While William Golding’s 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies, chronicles the group dynamics of young British boys from a state of civilized decency to one of uncontrolled depravity after they are stranded on a desolate tropical island for a time, it also disturbingly reveals a base brutality and primal savagery that surfaces when survival is at stake.
The protagonist of the novel, Ralph, is one of the oldest of the boys. He claims a position of leadership due to his natural, keen survival traits. Golding describes Ralph as quite tall for his age, handsome, and able-bodied, and he tells us explicitly that he presides over the other boys with naturally with a sense of authority. Although Ralph lacks Piggy’s intelligence, Ralph is a calm, sound, communicative, and sensible thinker with a strong moral code. However, Ralph is put under the same instinctive influences that affect the other boys, which is directly depicted with his involvement in the killing of Simon. However, Ralph does not hold his position for long, and is soon usurped by Jack, the head of the adventurous, aggressive, and dauntless hunter tribe. With Ralphs’ dedication to justice and equality, he represents the societal stability that is hand-and-hand with democracy. His unwavering push for rescuing and returning to the normalcy of society forms him into the most relatable, realistic, civilized, and independent character.
Ralph is characterized as the most civil among the boys. With survival being imperative, Ralph does many things to ensure everyone remains safe while actively searching for ways to return to society. By enduring and overcoming obstacles to ensure survival, Ralph has a shaped and developed character. For instance, when Jack and the tribe of boys usurp Ralph’s authority presiding over the group, and eventually result in smoking him out of hiding in hopes of killing him, Ralph is forced to pick between the baseline of survival and acting civilized and humanely. Ralph chooses to not retaliate against the tribe of boys, but rather hunkers down in a protective stance and waits out the attack. Ralph heavily relies on common sense and remains practical and. He typically is the one who imposes logic to a scene, especially when the boys need it.
For example, Ralph firmly believes that he and the boys will be rescued because when the authorities and everyone’s parents realize that the plane is missing, a search party will start trawling for plane debris assuming the plane crashed. Furthermore, Ralph never believed in the existence of the island’s fierce beast, the vicious Lord of the Flies. Ralph maintained that there was no such thing as a beast and that it did not exist even though the vast majority of boys believed in the beast’s existence. Ralph realized that there had to be a sensible reason for the boys to believe that there was a ferocious beast living on the mountain top. Ralph also believed in maintaining order and structure in the community, and he instituted certain protective precautions for the boys to follow to increase the likelihood of everyone’s survival on the island including proper sanitation, stable government and leadership systems, and a basic infrastructure. Unfortunately, due to the lack of common sense and maturity within the other boys, the necessary preparation and planning did not occur, leaving them undercooked and susceptible to all the chaos of the island.
In addition to being sound and stable, Ralph is an independent being. He demonstrates his strong, centered traits throughout the Lord of the Flies which exhibits his self-sufficiency. Ralph directly exhibits his independent drive when he shows initiative and is the first to step up in leading the boys on the island. Regardless of the fact that Piggy suggested the position be given to Ralph, the drive and natural authority Ralph exhibits shows the leadership ability he obtains. Ralph immediately knew what rules to institute without other people directing him. Ralph shows his human nature when he adverts and avoids being associated with the aggressive, barbarian hysteria of Jack and the tribe. In a nutshell, Ralph remains focused and headstrong with his judgement regardless of circumstance. He remains uninvolved in the boys injuring Rodger due to his internal moral compass.
Ralph presents his individuality when he refuses to join Jack’s tribe of boys, although the decision creates isolation. Ralph remains stagnant in his mindset and holds his moral code regardless of the other boys’ decisions; Ralph remains unfazed by peer pressure. Most importantly, Ralph’s character exuded civility.
He knew right from wrong all along and sticks to his principles even under dire circumstances like when others wanted to kill him.. As the first leader, he set rules that were equitable, just and civil so that everyone could live safely on the island. These rules promoted social order, public health and safety, community, and harmony. During the organized meetings, Ralph suggested that the person presiding over the floor be holding a conch shell to minimize chaos, outburst, and to encourage civilized communication.
Contrary to the actions of the other older boys on the island, Ralph encouraged kindness to all the boys, regardless of age. He refrained from participating in beating them or act savagely towards the younger boys of the island. This, yet again, exhibits his civilized character and demeanor.
Additionally, he also attempted to make sure everyone stayed focused and prompt when completing tasks including building shelter and keeping the signal fire lit. Ralph had the leadership ability to truly keep the boys civilized, but unfortunately, their animosity took over with Jack’s overthrow.