Lord of the Flies: Character Analysis of Ralph

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Imagine a world without order. A world with no leadership—no rationality whatsoever. Take Ralph's character away from the equation and William Golding's Lord of the Flies would be just that—chaos. Being the protagonist of the novel, Ralph is the major representative of civilization, order, and productive leadership. If it weren't for Ralph's coordination, determination, and logical thinking, the boys would never be rescued, and would eventually die. As the novel progresses, Ralph's self-confidence is gradually chipped away, leaving him only enough strength to fight for the one person who should matter most—himself.

From the beginning, following his election to lead the group, Ralph immediately sets out to construct some form of civilization. At this early point in the novel, his influence and power over the boys seems secure. He begins to function as a democratic leader by attempting to do what's best for the people who elected him—maximize their chances of rescue. Ralph feels responsible to help the others by building shelters, and he tells them they "must make a fire" in order to create a smoke signal. He thinks for the good of everyone, not merely himself.

Ralph rapidly begins to lose sight of rationality as the boys gravitate towards Jack's anarchism. He doesn't understand the boys' loyalty to Jack, who uses the fear of the beast to convince them that meat is more important than focusing on their rescue. Ralph knows what needs to be done, but the other boys prefer following Jack's carefree, uncivilized nature, where they have no real responsibilities. Because Ralph receives no recognition for his democratic efforts, he steadily loses faith in his original plans; the voice of the people he once relied upon is no longer there to empower his leadership role. The only thing keeping Ralph's easily impressionable character from being swayed to Jack's barbarism, at this point, is Piggy. A glimpse of Ralph's vulnerability to primal savagery is shown at the end...
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