Lord Of The Flies


The novel, Lord of the Flies, deals a lot with characterization. The character that stood out the most was Ralph, who was excellently developed by Golding as a leader. 

The very first time Ralph is introduced to the reader, one can see his sense of observation even in the first sentence that he says: "This is an island, at least I think it's an island. That's a reef out in the sea. Perhaps there aren't any grownups anywhere." As everyone knows, a good sense of observation is essential for a leader. He was chosen as a leader by the other boys, which shows the civilized instinct with humans. Ralph represents order and discipline in this chaotic world without grownups, which is shown by his character and composure during the first meeting. He almost defines himself with his first speech, "Listen everybody. I've got to have time to think things out. I can't decide what to do straight off. If this isn't an island, we might be rescued straight away. So we've got to decide if this is an island or not. Everybody must stay around here and wait and not go away. Three of us-if we take more, we'd get all mixed, and lose each other-three of us will go on an expedition and find out. I'll go, and Jack, and, and...." (p.23-24) Ralph wastes no time in bringing order to the group. He shows intelligence and self-control by not jumping into conclusions and by wanting "time to think things out." That displays to the reader he is cautious . Surely the other boys recognized this also, for he had earned the title, chief. 


Ralph clearly demonstrates the need for civilization by the tasks that he orders to be done. The first task he asks to be done is making a fire. He reasoned that making a fire would help a passing ship locate them. One can see through this and know that unlike the other boys who care to hunt, swim, play on the beach, and other trivial forms of entertainment, Ralph is intent on getting rescued. Everything he wants done is for them to either live on the island safely, as shown by the shelters, and or get rescued. During the assembly in chapter 5, Ralph tells the group his frustration that things are not getting done. From the way the other boys act, he implies that he is the only one who wants to get rescued. He states that the boys aren't even disciplined enough to "relive themselves" in the designated area. "That's dirty!" He says several times about that issue. 
Ralph wants to grasp what he can of the civilized nature of man. Another dialogue of his that lets us see into his nature is when he says, "Don't you understand? Can't you see we ought to-ought to die before we let the fire out"" Here, he shows his great frustration at the warped mindset of the other boys. He just can't understand how the fire is the last thing on the their minds. In order to make sure that the fire stays on, he makes a rule that fire is to be on the mountain only, and if anyone wants to cook something, it should be done on the mountain. It can be assumed that he reasoned that the fire would definitely stay on. Again, Ralph displays his keen intelligence and amazing ability to reason. 
One cannot correctly analyze Ralph without also looking at the way he analyzes himself. Clearly, he does not see himself as others do. Others see him as an intelligent leader, while he sees himself as a poor thinker. In comparing himself to Piggy, he states that Piggy is a better thinker than he. He is not at all like his friends who long to wallow in mud, instead he would rather wallow in soap. Ralph knew that there was something wrong with the situation that he was in. "He discovered with a little fall of heart that these were the conditions he took as normal now and that he did not mind."(110) He longed for his mother to tuck him in at night with a kiss goodnight and to hear her sweet, soothing voice tell him that everything would be okay. He craved the rough, yet tender hug of his father in the comforts of his home. Surely, he must think that any life is better than the one he has right now, but he settled for those gentle words from Simon, "You'll get back to where you came from." 

The question now is- was Ralph a bossy, egotistical fellow who was at times overbearing, or merely an instructor pointing the way towards life. Though Ralph was not a perfect leader, for no one is perfect, he certainly was a great one. He was a rightly respected young man who never swayed in his pursuit for what is right. As the novel progressed through its climax and then its ending, we find that Ralph has lost most, if not all of his power as the leader. For even in defeat, Ralph did not give up. He did not run and hide as the other boys did, which must have really made Jack mad. If we were in the same situation as those British boys, what would we have done? Who would we have been? If we were ever come across such a situation, then we would realize the wickedness in mans heart and the great hero Ralph was for standing up against such adversity.