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 does Ralph represent in Lord of the Flies?

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Ralph becomes disenchanted with his role as the boys' leader and gives into his primitive nature like the other boys.

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In the novel, Ralph's character symbolically represents civilization, democracy, and order. Ralph is originally chosen to be the leader of the group and attempts to establish a civil society on the uninhabited island. Unlike Jack, Ralph is a proponent of civilization and creates several rules in an attempt to establish a structured, comfortable society. Ralph creates rules regarding the conch in order to organize assemblies and also establishes priorities regarding the signal fire, constructing huts, and designating locations to relieve oneself. Ralph also opposes Jack and defends the vulnerable boys like Piggy and the littluns.

Despite Ralph's benevolence and positive intentions, he experiences lapses in civility, which reveal his inherent primitive nature. Although Ralph is flawed like the rest of humanity, he is portrayed as a relatively selfless, compassionate leader, who is a proponent of civilization and wishes to establish a structured, comfortable community on the island.

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In Lord of the Flies, Ralph is closely linked to the conch throughout the novel.  Both the boy and the shell come to represent law and order.  Ralph is originally elected chief, because of his control of the conch which sets Ralph apart from the other boys.  Later, Ralph uses the conch to establish order in the meeting.  He holds it up and dictates that the boys will use it like "hands-up" at school to take turns when speaking.  Ralph establishes other rules for the benefit of the boys like keeping fresh water available, using the bathroom away from the fruit trees, building huts, and keeping the signal fire lit.  Ralph's main objective is rescue and a return to civilization.  As the other boys descend into savagery, Ralph struggles to remain true to himself and fights to keep the rescue signal lit up until the very end.  

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What is Ralph's personality in Lord of the Flies?

Ralph is depicted as a handsome, athletic adolescent, who is elected to be the leader of the boys on the uninhabited tropical island. Ralph is a rather conservative boy and is a proponent of civilization. He is also a charismatic, sympathetic individual, who assumes the leadership role and does his best to cultivate a civil society. Despite his efforts, the boys gradually descend into savagery and choose to follow Jack. Ralph does his best to challenge Jack and continually argues with him when he neglects to follow the agreed-upon tasks, interrupts assemblies, and threatens the other boys. Ralph courageously defends Piggy and the littluns but struggles with his confidence as conditions on the island rapidly deteriorate. Despite his failure to establish a civil society, Ralph bravely challenges Jack and demonstrates his natural leadership skills by accepting responsibility and protecting defenseless boys like Piggy. Overall, Ralph is a reliable, hard-working boy, who possesses natural leadership skills and courageously faces challenges head-on. He does not back down to Jack and reveals his determination to stay alive by avoiding Jack's band of savages toward the end of the novel.

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What is Ralph's personality in Lord of the Flies?

It's probably also important to note that Ralph didn't necessarily want his leadership role.  He was given it simply by being the one to blow the conch in the first place.  There are instances throughout the early part of the novel that suggest Ralph would much rather be one of the boys out playing instead of trying to play the part of the responsible person.

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What is Ralph's personality in Lord of the Flies?

Ralph is charismatic and a natural leader. He is empathetic and observant and a problem-solver. For example, he tells the boys, "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." Ralph tries to assess problems intelligently and not emotionally, asking for example, "What was the sensible thing to do? " His friendliness and logic make him a natural choice to assume a leadership role.

For more on Ralph and other character's in Golding's novel, please visit the link below.

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How does Ralph change in Lord of the Flies?

At the beginning of the story, Ralph is a composed, optimistic leader, who has faith that the boys can create a civilized society on the island before they are eventually rescued. Ralph trusts that the boys will follow his directives and does not initially have any concerns about being elected chief. With Piggy's help, Ralph makes a list of priorities and tries his best to organize the group of boys. During assemblies, Ralph gives the boys instructions, creates several rules, and allows Jack to be in charge of the hunters.

As the novel progresses, Ralph notices that the boys have gradually begun dismissing his directives and neglecting their agreed-upon duties. He also becomes aware of Jack's jealousy and antagonistic nature. After the signal fire goes out and the boys miss a rare opportunity to be rescued, Ralph becomes frustrated, angry, and stressed out. Samneric then claim to have witnessed the beast at the top of the mountain, and hysteria quickly spreads throughout the group.

As Jack's popularity begins to rise and the boys continue to dismiss Ralph's directives, Ralph gradually loses confidence and becomes pessimistic. Ralph no longer desires to be chief and is fed up with Jack's aggressive, hostile personality. When the majority of boys join Jack's tribe, Ralph becomes depressed and begins to lose hope. Ralph then participates in Simon's murder and begins to fear Jack and his savages.

Following Piggy's brutal death, Ralph recognizes that he has become the savages' next target and is forced to run and hide through the forest to avoid Jack and his hunters. Ralph understands that he is Jack's primary enemy and desperately attempts to survive as the savages hunt him throughout the island. Fortunately, a British naval officer prevents the savages from capturing Ralph. In the final scene of the story, Ralph is overcome with emotion and bursts into tears when he realizes the wicked nature of humanity and recalls Piggy's death. By the end of the novel, Ralph has transformed into a jaded, traumatized boy who understands mankind's inherently evil nature.

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How does Ralph change in Lord of the Flies?

Ralph changes from an innocent boy to one who has seen too much.  He is a symbol of civilization, and by the end he has been lost.

When the story begins, Ralph is unsure of himself and playful.  Before long, he meets up with Piggy and since Piggy is a follower, Ralph becomes a de-facto leader.  When he finds and blows the conch, the boys cannot imagine another leader.  He seems like he should be the leader, because he is handsome and imbued with power from the conch. 

Ralph has a “stillness” that sets him apart from the others.  He is the finder and the blower of the conch, but has a quiet dignity that makes others follow him.

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. (ch 1)

Ralph acts very little-boyish at the beginning of the story.  He starts the name Piggy, and he finds the conch because it’s pretty.  He keeps the others from calling him Fatty, and he listens to Piggy’s ideas.  Ralph also has some good ideas, like voting for a leader and drawing a map.  He begins to show intelligence, wisdom, and leadership.

When Jack tries for a coup and breaks the boys into factions, what little civilization Ralph has managed to generate on the island is threatened.  Ralph does not play Jack’s game.  He refuses to create two warring tribes.  Yet Ralph cannot control Jack, and the damage he causes to the boys and the island.

Ralph is the first to be found by the rescuers.  His reaction is an example of how different he has become.  He is no longer the playful, self-assured boy.  Life has taken a  dark turn for him.

The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. (ch 9)

Ralph cries for a loss of innocence.  He cries because he knows that what happened to those boys on that island was a breakdown of civilization into savagery, and he couldn’t stop it.

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How does Ralph change in Lord of the Flies?

Over the course of Lord of the Flies, Ralph undergoes several changes.  Each of these changes is related to not only his personal behavioral patterns, but to his understanding of what he sees as the inherent nature of man.

 

Ralph begins the story as the elected leader of the boys.  Additionally, he serves as the main symbol of the social order and organization as they exist for the boys before they arrive on the island.  As the other boys on the island begin the novel relatively civilized, they respect his authority and leadership style.  This empowers him as a character and reinforces his fundamental beliefs in the basic goodness of man.

 

Over the course of the beginning and middle sections of the novel Ralph is forced to deal with the steady decline in the behavior of the other boys on the island and a subsequent decline in his own power and influence.  Not only is he forced to deal with a weakening powerbase, he is also confused as to why the other boys would choose to turn their backs on what he perceives to be just and moral behavior.  As a character, he remains hopeful, but is ultimately disheartened by what he begins to perceive as the inherently violent nature of all men. 

 

By the later stages of the book, Ralph begins to come to unhappy conclusion that the barbaric behavior he is witnessing in the other boys is actually something inherent to all men.  These feelings are further reinforced after his first wild boar hunt.  The previously calm, thoughtful and controlled Ralph gives in to his most base impulses and gleefully murders the boar in brutal fashion.  His transformation from a thoughtful reflective character to impulsive savage is completed when he takes part in the communal feast and subsequent killing of Simon.

 

The final stage for Ralph as a character is his period of despair and introspection following Simon’s murder.  Ralph is fully aware of the evil of his actions.  Not only is he forced to deal with the totality of his personal actions, but he is also forced, based on the actions of the group as a whole, to conclude that a propensity for violence and savagery exists in all men.         

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How does Ralph change in the novel Lord of the Flies?

At the beginning of the novel, Ralph is rather optimistic and openly accepts the position as the boys' leader. Ralph believes that the boys will be able to survive and has hope that they will be rescued. As the novel progresses, Ralph becomes disenchanted with his role as the boys' leader. His inexperience as a leader is evident as the boys refuse to complete tasks and dismiss his directives. Ralph experiences Jack's antagonistic nature and begins to become depressed. As the boys join Jack's tribe to engage in savage behavior, Ralph loses hope in being rescued. There are several scenes throughout the novel that portray Ralph giving into his primitive nature like the other boys. Ralph not only hunts but participates in Simon's murder. Ralph's physical appearance parallels the boys' descent into savagery as his hair continues to grow and his body becomes filthy. At the end of the novel, Ralph is forced to embrace his primitive nature when he is being hunted by Jack's tribe. Ralph runs through the forest, hiding in the foliage like a pig. By the time the naval officer arrives, Ralph is a broken child who has lost hope in humanity.

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In Lord of the Flies, what does Ralph represent allegorically?

Hi there...interesting question.  I don't think it can be answered, though, as it is written.  An allegory is an entire story that conveys a meaning through its characters.  Think of a fairy tale.  The whole story represents something. In that way, an allegory is an extended metaphor where the story represents some bigger idea or concept.

As you can see, from this definition, Ralph couldn't be an allegory because he is a character in a story, not a story himself.  What you could mean is "What does Ralph represent symbolically."  A symbol is different than an allegory because a symbol is a device used inside a story to represent some greater concept or idea.  In this sense, Ralph represents civilization.  It is Ralph whose thinking and actions are largely based on logic.  It is Ralph who prioritizes the hut building and the latrines.  It is Ralph, ultimately, that seems most interested in getting back to civilization by getting them off that rock....as seen in his interest in keeping the fire going.  So Ralph could represent, as a symbol, "civilization." There are other options there, too.  Ralph as a symbol of morality, Ralph as a symbol of the outcast, Ralph as the symbol of the reason...but I think you get the idea. So, if a teacher gave you that question you should ask what they mean by "Ralph being an allegory."  I think that you will find it should really be "Ralph as a symbol." Good luck!
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How is Ralph important to Lord of the Flies by William Golding and what does he represent?

Ralph is a key figure in William Golding's Lord of the Flies for multiple reasons:

  • He is the protagonist of the novel.  Although the novel is written in third-person omniscient, much of the novel is seen from his perspective. 
  • Ralph is one of the 'older' boys.  He looks out for the littluns and tries to protect them.
  • He is elected chief by the boys and uses the conch in meetings to maintain order.
  • Ralph represents good in the novel. He tries to maintain 'civilization' in the camp, creating rules about shelter, keeping the fire lit, and where to use the restroom on the beach.  In a Freudian analysis of the novel, Ralph represents the ego, creating the fine balance between the raw, naturalistic id (Jack) and the superego (Piggy) which values moderation and rules. 
  • Ralph stands up to Jack and his hunters after they let the fire go out on the mountain.  Ralph eventually becomes 'Public Enemy #1' and is chased by the hunters through the burning forest.
  • Ralph collapses on the beach after being chased, and he is the first one to see man from the ship.
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Who is Ralph in Lord of the Flies?

Ralph is the main character, the protagonist in the novel, who is voted to lead the boys at the onset of the book. He holds the conch, the power, and his goal is to keep a fire going to get rescued. However, as the novel proceeds, Jack, another boy vying for leadership, threatens his authority with all that is dark, evil, and savage within the human heart. At the end of the book, Ralph has been hunted by the boys, his tribe, who have abandoned him and is nearly killed when the boys are finally, miraculously, rescued!

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How is Ralph represented to the reader in Lord of the Flies?

It's been suggested that Ralph, "the fair boy," who blows the "trumpet-thing," is the angel Gabriel, presumably in contrast to the red-haired, "ugly without silliness" Jack. Ralph is handsome, athletic, golden-skinned, friendly, and serious. He's also very ordinary in many ways. He'll "never make a good chess player," and has to laboriously work out what he intends to say at the assembly instead of trusting his ready wit. He has all the good intentions in the world, but is often at a loss when it comes to solving real problems - or anticipating them.

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