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 are examples of Ralph betraying himself in Lord of the Flies?

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Ralph is the elected leader of the boys. He desperately attempts to establish a civil community and maintain society's standards on the uninhabited tropical island. However, there are several significant moments in the novel where Ralph betrays his civility and morals by embracing his savage nature.

In chapter seven, the boys are searching for the beast, and Ralph follows Jack's lead as they come across a pig trail. Suddenly, Ralph spots a pig, and a hunt ensues. Ralph aims and throws his spears in the direction of the moving pig and manages to strike its snout. Ralph is thrilled by the hunt and enthusiastically announces to the other boys that he struck the pig with his spear. Golding depicts Ralph betraying himself by writing,

He sunned himself in their new respect and felt that hunting was good after all. (162)

Ralph is a proponent of civilization and opposes Jack's idea of hunting and playing on the island. Despite his affinity for civilization, Ralph experiences lapses in his civility during the hunt by embracing his primitive, savage nature and developing a brief bloodlust after striking the pig.

Another scene that depicts Ralph betraying himself takes place in chapter nine. When a severe thunderstorm hits the island, Jack and his hunters participate in a ritual dance on the beach. Ralph betrays himself by joining the group of dancing savages and enjoys the frenzied atmosphere. Golding writes,

Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society. They were glad to touch the brown backs of the fence that hemmed in the terror and made it governable. (217)

In chapter ten, Ralph, Piggy, and Samneric collect wood to build a new signal fire but struggle to keep it lit. As the boys lament their difficult, hopeless situation, Eric asks why it is necessary to maintain a signal fire. Ralph once again betrays himself by forgetting the fundamental necessity of a signal fire. Golding writes,

Ralph tried indignantly to remember. There was something good about a fire. Something overwhelmingly good. (235)

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