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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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

Quick answer:

One quote from Lord of the Flies that shows that Ralph is a good leader is when he says,

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

In this quote, Ralph acknowledges the group's dire situation. He is direct and forthright, making sure the boys understand that they must rely on themselves in order to survive. He immediately begins dividing the large group into smaller, task-focused groups.

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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.

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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.

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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)
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What are some quotations about Ralph being courageous in Lord of the Flies?

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.

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What are some quotations about Ralph being courageous in Lord of the Flies?

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.

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What are quotes from Lord of The Flies that describe Ralph's appearance and personality?

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.

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What are quotes from Lord of The Flies that describe Ralph's appearance and personality?

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)

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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.

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