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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Which chapter and pages demonstrate Ralph's leadership skills in Lord of the Flies?

Quick answer:

Ralph shows leadership skills early in the novel by calming the fears of the younger boys, in his willingness to engage in conflict for the greater good of the group, and through his insight into the true focus of survival.

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Note: Page numbers vary among editions, so I will include the chapter numbers for reference.

In the first chapter, Jack is noted to be the "most obvious leader," yet Ralph is elected to this position for a variety of reasons. He isn't the natural leader that Jack is and has...

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to consciously work toward maintaining a leadership position, which becomes an increasing struggle as the plot progresses.

In the first chapter, Ralph acknowledges that the boys both want to have fun and be rescued. He calms their fears by telling them that his father is in the navy, and he knows that there aren't any undiscovered islands left. Although the reader knows that this can't be true—the ocean is incredibly vast, after all—the idea that the Queen knows where this island is and will send a ship to rescue them calms the boys. In a real stroke of leadership, Ralph tells the group that in order to be rescued, they need a signal fire on top of the mountain.

In chapter 3, Ralph confronts Jack about the way he pulls his hunters away from the task of building shelters. Ralph reminds him that early on, everyone committed to working hard on construction until that task was finished. On this day, he and Simon were the only ones left working on shelters while the others play and hunt. Since Jack hasn't produced any meat for his efforts at this point, Ralph questions his abilities and use of time. This infuriates Jack, but proves that Ralph isn't afraid of a confrontation to address critical issues for the group.

In chapter 4, Ralph shows that he understands the priorities of survival better than Jack does. Jack's group allows the signal fire to go out just as a ship appears on the horizon. While Jack defends the group's need for meat taking top priority, Ralph realizes that surviving on the island isn't the primary goal—getting off the island should be the focus.

Ralph and Jack continue to engage in conflict as the plot intensifies, and Ralph proves incapable of harnessing Jack's energy. While Ralph isn't a strong leader and does struggle with getting the group to follow his direction, he has moments where his leadership abilities shine.

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I am referencing a pdf version of the text. If you use a different text, please refer to the chapter numbers I've provided.

Ralph’s leadership qualities begin in the first chapter, and his natural charisma and confidence are noticed enough by the other boys that he’s voted into the newly-formed office of “chief” (17). Ralph quickly realizes he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and while he seems a leader in the first few chapters, his ability to lead the boys deteriorates along with their patience for the rules of civilization. His first effort to lead comes in his attempts to gather all the young boys together by blowing on the conch shell (13). He delegates tasks to other boys, like instructing Piggy to play secretary and take the names of the boys in the group (18). He explores the island with Jack and Simon in the first chapter to get the lay of the land, and instructs the boys to construct the signal fire in the second chapter (29).

This is a wonderful start to Ralph’s administration, but by Chapter Five, we can see that his efficacy as a leader is severely diminished. Mirroring his efforts in the first chapter, he calls an assembly and finds that he spends most of his time reprimanding the boys for failing to take their survival seriously, for making camp unsanitary, and for refusing to help with the construction of shelters. Ralph is undermined by Jack and fails to hold onto his role as chief, losing his footing more and more as the novel goes on and the boys become more wild.

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Ralph showcases leadership skills right from the beginning. In chapter one, he sets about exploring the dense jungle on the island upon which the children find themselves marooned. Later in chapter one, the majority of the boys vote Ralph to be their leader.

In chapter two, Ralph lays down rules for order in terms of communication, stating that a boy can only talk in meetings if he is holding the conch shell. He also provides reassurance, as a good leader would, telling the boys that they will be rescued, as the British government has mapped out every island in the world.

Another example of Ralph's leadership abilities is shown in chapter five, when he brings the boys together to discuss possible solutions for the issues facing them, such as shelter, sanitation, and the need to keep the fire going.

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There are several places where Ralph demonstrates his leadership skills throughout the text. A few of them are listed below.

In chapter 1, Ralph is the first one to decide that the boys should hold a meeting. He takes the conch from Piggy and learns how to blow it, saying, "We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting" (Golding, 10). When he is elected leader at the same meeting, the text says that the boys couldn't quite describe what made them pick him, 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" (Golding, 15). Right after being elected, Ralph immediately comes up with a plan. He tells the others, "we've got to decide if this is an island. Everybody must stay round here and wait and not go away. Three of us . . . will go on an expedition and find out" (Golding, 16).

Coming back from the expedition, Ralph is the one who summarizes what happened for the other boys, makes the rules, and lays out problems. In chapter 2, he tells everyone, "we can't have everybody talking at once. We'll have to have 'Hands up' like at school" (Golding, 25). By chapter 2, most of the boys seem to have completely accepted Ralph as the leader. Ralph makes an announcement, and the text says, "the simple statement, unbacked by any proof but the weight of Ralph's new authority, brought light and happiness" (Golding, 29) and "they liked and now respected him" (Golding, 29). Ralph is also the one who decides that they must light a signal fire so that they can be rescued (Golding, 30).

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Where in the book is Ralph shown being a good leader?

Because page numbers can vary according to the edition of Lord of the Fliesa person is reading, here is an answer with chapter references.

In chapter one, "The Sound of the Shell," Ralph demonstrates that he can be diplomatic and inclusive when the boys vote to have him become the chief. Ralph recognizes that Jack feels rejected, so he quickly offers to appoint Jack to leadership over the choir, who will become the hunters.

In chapter two, "Fire on the Mountain," Ralph establishes some ground rules, beginning with the role of the conch in meetings. The person who holds the conch will be empowered to speak, and the others must quietly listen. The rule enables an organized method of communicating information and opening dialogues. In the same chapter, Ralph is able to raise morale by telling the boys that the island is mapped and that there will eventually be a ship passing that will rescue them. The narrator says that when the others heard Ralph's assurance, "they liked and now respected him."

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