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The Leadership of Jack and Ralph in Lord of the Flies
Throughout the novel Lord of the Flies, Ralph tries his best to create a society based on survival. As time progresses, it is clear that Jack's feelings are towards living life and having fun. Jack's society eventually leads to corruption, killing innocent people, while Ralph's prevails as the boys are rescued. Ralph uses a repetition of hope towards being saved while Jack's technique with no thought clearly flounders creating savages out of the once civilized boys.
Ralph's original society is split because of lack of interest with some of the individuals. They begin to loose faith in themselves, and thus seek fun and fortune. In the end the group seeking a long-term reward beats out the group looking for short- term rewards, as Ralph's group prevails, causing Jack's to lose stimulating death among the other boys.
"When Ralph spoke again his voice was low, and seemed breathless.
`What have I done? I liked him-and I wanted us to be rescued'
Again the stars spilled about the sky. Eric shook his head, earnestly.
`Listen Ralph. Never mind what's sense. That's gone-'
`Never mind about the Chief-'
`-you got to go for your own good.'
`The Chief and Roger-'
`They hate you, Ralph. They're going to do you.'
`They're going to hunt you to-morrow.'"(1)
Here, the reader is basically told on what the two groups have to offer. Ralph's group is based on being rescued, while Jack's group is pro-hunting and other games in the wilderness.
From the start, Ralph tries to keep the fire as the key-stone in the group. He knows that fire and smoke is used best to signal ships at a distance. This is what infact saves the stranded boys. In his group, Ralph makes shelters and calls assemblies. By using this method of bringing civilization to the island, the boys can thus remember what modern day society was like, and from then on can keep faith in themselves towards being rescued. Never once throughout the novel Lord of the flies, does Ralph become influenced or influence others towards savagery.
Although Ralph may seem like the ideal leader, he lacks in many characteristics; the main one being intelligence. Throughout the novel Ralph has to depend on Piggy for ideas.
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At this point, the others began to feel the effect that Ralph has brought on to them from listening to Piggy's ideas. Ralph continues to useideas from Piggy throughout the story, but they are ignored more and more. The ideas that once formed democracy throughout the novel, have now turned to dust. Even though they are much stronger, having more thought put into them, the others rebuke what is said after realizing that it has come from Piggy, the most detested boy on the island. The above quote is stated by Jack, the future chief, as he is one of the stronger ones in the group. By having said this, Jack now realizes the weakness of his old leader, Ralph, and can elaborate on what is being done. Jack's statement somehow stays inside the minds of the boys, and from this, Ralph looses most of his power.
Jack on the other hand is at a point to only gain members into his newly formed group. By being the only big kid on the island that does not listen to Piggy, his power grows. The others joining the group do not realize what they are getting into because there is no other big person to oppose Jack in the group. This gives them the illusion that Jack is never wrong and can handle the role on being a "sole-leader".
Quickly the others realize that Jacks group only hunts and has fun. This attracts almost all the others that have not yet joined the hunting tribe, leaving only a few to manage survival on Ralph's side. As more boys enter the tribe, Jack's power seems to increase. Whatever belief enters his mind, the others will follow and obey with no question. Eventually this goes too far, as Simon is killed being mistaken for a beast. Although already one death has occurred, the others do not seem to realize what has happened, and continue to give their new chief power. Jack's tribe then kills Piggy, and goes on a rampage, as Jack "brainwashes" the others into believing that Ralph's customs were boring and wrong. This is what sets all the others out to kill Ralph at the end.
As one can see from the start, Jack's tribe changes their lifestyles to a primitive state, while Ralph's seeks the future in life. Ralph thus thinks on a more matured level by learning from past mistakes, while Jack only seeks the fun out of life. This is the main reason why Ralph's group, even though lonesome, still prevails. Ralph and Jack indeed set different rules under each other's turf. The two leaders follow different beliefs, and thus have different lives to live, and groups to lead.
"`I'm going off by myself. He can catch his own pigs. Anyone
who wants to hunt when I do can come too.'"(3)
Jack sets his views straight as he believes that hunting is good enough for a tribe to live off. He also tries to encourage others this way by bringing up fun in hunting, thus taking them away from the boring "working life" that Ralph has to offer. In the quote itself, Jack states that the others can go when he wants to go. This may be a foreshadow of the type of leader he is, and what he may do. The quote also informs the reader that Jack has set his priorities straight, and that he wants to be the only one to have power in his group. The rest can be treated equally. On the other hand, Ralph's group has a democracy where everyone has equal power.
As the story progress', Jack's actions give the idea that he is fed up with the way Ralph governed certain circumstances. Jack changes all the rules that he and the others once followed, and enforces new ones which are much more stricter, where everyone has a job to do. Ralph's older method of having a democracy to follow simply crumbles, as few remain in the group once Jack leaves.
"`I said we could all do without a certain person.
Now I say we got to decide on what can be done. And
I think I could tell you what Ralph's going to say
next. The most important thing on the island
is the smoke and you can't have no smoke without a fire.'"(4)
This clearly sets things straight with Ralph's group, as there are no rules to follow as long as the boys work together as a team to keep the fire going and remain safe until being rescued.
Ralph's method is thus a democratic point of view, where everyone can have their opinion. Only at the meetings, power is shown over others, as the person with the conch has the right to speak. In Ralph's group the boys consider the conch as the greatest power that one can possess. They chose the conch over anything else on the island, because it is what first assembled them together, originating the group. This is what really made Ralph the first chief, as he held the conch when he was picked.
From these two points of view Jack's method of leadership is all because he is Jack Merridew, the biggest of the others in his group, and the best hunter. While Ralph's is based on possession of the conch, thus implying to others who hold the conch a sign of freedom. Although there are many factors that can be taken into consideration, what may have mostly influenced the boys to change groups, from Ralph's to Jack's, could have been interest in a new lifestyle. This is why Jack gets the better half of the 2 groups.
Within the two groups that are formed, relationships occur between the main leaders, and the ones they consider the second highest in command. In Ralph's case, it is Piggy, and in Jack's, it is Roger.
"`The Chief and Roger-'
`They hate you, Ralph. They're going to do you.'
`They're going to hunt you to-morrow.'
`I dunno. And Ralph, Jack, the Chief, says it'll be dangerous-'
`-and we've got to be careful and throw our spears like at a pig.'"(5)
This quote shows Roger and Jack sharing the same beliefs. Both are considered hostile by the twins, who are the main people speaking. Their characters throughout the story follow the same outline, as both belong to the same choir in the start, and at the end, both hunt and think alike. Even though Roger has no point to hate Ralph, as Ralph has done him no harm, Roger still finds it in him because of what has happened between Ralph and Jack. Together they want to rid Ralph of his power, and take control of the island.
Throughout the novel, they are compared as having the same power in hunting, and the same mean streak in them. They never opposed one another when Piggy was killed by Roger's hand. They are seen in the reader's eyes as both being cold blooded.
"`You don't know Roger. He's a terror.'
`-and the Chief-they're both-'
This quote emphasizes the fact that both Jack and Roger are feared among the others. Both thus have power over their tribe, and can throw commands at anyone in the group without problems. Both Jack and Roger have the power of never being asked a question about their abilities. The way that the quote was stated, also gives the impression that among some of the boys Roger is feared more than Jack, their leader.
Piggy and Ralph share a relationship towards one another throughout the novel. From the start it is revealed, as Piggy comes up with the idea for Ralph to blow the conch in order to organize the first assembly. As the plot makes its way, nearing the end, the others become fed up with the Ralph-Piggy relationship.
"There was a kind of sigh on the platform as if everyone knew what
was coming. Jack's voice went on, tremulous yet determined, pushing
against the unco-operative silence. `He's like Piggy. He says things like Piggy. He isn't a
From this, one can notice the hostility in Jack's voice, as he has had it with Ralph listening to Piggy's advice.
Together, Piggy acts as a mind for Ralph. When Ralph is in trouble, Piggy usually says something to get Ralph out of the hole he has put himself into. This is all well until the point where Jack can no longer take this (as shown in the above quote). Piggy, for the first time, gets Ralph in trouble for his advice, and eventually is the cause for the loss of Ralph's power. Although Ralph's power is lost, he makes no regret on listening to Piggy. Ralph's wisdom grows stronger throughout the novel, as he realizes that Jack and his tribe are only together because of hunting.
Together in comparison, Piggy and Ralph's relationship seems to have an edge over Jack and Roger's. This is because of the fact that Ralph learned important lessons in life from Piggy. There was close to nothing to experience in Jack and Roger's relationship. The only things that they had in common were their anger, and their terror they brought to others.
From the above arguments, the fact that Ralph's society is better as a whole over Jack's was proven. Ralph's society prevails as the boys stranded on the island are saved by smoke signals, which is in fact what his group based their main ideas upon. Jack's tribe ended up bringing death to others, as they killed and destroyed things, putting no thought into what they did. Although Ralph's democratic society didn't work out, he still kept them together, having no problems to deal with. When the boys changed leaders, going to Jack's group, chaos occurred. This thus proves that Ralph's democratic society prevails as a more stable environment.
Ralph and Piggy's relationship could also be given the edge over Jack and Roger's, as Ralph had lots to learn at the start, but nearing the end of the plot, it all seemed to pay off. In any instance, Ralph's society would have been the best route to take, as democracy is governed by the people, for the people, and with the people.
1. William Golding, Lord of the Flies. (Queen Square London: Faber & Faber, 1954,)P.208.
2. Ibid., P.139.
3. Ibid., P.141.
4. Ibid., P.142.
5. Ibid., P.208.
6. Ibid., P.209.
7. Ibid., P.139.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. Cox & Tasmen. London: Faber & Faber, 1954.