Characters of Ralph and Jack – How do Their Characters Affect Their Leadership Styles? Essay Sample

Characters of Ralph and Jack – How do Their Characters Affect Their Leadership Styles? Pages
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Ralph represents democracy. He rules with fairness and is not afraid to compromise. The boys on the island follow him through choice and not by force. Ralph plans for the future from the beginning and tries to replace the adults which are not present on the island, whereas Jack represents dictatorship. He rules by fear and violence. The boys on the island follow him because they are scared of the consequences if they do not. Jack’s plans are superficial, he does not plan for a way to be rescued like Ralph does, and instead he organizes hunts and fun.

The message Golding is trying to portray is that there is good and evil inside us all. The different leadership styles on the island represent the different ways in which the world outside the microcosm is run. Jack and his ‘tribe’ represent Hitler and the fascist regime that was around during the time when Golding wrote this book. Ralph and his ‘tribe’ represent the democracies opposing the fascists.

Ralph is introduced to the reader on the first page as ‘the boy with fair hair’ and his physique is described as that of someone who ‘might have made a boxer’. Ralph’s ‘fair hair’ and ‘a mildness about his mouth and eyes that proclaimed no devil’ conjure a connotation of someone who is honest, ethical and pure, yet at the same time has a strong character and could make a diplomatic leader. As Ralph is introduced he makes frequent immature remarks such as ‘whizzoh’, ‘wacco’ and ‘sche-aa-ow’ and expresses his joy by dancing or pretending to be a ‘fighter plane’. At the knowledge of Piggy’s name he ‘[dives] in the sand at Piggys feet and lay[s] there laughing’. Similarly, when Ralph realizes that there are no adults on the island ‘he [stands] on his head and [grins]’

Ralph displays leadership qualities from the beginning of the novel when ‘[Piggy hangs] steadily at [his] shoulder’. Ralph’s first idea to bring law and order to the authority less island is to vote for chief. He asks the boys ‘who wants Jack for chief’ and counts the raised hands. He then asks ‘who wants me’ and again counts the raised hands. It is decided that Ralph should be chief, Ralph sees that Jack is upset by this so as an act of compromise he gives leadership of the choir to Jack who decides that the choir will be ‘hunters’. Another idea is that they ‘can’t have everybody talking at the same time. [They will] have to have ‘hands up’ like at school’. Ralph decides that when someone wants to talk he will ‘give him the conch’.

Jack is described by Golding as ‘tall, thin, and bony; and [with] hair [that] was red beneath the black cap. His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of this face stared two light blue eyes.’ Jack’s red hair suggests evil or danger which is opposed by the fact that he has ‘light blue eyes’ which suggests innocence. The reader is first introduced to Jack as ‘Merridew’. Jack believes that first names are ‘kids names’ and therefore ‘why should [he] be Jack, [when he is] Merridew’.

Whilst voting for who should be Chief Jack states that ‘[he] ought to be chief’ as he is ‘chapter chorister and head boy [and he] can sing C sharp’. He says this with simple arrogance showing that he believes himself to be better than the other boys and supports this fact with talents which would have been useful if he was not on the island but back at home. Jack shows that he would not be a merciful leader when Simon faints and Jack simply exclaims that ‘he is always throwing a faint’.

Jack is the kind of person which Golding believed everyone would eventually become if left alone to set their own standards and live the way one naturally wanted. Golding believed that the natural state of humans is chaos and that man is inherently evil. When reason is abandoned, only the strong survive. Jack personifies this idea.

Ralph’s leadership style is that of a democracy. He does everything as fair as he can and believes in the art of compromise. When making decisions ‘[he’s] got to have time to think things through, [he] can’t decide what to do straight away’. This shows that he is rational and wants to think of every possibility before reaching a conclusion. It also shows that he may not be the best leader in a time of crisis when a decision is needed immediately. Ralph believes in the maintenance of order. He calls meeting, makes rules and instigates the use of the conch. Ralph tries to use the meetings to make task plans. He says ‘meetings, we all love meetings. Every day. Twice a day’. He uses the conch in meetings he says ‘[a boy] can hold it when he is speaking’ and ‘he won’t be interrupted except by me’. This idea gives each boy a chance to be heard. All boys except Jack follow this rule.

Over time Ralph loses the power of organized thought and struggles to develop agenda for the meetings. He finds himself ‘lost in a maze of thoughts that were rendered vague by his lack of words to express them’. The authority he has in his communication is vital for problem solving. Ralph found that ‘assembly after assembly had broken up in laughter’ as boys fell off the log and could not bring themselves back to seriousness.

Jack’s leadership style is that of a dictator. He forces people to doing as he says by threatening them. He tells Samneric that he will ‘creep up and stab’ if they do not join the end of the line for face paints. Although Jack does not lead all of the boys, he always maintains control of the choir who almost immediately transform into hunters. Jack is charismatic, attractive and manipulative. He is also irritable and quick to anger. When the first pig escapes he ‘[snatches] his knife out of its sheath and slam[s] it into a tree trunk’. Jack has no time for weakness and this includes the littluns and especially Piggy whom ‘talk[s] too much’. Jack is frequently found saying ‘shut up, Fatty’.

Jack wants to make his own rules and is power hungry. His primitive desires and feelings mean that he feels at home in the jungle of the island. Due to his power hungry ways, toward the latter part of the novel, Jack decides to make his own ‘tribe’. ‘[He] and [his] hunters [were] living along the beach by a flat rock. [They] hunt and feast and have fun.’ Jack says ‘if you want to join my tribe then come and see us’. He possesses no qualities such as deliberation and logic and rules his tribe purely by terror and aggression. This leadership style and his violent reactions soon result in the murder of Simon. One night, during a feast, following Jacks lead of ‘do our dance, come on, dance’ all the boys start chanting ‘kill the beast, cut his throat, spill his blood, do him in’. The boys become out of control and Jack does nothing to try and stop it, instead he joins in. Simon then stumbles out of the jungle and in a fit of insanity the boys believe him to be the beast and ‘at once the crowd surged after it’.

At the beginning of the novel, Jack and Ralph seem to be friendly towards each other. ‘Ralph found himself alone on a limb with Jack and they grinned at each other’. The first sign of conflict between Jack and Ralph is when Jack takes Piggy’s glasses to start the fire. Jack realizes you can ‘use them as burning glasses’ so ‘[Jack snatches] the glasses off [Piggys] face’. Although Ralph does not oppose Jack in this action, he later uses it as an example against Jack. Then Ralph tells Jack that he ‘stole Piggy’s glasses’ and that he is a ‘thief!’ This example shows that Jack does not care about other people. Jack wanted Piggy’s glasses so he just took them. This is different to the way that Ralph would have approached the situation. Ralph would have asked if he could use Piggy’s glasses and explained the need for them.

In the chapter Fire on the Mountain, when the ‘boy with the mulberry birthmark’ wants to know ‘what [Jack and Ralph] are going to do about the snake-thing’ Ralph simply says that ‘there isn’t a beastie’ and Jack comments that ‘there isn’t a snake-thing, but if there was [then him and his hunters would] hunt it and kill it’. Although Jack is saying that there isn’t a snake-thing, he is putting the idea in the boys’ heads that there might be one. Following the statement that there is no snake-thing, Jack says ‘[when we go hunting] we’ll look for the snake too’ which is contradicting himself and Ralph who is saying that ‘there isn’t a snake’. This example of conflict shows that Jack relishes chaos and fear because it makes him feel more powerful. Whereas, Ralph’s priority is the boys, Jack’s priority is himself. Ralph tries to say that there is no beastie in order to calm the boys down and make them less fearful. This may because he knows the importance of order and that fear can lead to chaos, destruction and even death.

Another example of conflict is when Ralph starts the fire and Jack say ‘he’ll] split up the choir, [his] hunters, that is, into groups, and [they’ll] be responsible for keeping the fire going’. The ‘altos can keep the fire going [the first] week and the trebles can keep the fire going [the next] week’. But Jack and the rest of the hunters leave the fire unattended to go and catch a pig. When they return, they are boastful and proud of their catch. Ralph solemnly says to them ‘you let the fire out’ but Jack keeps on about his pig that he caught. Jack does not see the relevance of letting the fire out as ‘[it was] only out for an hour or two’. He says that they ‘can light it up again’. Ralph explains that ‘there was a ship’ and that ‘[it] might have seen [them, they] might have gone home’ Jack justifies the leaving of the fire by saying that ‘the job was too big, [and that he] needed everyone’. Ralph replies by pointing out the fact that Jack ‘could have had everyone when the shelters were finished’. This example of conflict shows that Jack is at home in the jungle and does not see rescue as being overly important. It also shows that Jack is not able to admit to his mistakes. This is when his superficial maturity is faulted, he shows his real immaturity.

In chapter 10, the shell and the glasses, Piggy’s glasses get stolen. During the night, Piggy and Ralph hear ‘from the back of a shelter, a stick [crack]’. ‘Then there was a vicious snarling in the mouth of the shelter and the plunge and thump of living things’. There was a violent fight and it is not until afterwards that they realize that Piggy’s glasses have been are missing. Ralph realizes ‘that [it] was Jack and his hunters’ and Ralph wants to know ‘why they can’t leave [them] alone’. This shows Jack’s violent ways by the fact that he stole the glasses. He forces a number of his ‘tribe’ to go with him and there are a large number of hunters against just Ralph, Piggy and Samneric. It is later revealed that Jack wanted Piggy’s glasses to make a fire at ‘his tribes end of the island’. In the following chapter, castle rock, Ralph goes to visit Jack to ‘see about the fire and Piggy’s specs’. The confrontation ends with Jack refusing to back down or even compromise and this results in Piggy’s death.

At the end of the novel it is obvious that many of the boys have disregarded civilization, including Jack. They are all covered in clay and paint, so much so that the tribe becomes a ‘pack of painted niggers’. This remark shows that it is no longer possible to distinguish whether the ‘tribe’ are a group of black or white boys. It is, however, very easy to distinguish Jack’s tribe from Ralph’s group. The face paints also show that the savagery is taking over and Jack is letting it. Jack has become obsessed with hunting and has no regard for matters such as being rescued. Although he stole Piggy’s glasses, the fire he has created with them is no more than ‘a cooking fire’. This shows that Jack has not the ability for long term commitment to any project. Jack has become callous and this has lead to two deaths and all but three boys regressing to savage behavior whereas Ralph has managed to hold on to the basic civilized behavior.

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