Ralph’s Progression in Moral Development
How do children develop their moral ability? That was a question psychologist, Lawrence
Kohlberg was interested in, so he created the popular “theory of moral development”. Within the novel
Lord of the Flies by William Golding, all of the children are at different stages of moral development.
This may be the primary cause of all the conflict and chaos amongst the young boys in the novel. The boys are without any adults as they struggle through life on the island. The more they live on their own, the more their moral decisions are affected. For many of the children the lack of authority causes a decrease in their moral development, turning them into savages. One specific character does not follow this pattern and that character is the protagonist Ralph. Rather than become lower in the progression of moral development Ralph advances through many stages by the end of the novel.
Ralph at beginning of the story is at the preconventional level of morality. This level is the first in the developmental process, meaning that a person has acquired the ability to equate right with a reward and wrong with punishment. Ralph (at first) doesn’t take his situation very seriously. He couldn’t seem more unphased by the fact that he is on an uninhabited island on top of the reality of no adults being present. At this point in the novel Ralph only seems concerned with himself and he keeps convincing himself that his father will be there in no time to rescue him (and “Piggy” who Ralph has no interest in and little to no respect for). Ralph’s concern is himself and he believes that doing what is morally right starts with fulfilling his own needs.
In very little time Ralph matures, by jumping from stage two to stage four, the conventional level.
He becomes conscious to the fact that there are no adults