Before considering a persons’ suitability as a leader it is first important to evaluate exactly what constitutes a good leader. A worthy leader must be mature, confident, able to delegate and prioritise, logical, level headed, have the ability to evaluate a situation and a willingness to compromise when others do not agree.
– On the island Ralph is soon elected as leader. The boys respected him because he had the conch however notably it was in fact Piggy who found the conch and instructed Ralph to use it – to Ralph the conch was just “a worthy plaything”.
– Similarly the boys were perhaps drawn to the order and ‘democracy’ imposed by Ralph; “We’ll have hands up like in school”
– Ralph is able to delegate and compromise when his appointment as leader seems to anger Jack; “the Choir will belong to you”. For one so young this ability to maintain peace within the group is very mature.
– Ralph has a caring disposition and ensures that he looks after the littluns: “we can’t leave the littluns alone with Piggy.” As such Ralph earns himself their respect and trust; “I was frightened and started to call out for Ralph”.
– Ralph is also practical and logical; “we’ll eat first then go” and unlike most of the group, seems to understand the importance of rescue; “we must make smoke at the top of the mountain, we must make fire”. He also suggests the building of shelters.
– He accepts his responsibility as leader and is brave enough to put himself in harms way in order to keep the rest of the group safe. “I’m chief, I’ll go.”
– He seems to have a keen understanding of the nature of the other boys; “he had learnt as a practical business that fundamental statements like this had to be said at least twice”.
– Very early on in the novel Golding states that Ralph had a “face that proclaimed no devil”. Essentially Golding is explaining through physical descriptions that Ralph is not vindictive in any sense – which in the situation on the island is a crucial leadership quality.
– Ralph is confident – “This was the voice of one who knew his own mind”.
However there do seem to be times when Ralph cannot assert any authority over the boys.
– For example “Ralph was on his feet too, shouting for quiet, but no-one heard him.”
– Perhaps Ralph also lacked a certain concentration (particularly nearing the end of the novel). “He lost himself in a maze of thoughts”.
– At times Ralph is shown to be quite immature. For example when he first arrives on the island his primary inclination is to stand on his head.
From the beginning it is very clear that Jacks presence and natural authority over the boys make him a natural choice for leader on the island.
– We find out early on that Jack had been head chorister and was therefore used to controlling people – a quality that is soon demonstrated by his ability to control his choir. “Choir stand still!”
However there seem to be a number of negative aspects to Jacks personality. For example he is cruel to the other boys (particularly piggy); “shut up Fatty”.
– He is arrogant – an attribute that is established early on in the novel when he openly states that “I ought to be chief” with simple arrogance”.
– Jack’s vision for the island revolves around hunting. To begin with, this was only an interest, when asked what he would like the job of the choir to be, and initially, he is unable to kill the pig, as civilised society still has a hold on him. However, as time passes on the island, hunting becomes an obsession for Jack, ‘he tried to convey the compulsion to track down and kill that was swallowing him up.’ Even when Ralph suggests rescue, Jack’s response is, ‘I’d like to catch a pig first.’ Following this, Jack lets the fire out in order to go hunting, which increased the dislike between him and Ralph. Jack’s obsession with hunting is later echoed in the deaths of Simon and Piggy, which Jack was ultimately responsible for
– Nearing the end of the novel Jack becomes evil and dangerous. For example after cruelly murdering Piggy he turns to the other boys and states; “that’s what you’ll get! I meant that.”
– He refuses to follow or allow for rules openly stating “bollocks to rules”, but rather creates rules that suit his own needs; “The conch doesn’t count on top of the mountain.”
– His determination is for personal success and immediate gratification, and for self-aggrandisement. He does not consider the long-term effects or people’s feelings, displayed when Jack left the fire to go hunting.
Another possible candidate for leader is Piggy who throughout the novel represents scientific reasoning and intelligence.
– From the beginning of the novel Piggy is shown to be very mature for his age. While Ralph stands of his head piggy “we could be here till we die!”
– Piggy is also a clear and rational thinker. Ralph makes this clear when he says, “I can’t think, not like Piggy.”
– Piggy is organised – “let’s make a list”.
– Piggy is very closely linked with the conch – Golding’s symbol of civilisation and order. Not only does Piggy suggest blowing the conch but also his faith in the conch never wavers throughout his life on the island. He regularly states, “I got the conch!”
– He is also kind to the others on the island particularly the littluns – often going out of his way to pick fruit for them o ensure that they have their say.
– Finally it seems that Piggy is in fact quite a good judge of character. This is shown by his statement, “Jack hates me.”
Yet again Piggy does have a number of negative qualities.
– He is not an open-minded character and is hard set in his ways. For example he says “I don’t believe in ghosts – ever.” He also disregards Simon as “a batty”.
– Piggy is an outcast among the boys, particularly Jack who appears to bully Piggy right from the start with statements such as “shut up you fat slug”. However there is some sense in which Piggy antagonises Jack with comments such as “Jus’ you wait.” Piggy is therefore total reliant on Ralph for support; “If you give up, said Piggy in an appalled voice, what’d happen to me?” He is therefore not at all respected by the other boys.
– Piggy cannot speak well to a group and finds it very difficult to get his ideas across. For example he shouted, “I got the conch! Just you listen!” Similarly Piggy is highly intimidated by large crowds and “glanced nervously into hell and cradled the conch”.
Although roger is sometimes overlooked as a candidate for leader he does in fact possess a number of leadership qualities.
– Roger is the one who initially suggested the idea of voting for a leader.
– However he seems to have a cruel and sadistic instinct that is first portrayed as he kicks over the littluns sand castles and shows little remorse for doing so (in contrast to Maurice who “felt the unease of wrong doing”).
– As leader there is no doubt that Roger would have had complete control over the boys yet as a leader of a civilised society Roger would be an unlikely candidate.
Simon possesses a number of positive qualities that would make him a good leader. Throughout the novel Simon is a visionary and spiritual character although weakened by his physical disability and symbolises the rejection of goodness and truth.
– The littluns on the island look up to simon as he is kind and generous towards them, “Simon found for them the fruit that they could not reach.” Similarly Simon is kind towards Piggy, “Piggy snivelled and Simon quickly shushed him” which demonstrates his considerate nature.
– Simon has an innate understanding of human nature and evil on the island. Even when faced with the beast, Simon cannot see it anything other than human, ‘There rose before his inward sight the picture of a human at once heroic and sick’; he is the only boy who sees the beast for what it really is, ‘The beast was harmless and horrible.’
– Simon is not corrupted by the evil on the island, and the way nature takes him back symbolises purity, ”The line of his cheek silvered’. Despite both having horrific deaths, Simon has a much more dignified exit than Piggy, as a reflection of his character.
However although Simon has numerous qualities it would seem that few of them would assist his ability as a leader on the island.
– For example although he offers the truth to the boys he is unable to get his point across and is therefore killed by the boys.