The opening chapter is effective because it introduces the different characters, especially the main characters and the themes that are in the book such as power. It also gives subtle hints of what is to come as the story unfolds due to events that occur in the first chapter. Piggy, Ralph and Jack are the three main characters introduced in the opening chapter. They are all from different backgrounds and represent different things. Piggy, introduced as ‘very fat’ is from a lower class background. We know this through the way he pronounces words such as ‘ass-ma’ rather than asthma. In the first couple of pages Piggy is chasing Ralph trying to get his attention which is ironic because throughout the book, including towards the end of the opening chapter, Piggy is constantly trying to get people to listen to what he has to say. This causes Piggy to represent the outcast of society. Although Piggy is smart as he is the one who discovers the ‘conch’ and knows how to use it, it is Ralph who is voted as chief due to his ownership of the conch.
Through his want for grownups piggy is also a representation of rationality, it is him that tried to take a register and headcount when all the boys are together. However Ralph and Jack are of an upper/middle class background. We know this because Ralph is wearing ‘stockings’ and Jack goes to a school with a ‘choir’. We know that Ralph is important because he is the first character introduced, ‘The boy’ the use of the word ‘The’ rather than a boy is a demonstration of his power and importance in the story. Ralph represents democracy through him saying ‘Let’s have a vote’. Ralph is voted chief by the other boys, ‘him with the conch’.
He has a good sense of leadership and uses the way the other boys value the conch as a way to influence them to follow his ideas. Jack however has similar qualities to Ralph which causes them on some level to clash. Jack believes ‘I ought to be chief’ causing him to represent dictatorship. Jack is not voted chief and becomes slightly envious of Ralph although nothing is said. This is one of the many subtle hints that things may not go quite so smoothly as the boy spend more time on the island. By Jack not saying anything he allows his anger to boil up. However Ralph notices Jacks envy and tries to prevent confrontation by saying to jack ‘You be in charge of the hunters’ allowing Jack to feel as if he has some power.