Ralph is the protagonist of the novel who at first is overjoyed to be on a tropical island free from adult restraints. To express his excitement, he stands on his head, foreshadowing the topsy-turvy nature of things to come. By nature, he is an innocent, mild- tempered boy who accepts leadership when it is thrust on him. He serves as a democratic leader who tries to keep the boys together on the island and uses a conch shell to mildly show his authority. He thinks of building shelters to protect them and a signal fire for their rescue. He befriends Piggy, the fat boy that receives taunts and teases from the other boy, and learns to rely on Piggy's intellectual reasoning
Ralph has courage when the occasion demands it, but he really longs for the secure world of grown-ups, especially when order starts breaking down on the island. He dreams about a rescue and insists the signal fire burn at all times so that they can be seen. Ralph knows that the main reason for the disorder on the island is Jack, the antagonist and representation of evil in the novel. There is a constant conflict between the two boys. Ralph stands for civilized ideals, while Jack leads a tribe of savages and lapses into primitive rituals.
In the midst of the savagery, Ralph holds on to rationality and the hope of rescue. There is only one occasion when Ralph lapses into mild savagery; it occurs when he joins the ritual dance at the feast, the same feast where Simon is killed. The guilt that Ralph experiences as an outcome of his being a part of Simon's death is unbearable. It forces him to totally accept the fallen nature of all mankind. Armed with the truth, like Simon before him, he becomes the hunted animal, full of desperation and despair. Only civilization, that appears in the form of the naval officer, can save Ralph from the savagery that surrounds him.