Leadership Of The Boys


The novel Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, focuses on a group of English school boys who are stranded on an island due to a plane crash. They soon learn of each other's existence when one of the older boys, Ralph, blows a conch shell and holds the first of many meetings. Along with Ralph, there are a group of choir boys, a group of younger boys who they start to call "littluns", and an intelligent, civilized young boy named Piggy. The boys decide to vote Ralph as "chief." But, there is a problem. The choir boys already have a leader-Jack. Jack feels that he is more qualified than Ralph and should be the leader of the boys. The boys stick to their decision, since Ralph was the one who brought them together. As the reader continues to read through the novel, he/she can see that Golding uses the two of the main characters, Ralph and Jack, to contrast the different leadership qualities

The qualities of a good leader are universally accepted. The leader has to have control over his followers. He has to demand respect. The leader also has to be able to persuade his followers to follow him without taking away from his beliefs. A good leader also has to be able to be strong, mentally more than physically. He needs to be able to stand his ground and strongly believe in what he feels is right. A good leader also has to believe in himself. If a leader does not believe in himself, then who will? A leader has to lay out his rules and demand that he and his followers follow them and if not, they will be punished. A leader has to be assertive and does not need to back down from anything. The two main characters in this novel express some of these characteristics, one character more than the other. 


The first leader that Golding shows to the reader is Ralph. He is presented to the reader as a handsome young man who is not afraid of anything and likes to have fun. Since he is the one who blows the conch, the boys automatically designate him as "chief." Ralph starts off as a great leader who knows what has to be done in order for survival, knows to assign certain people certain jobs, and knows they need to be rescued as quickly as possible. He knows they need to have fire for cooking and to create smoke to use as a signal to get the attention of the fighter jets overhead or the cruiser ships in the sea. The first mistake Ralph makes is giving Jack total control over the choir boys. The second mistake is making the choir boys totally in control of the hunting and the fire. This allows Jack and the choir boys make their own rules and Jack encourages the boys to not follow Ralph's rules. This makes the choir boys see Jack as a better leader and they start to stray away from Ralph. As for the "littluns," they love Ralph. They love his ideas and think that they are the best ideas they have ever heard. When Ralph asks the littluns to help carry out those ideas, they go and play in the water hole. They break the rules and Ralph does nothing about it. Ralph loses control over the boys because he is too forgiving and does not enforce his rules. Even though he had the right intent, he did not have the leadership experience that Jack had and Jack overthrew him 

The second leader presented to the reader and the more effective leader is Jack. He came into the novel as the head choir boy. The reader can infer that Jack loves to be the main man in everything he does. He wants to always be number one. He knows how to get others to follow him, and he does that very effectively. He gives the boys what they want. Everyone on the island knows they need to kill and eat the pigs in order to survive. Jack is the one with the knife and he leads the boys to believe the he is more powerful than Ralph. The boys see Jack as their friend who brings them meat and they only see Ralph as a big boss who tries to boss them around. By the boys leaving Ralph and joining the choir boys, they are able to have fun and run wild. Jack knows how to get what he wants and he will do anything to get it. He allows the boys to kill the beast in the woods who actually turns out to be Simon. Then he allows the boys to kill Piggy. They then try to kill Ralph before the officer comes. If it had not been for the officer, Jack would have succeeded in destroying every obstacle in his way. He did not care about being rescued, he did not care who he was hurting, and he did not care who done what as long as in the end they were following him and acknowledged him as the leader. Even though Jack had the wrong intentions, the boys follow him and they do exactly what he wants. 
In the end, Jack ends up with total control over the boys and Ralph is alone. The boys see Jack as the food provider and the freedom giver. Jack had the leader experience and Ralph had none. Jack had practically destroyed the island and he had not realized it. His ego had him on "cloud nine" and he was as happy as could be. At the end of the novel, a naval officer comes onto the island. When he asks who is in charge,
 Jack steps forward and then steps back. He finally realizes that what he was doing was wrong. He did not want to take the blame for it, so he steps back thinking that Ralph would take all of the blame. Ralph loudly proclaims the he is the leader. After finally realizing what had actually happened, Ralph started to cry. His sadness of the killing and war soon spread to the boys, who also started crying. They had all finally come to realize what they had done. They soon discovered that if they had followed Ralph, none of this would have happened. It is clearly shown that if Ralph had possessed better leadership qualities, the island would have not been turned into a living Hell. Golding cleverly shows how a good leader with the wrong intentions can, and will, overthrow a bad leader with the right intentions.