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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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How does Golding contrast leadership styles of Jack, Ralph, and Piggy in Lord of the Flies chapters 1-4?

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In the exploration of humanity, different leadership styles are represented on the island.  Ralph is the reluctant leader.  He leads because it makes him important, not because he wants to guide others.  Piggy has good ideas, but he is annoying and on one listens to him.  Jack is forceful and sometimes even cruel.  The three have nothing in common—except that none of them are good leaders.

Ralph becomes leader because he is the one who has the conch.  Ralph sees the shell, but Piggy is the one who tells him it is valuable and informs him that he can blow into it.  When Ralph blows, all of the boys come.  Thus the shell seems to anoint him with some special powers.  When Ralph is elected, it seems like a mistake from the start.

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)

Yet Ralph has the shell, and a “certain stillness” to set him apart.  He is handsome, and large, but it is the conch that gives him power.

Jack is the leader of the choir, so he is that one who wants to be leader of the boys.  He bosses the choir around and takes control of the hunters, but his leadership style is harsh.  To him, leadership means doing whatever you want to people.

“We’ll have rules!” he cried excitedly. “Lots of rules! Then when anyone breaks ’em–” (ch 2)

He proves to be an “irresponsible authority,” fighting Piggy, and beating the little boys even when they don’t seem to have done anything wrong.  As the book goes on, he gets more and more brutal and tyrannical.

Even though Piggy seems to be the most intelligent, and he is the one with the glasses, the children do not respect him.  Ralph calls him Piggy, even though he asks him not to.  We never do learn his real name.  Piggy tries to keep everyone on the right path, but no one ever listens to him.

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