The Leaders of the Island: Lord of the Flies Essay Example



What is a leader? The person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country. Then, what is a good leader? Or, a bad leader? What aspects do they have? What is the difference? William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies, the readers learn about two boys and their contrasting types of leadership. The novel commences with a group of British schoolboys that end up on a deserted island through a plane crash. With no adults, the boys set rules and elect a leader to guide them until they are rescued; this leader is named Ralph. As time passes on the island, the boys slowly turn savage, especially Jack who is determined to gain power and kill pigs for fun while disobeying Ralph.

Eventually, Jack and Ralph separate into two different groups. Later, the boys in Ralph’s group begin to leave and follow Jack as their leader, ultimately Ralph loses power and is despised by Jack’s group. The two boys, Ralph and Jack, may both be strong leaders, but they are antithetical to one another; like opposing sides of a spectrum. The enormous distance between the two boys is greatly demonstrated through their difference in moral values, rationale and their contrasting use of authority. Ralph’s actions throughout the novel demonstrate that he is a further capable and superior leader than Jack.

Firstly, Jack and Ralph greatly portray throughout the novel their difference in moral values. The two boys in the novel both symbolically represent civilization and savagery, Ralph with the right goals in mind, and moral values represent civilization, while Jack represents the savagery of human beings. Ralph clearly shows the reader that he is a far better leader than Jack. This is demonstrated when Piggy is killed by a boulder at Jack’s fortress, as Piggy falls on a rock with his head cracked open, and the conch shattered into a thousand pieces, Jack yells “‘See? See? That’s what you’ll get! I meant that! There isn’t a tribe for you anymore! The conch is gone-’ He ran forward, stooping. ‘I’m Chief!’”(Golding 201). Piggy’s death to Jack does not even cross his mind; he does not care and believes what he did is correct. Jack thinks that human lives do not hold value and can be easily thrown away.

Jack loses his sense of what is right and wrong. Any person who knows what is right and wrong recognizes that killing a person is not the right thing to do, especially, thinking after that what has been done is correct. Essentially, Jack proves to the reader that he has lost his morality and sense. Ralph, however, has morality and a sense of what is right and wrong. This is greatly displayed throughout the novel when Jack says that they do not need the conch during an assembly and only some people should speak. Ralph replies with, “‘You haven’t got the conch,’ he said. ‘Sit down’”(Golding 111).

Through this quote Ralph shows the reader that he is fully capable of knowing that everyone has a right to speak; the conch is used throughout the novel as a right of turn to speak within the group. This evidence reveals that Ralph respects the boys in the group and believes that everyone should be respected. Ralph sets an example of a good role model with higher overall maturity. He follows the rules and does what is right even when there are instances of chaos in the group. Therefore this clearly shows how Ralph is a better leader than Jack because of his morality and sense of what is right and wrong, unlike Jack who lacks this. Ralph teaches the group of boys to keep their morality and sense of judgment. A leader’s job is to guide the people on the right path and ensure the rationale of the group is present within everyone. Not only do they differ in their moral values, but also in their way of thinking.

Additionally, throughout the time the boys have spent on the island, it is clear that Ralph and Jack have different types of thinking. Ralph uses logical and rational thinking while Jack uses irrational and impulsive thinking to carry out his actions. This is clearly shown when Ralph is mad at Jack for not keeping the fire lit when a ship passes by the island. Jack in turn, careless about the fire exclaims, “‘We needed meat’”(Golding 75). This piece of evidence is important because the smoke from the fire is the only signal the group of boys has to get rescued. Jack, however, disregards this and goes out hunting for meat instead of keeping the fire lit and the smoke show. Jack does not think about the consequences of his very own actions and acts on an impulsive mindset, resulting in a missed opportunity of rescue.

Jack is full of the idea of play time and no work, he does not want to own up to his actions and perform what is needed to be done. With this, Jack points to the reader his illogical and impulsive behaviour. He quickly loses sight of the more important aspects of their situation. Ralph, on the contrary, logically carries out his actions with Piggy as an advisor. An example of this is when Jack’s tribe shouts against Piggy’s idea of what is logical when he holds the conch, Ralph shouts back saying “‘Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?’” (Golding 200). This quote reveals to the reader that Ralph still believes that law and rescue are the only things they need on the island. Ralph questions the boys about their decisions in hope of sparking the logical thinking of the situation the group of boys are in; they are stuck on an island.

He still has a logical point of view and does not want meaningless objectives and events that arise to distract the group from their true objective of ultimately getting rescued. These two pieces of evidence show how Ralph is a greater and more capable leader than Jack. Ralph prioritizes the more important things like shelter, a rescue fire, and rules. While Jack prioritizes play and fun instead of work. A greater and more effective leader truly prioritizes the things he or she needs. In this case, Ralph clearly shows his capability of knowing what is truly needed. Not only do Ralph and Jack differ in their way of thinking, but also their use of authority.

An equally important factor is Ralph and Jack’s use of authority. There are two types of society in the world, a dictatorship and a democratic society, like on the island, Ralph and Jack represent the two types of society and leaders, a dictatorship and a democracy. The difference in their leadership styles throughout the novel is very evident, Ralph treats everyone on the island fairly and represents a democratic society, while Jack represents a dictator society through his unfair judgment of the boys on the island. One example of this difference is when the group of boys have their first assembly on the island, Ralph says, “‘... I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking.’... ‘And he won’t be interrupted. Except by me’” (Golding 31).

In a democratic society, there are an abundant amount of rules given to the people of the society. Everyone in a democratic society has the right to speak and voice out their own opinions. Ralph demonstrates to the readers that his way of leadership is like a democratic society. He ensures that everyone can speak and contribute to the group as a whole. Ralph believes in a democratic way to society. The conflicts that arise in Ralph’s group will be resolved peacefully and righteous. On the contrary, Jack is overly obsessed with power and does not think that everyone has the right to speak; that one person should only decide what to do. Jack uses fear to control the boys and gain power for his own benefit.

This is demonstrated when Roger and a group of boys are talking about the chief, Jack, at castle rock. Robert changes the subject and says, “‘He’s going to beat Wilfred.’ ‘What for?’ Robert shook his head doubtfully. ‘I don’t know. He didn’t say. He got angry and made us tie Wilfred up’” (Golding 176). This quote shows to the reader Jack’s use of authority within his tribe; Jack believes that one person should be controlling everything. He does not want everyone’s opinions and expects everyone to listen to his word. To reinforce his authority within the tribe, Jack uses fear to ensure his power over everyone. If someone disobeys him, they will be severely punished for their actions. This is shown when Jack beats Wilfred for no apparent reason, portraying to everyone that they will be punished for their actions.

These pieces of evidence greatly depict that Ralph is a greater leader than Jack. Ralph uses his authority to ensure everyone has a voice within the group, while Jack uses his authority to control everyone. Ralph treats everyone fairly and resolves problems or conflicts with a peaceful outcome, while Jack punishes the boys severely for their actions. In a democratic society like Ralph’s, the boys have the freedom and can do things they want. But in Jack’s group, the boys do not have as much freedom for themselves. A democratic society allows people to rule, and the minority still has a say and power. While autocratic societies are the opposite, the minority does not have any power. Ralph demonstrates to the reader his goals and mindset are for the boys on the island and not for himself. 

In conclusion, the two boys, Ralph and Jack, are the present leaders of the island in William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies. Although they are both leaders, Ralph is a stronger and better capable leader than Jack. Through his moral values, logical and rational thinking, and his use of authority puts him in a higher ranking position than Jack. Ralph knows what is right and wrong and does not lose his morality and secures the presence of morality within the group of boys. Secondly, Ralph shows his rationale and logical thinking by storing the right goals in mind; keeping the fire lit showing smoke, building shelters and most importantly getting rescued. Finally, Ralph uses his authority to give everyone in the group of boys the power to speak and contribute to the group. He ensures that everyone is treated fairly and righteously. Ralph truly is a better leader. He is the only person left on the island with morality, rational and logical thinking, and correct usage of authority. Without Ralph as their leader, the boys on the island would crumble and fall apart at an extremely fast rate.