch are the factors that influence most of the boys to vote for him as chief initially. Piggy is more intelligent, and Jack has more natural leadership abilities, but Ralph's popularity installs him as chief.

Once the boys choose him, he carries out his role ethically. He takes seriously the fact that the welfare of the boys is his top concern and doesn't act out of selfishness. He seeks to follow the morals that British civilization has instilled in him. Therefore he stands up for Piggy against Jack's violence, and he labels the mob's action against Simon as murder. 

Ralph's kindness earns him some loyalty; under better circumstances it might have had better results. Unfortunately, given Jack's jealousy and lust for power, Ralph's kindness ends up emboldening his enemies. Ralph feels compassion for Jack at having been spurned in the vote for chief, so he immediately offers Jack a major leadership role to console him. Ralph's desire to allow the boys freedom of expression leads to the talk of beasts at the evening meeting. What started as kindness on Ralph's part deteriorates, allowing Jack to gain strength as he plays on the boys' fear.

Ralph is a leader who is willing to get his hands dirty. He works hard to build shelters, even when all the boys except Simon (and Piggy) run off to play rather than help. 

Finally, Ralph is responsible in that he attempts to keep the most important goal--that of rescue--prioritized. At times he begins to lose sight of why they need the fire, but next to Piggy, he is the one boy most able to keep their highest purpose top of mind. 

Although Ralph doesn't seek leadership, when it is thrust upon him, he draws on his strengths of popularity, morals, kindness, willingness to work, and responsibility. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What leadership qualities does Ralph display in Lord of the Flies?

From the beginning of the novel and throughout, we note that the kids like Ralph.  He is kind, logical, confident, and has a good sense of justice.  He also is a planner.  He is the one who assigns jobs for the kids in order to assure their survival until they are rescued.  He is smart enough to ally himself with Piggy, who is also logical and intelligent.  They are the thinkers of the island, and the kids are ready and willing to put their fate into Ralph and Piggy's hands...all, that is, except Jack.

Ralph is also elected by the group to be the leader.  Probably something in his face, or his mannerisms.  He is a good looking boy, tall, and carries himself well.  Most leaders have these qualities, and humans look for these qualities in their leaders more often than they look for shorter, unappealing people to take care of things.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What leadership qualities does Ralph display in Lord of the Flies?

Ralph decides to build shelters so the boys have civilization on the island. 

Ralph does the best he can to create order on the island.  He wants to be a good leader.  He was elected because he blew the conch, and that created a sort of mystique the other boys respected.  He was a connection to the adult world, drawing them together.  However, he was never really able to get much done.  His goals were to get a signal fire going and tended and shelters built.  Neither goal was well-accomplished. 

Ralph wants to recreate civilization.  He wants rules and order.  He is worried about bad weather, and what will happen to the boys then.  He decides that they need to build some shelters off the beach. 

Ralph is also concerned because so many of the little kids get afraid at night.  He thinks the shelters will make them feel safe, reminding them of the comforts of home and making them feel protected from the beastie. Building something also gives them an occupation and keeps them busy.

Building the shelters is a difficult task.  Ralph cannot get the boys to follow directions and accomplish any goal.  The younger children do not work, and the older ones don’t listen.  Nothing gets done.

“They’re hopeless. The older ones aren’t much better. D’you see? All day I’ve been working with Simon. No one else. They’re off bathing, or eating, or playing.” (Ch. 3) 

Ralph’s failure to get the shelters built is symbolic of his failure at leadership in general.  Ralph is not able to get the children motivated.  He can’t make them listen. It is symptomatic of a larger problem.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What leadership qualities does Ralph display in Lord of the Flies?

One quality that makes Ralph a good leader is that he (mostly) seems to care about the kids in his care. By the beginning of chapter 2, he has explored the island and is able to begin formulating plans for survival. He realizes that there are no other people and that he is going to have to establish some sense of order so that the boys can both be rescued and survive until they do. Thus, it is Ralph who makes sound decisions for the group, such as deciding they need a signal fire. It is Ralph who looks around at the feces everywhere and tells the boys that they cannot use the entire island as an open restroom. It is Ralph who understands the importance of shelter and continually works to build crude structures for the group. Ralph has the survival of the group in the forefront of his decisions and actions.

He also shows bravery, which is necessary in good leaders. When Jack lets the signal fire go out and they miss the opportunity to be spotted by a passing ship, Ralph does not shrink from confronting him. Ralph shows courage when hunting for the beast in the jungle. He doesn't allow Jack and his hunters to tackle the job alone; he insists on going himself.

Ralph also develops a sense of wanting to keep the group together. He resists Jack's efforts to break apart the group and rallies to keep the littluns safe and close by. Ralph sees value in the complete group, even when he notices that more and more of the boys trickle to Jack's camp.

Ralph is far from a perfect leader, especially in the beginning of the book. But he grows with experience, learning from mistakes along the way, which is another quality of good leaders.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are Ralph's motivations as a leader in Lord of the Flies?

Remember that Ralph basically has leadership thrust upon him.  From that point on, he focuses on two things: rescue and survival.  Later in the novel, he pushes to keep leadership because he recognizes that Jack's efforts will not get them saved.  He wishes to retain his status as chief in order to get them back home.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Ralph assert his leadership in "Lord of the Flies"?

This is a reference to a specific moment in Chapter 4, where Ralph is said to have inadvertently "asserted his chieftainship" better through casual passive aggression than if he had thought about an alternative plan for days.

The conflict over which Ralph needs to assert himself is the fact that the hunters allowed the signal fire to go out, inadvertently robbing the boys of a chance to be noticed by a passing ship. Jack offers all manner of excuses, insisting that every hunter was needed for the pig hunt, and failing to truly realize or appreciate the fact that the immediate gratification provided by the pig is irrelevant when compared to the need for getting off the island. Jack then "formally" apologizes, which garners him support from the hunters, but which Ralph recognizes as a thinly-veiled attempt at seizing power from Ralph.

Ralph needs to make the hunters' failure plain to them, but he can't waste any more words, or physically punish them. Instead, he orders that the fire be rebuilt, but he stands in the place where the old one was, refusing to move. This effectively forces the hunters to be inconvenienced by building the fire in a new, slightly worse place, while retaining the "grave" of the first fire as a reminder of their error. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Ralph assert his leadership in "Lord of the Flies"?

The first thing Ralph does upon becoming chief is to grant shared power to Jack. Ralph is perceptive enough to notice Jack's mortification at being voted down, so he is "eager to offer something." He concedes that the choir still belongs to Jack and lets Jack choose what they are to be. Ralph is being nice here, but the decision comes back to haunt him when Jack's role as hunter becomes most valued by the boys. 

The next thing he does is choose two to help him explore. He selects Jack and Simon while he spurns Piggy. He then delegates the cataloging of the boys to Piggy.

After the exploration he gives a pep talk to the boys about rescue that is well received, but at the mention of building a signal fire, he loses control of the boys, resulting in the first deadly fire on the mountain. Thereafter Ralph shows himself to be a participatory leader; he pitches in building huts. However, once again he is unable to control the boys, and most of them run off to play, leaving only Ralph and Simon to continue struggling with the shelters.

Ralph's most effective display of leadership is when he learns the signal fire has gone out when the boys kill their first pig. He reprimands Jack, defends Piggy, and requires the boys to re-light the fire while he stands still and silent, observing their efforts. Although he attains his immediate goal of having the fire lit, and a secondary goal of exerting his authority, this display widens the rift between him and Jack, setting up their ultimate conflict. After that Ralph is able to retain some loyalty by reminding the boys about rescue, but before long, he has lost all his followers except Piggy and Samneric. 

Although Ralph displays a compassionate heart and has good motives, wielding his chieftainship based on kindness, participation, and long-term goals turns out not to be very effective with the large majority of the boys.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Ralph assert his leadership in "Lord of the Flies"?

Ralph sees his authority being tied to making rules and keeping things in order. He is very pleased with the suggestion that the conch is a symbol of order. Ralph appreciates that the conch needs to be held in order for everyone to listen. Ralph is bent on making sure that the boys build shelters and maintain a fire and do things in an orderly in order to be to be rescued. He was elected, after all, and this means that he gets to be in charge.

The problem is, Ralph tries to assert this power by reasoning with the boys and pointing out the issues and appealing to their sense of reason and logic. It works for a time as long as the boys still remember civilization, the idea of rescue and the hope of return to civilization.  

But as Jack, his hunters and the savage lawlessness of his authority takes control, Ralph's method of asserting his power and control begins to lose its effectiveness. The boys get tired of meetings and complain about talking too much. In the end, the conch is destroyed at Piggy's death and Ralph's authority is gone for good.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Lord of the Flies, what were Ralph's leadership flaws?

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. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Lord of the Flies, what were Ralph's leadership flaws?

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.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Lord of the Flies, what three problems did Ralph have being a leader?

1. Ralph does not truly understand the evil and motives of Jack. Therefore, he placates Jack by allowing him to be the leader of the hunters, a position he uses to gain more and more power as the novel continues.

2. Ralph does not like the burdens of leadership. Several times he lashes out at Piggy and the others for not following his orders. Sometimes, he abdicates his leadership, especially when he allows Jack to go on the search for the beast and then allows Jack walk in front of him, indicating Jack is taking the leadership.

3. Ralph does nothing when Jack lets the fire go out. He should have relieved Jack of that responsibility and put someone else in charge. That would have shown the group he really was truly serious about the fire and their goal of getting off the island. Instead, he allows Jack to apologize and continue to lead the hunters.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Why does Ralph fail as a leader in Chapter 3 of Lord of the Flies?

While Ralph looks the part of a leader, he does not understand how to motivate the boys or organize them.

By Chapter Three of Lord of the Flies, Ralph has called several meetings, at which the need for the rescue fire and the necessity of building shelters is stressed. These needs Ralph communicates to the others; however, he does not know how to motivate the boys, so they abandon the construction of shelters because it is frustrating work; often the shelter collapses during its construction. Most of the boys go on hunting expeditions instead of struggling with the construction of a shelter because there is excitement in hunting as well as immediate gratification if one of the pigs is killed. The killing appeals to the boys' baser natures, and they succeed in procuring food as well.

When Ralph argues with Jack, he does not convince Jack of the exigency of keeping a rescue fire burning and of constructing shelters:

"I was talking about about smoke! Don't you want to be rescued? All you can talk about is pig, pig, pig!"

"But we want meat!" Jack retorts.
"And I work all day with nothing but Simon and you come back and don't even notice the huts!"
"I was working, too--" Jack claims.
"But you like it! ... You want to hunt! While I--"

Since their hunger and desire for meat and the thrill of the hunt are priorities for the boys, shelter-building and keeping a fire going take a back seat.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Why does Ralph fail as a leader in Chapter 3 of Lord of the Flies?

It is hard to know whether you want to know what shows that he has failed or what causes him to fail.

As far as what shows that he has failed, we can see that he has failed because none of the kids except Simon and Piggy are really willing to keep on helping him build the huts.  The rest of them do not stay focused, and he is the one who ought to be keeping them that way (if he is a leader).

As far as why why he has failed, I think the only thing we can really say is that he is a bit whiny and not very positive.  When he talks to Jack he seems like he is complaining.  He ends up talking about how he doesn't actually like working.  This attitude would not be very inspiring, I think.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on