Lord Of The Flies By William Golding: Analysis Of The Character Of Ralph
If a bunch of boys were stranded on a deserted island. In Lord of the Flies midst an unspecified war only boys survive an airplane crash on a deserted island. At first social structure is established, but as the plot develops order erodes. Golding, mainly known as a British novelist, was a teacher that won the Nobel Prize in Literature. The protagonist, Ralph, one of the older boys, has fair hair, is a courageous and handsome boy. In Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies Ralph is a round and dynamic character. “Justice” and “democracy” could be considered as the values of his moral code. Ralph is not the smartest, but inherently good. Ralph’s diverse personality shows roundness. Jack, Simon and Ralph discover the island during the exposition.
Ascending a mountain, Ralph initiates the echoing of words: “Ralph turned with shining eyes to the others. “Wacco. ” “Wizard. ” “Smashing. ” The cause of their pleasure was not obvious. ” (Golding 35) In the rising action during an assembly anarchic speech annoys Ralph, who is speaking from the chief’s seat: ““There’s too much talking out of turn,” Ralph said, “because we can’t have proper assemblies if you don’t stick to the rules. ” (Golding 128) Ralph’s roundness is created by this variety. During the exposition Golding presents him youthfully; “shining eyes” and letting funny words echo is typical for young boys. “There’s too much talking out of turn” expresses Ralph’s serious side, as he wants order. Golding’s choice for roundness is important to show Ralph as interesting and amusing, but possessing inherently good virtues. Despite the harsh situation Ralph experiences boyish joy. On the other hand, he is portrayed as a serious boy: he wants productive assemblies. Without his roundness Ralph would either appear as a carefree, playful boy or unexciting. The effect of the roundness Golding created on the reader is sympathetic. Ralph is a boy grown-ups adore: amusing, but diligent. His funny side is charming, whereas his seriousness shows that he is not useless. The evolution in Ralph’s personality indicates dynamicity. In the exposition Ralph is presented as a leader.
During an assembly Ralph speaks to the boys on the island to share his vision: “We’ve got to have special people for looking after the fire. Any day there may be a ship out there. ” (Golding 58) In the rising action Ralph loses faith in his authority. During a conversation with Piggy on the place for the assemblies this becomes clear; “You could …”, says Piggy. Ralph anticipates: “Call an assembly?” “Ralph laughed sharply as he said the word and Piggy frowned. ” Piggy reacts: “You’re still chief. ” “Ralph laughed again. ” (Golding 223) Through the evolution from a leader to a boy who lacks authority, Golding presents Ralph’s dynamicity. In the exposition Ralph stresses the need of order, whereas in the rising action “Ralph laughed sharply” as Piggy said, “you’re still chief”. Ralph realizes that his natural authority is not effective anymore. The importance of Golding’s choice for Ralph’s development is that Ralph starts to think more rationally. Leaders should think quickly, but without his authority Ralph can take time to consider options. He is not used to complicated thinking though, which makes him slower and obvious things confuse him later in the rising action, for example when he could not find the reason for the fire. The effect of Ralph’s dynamicity created by Golding on the plot is that it gives rise to the conflict. The more Ralph realizes his failure as a leader the more his authority decreases; Ralph’s new confusion and slowness render him eventually totally unable to control the boys, so the overall structure erodes. The antagonist, Jack benefits from the situation and leads the majority of the boys into savagery, which is the opposite of Ralph’s attempt to construct a social system.
The main values of Ralph’s moral code are “justice” and “democracy”. In the rising action there is an assembly during which the boys start to argue on the existence of things like ghosts and beasts. Since there is no general consent, Ralph proposes to vote: “We’ll have a vote on them; on ghosts I mean. ” (Golding 128) Just before the climax, Ralph approaches Jack’s tribe together with Piggy, Sam and Eric to talk about the theft of the fire and Piggy’s glasses. As Jack is not open for discussion Ralph gets really angry: “You could have had fire whenever you wanted. But you didn’t. You came sneaking up like a thief and stole Piggy’s glasses!” “. . . ” “You’re a beast and a swine and a bloody, bloody thief!” (Golding 258) Golding presents Ralph’s strong moral sensibility based on democracy and justice through his actions: Ralph’s urge to vote for example is based on democracy. Right before the climax, Ralph is very mad at Jack because of his unfair actions and calls him a “bloody thief”. Therefore justice must be really important to him. Golding’s choice to present Ralph as a highly moral is important because by seeing the boys evolving towards savagery Ralph learns that the inherently dark and savage nature of mankind is very hard to fight. In the nature of boys sense for democracy and justice can hardly be found, which infuriates him. The effect of Ralph’s high morality on the theme is that the theme gains shape. One of the main themes in Lord of the Flies is the importance of social construct. Ralph embodies democracy, which contrasts with the true values of the majority of the other boys. Through this contrast and the lesson Ralph learns about mankind one of the true themes of the book is shaped and expressed.
It is clear that in Golding’s Lord of the Flies the round and dynamic Ralph epitomizes “justice” and “democracy”. I would not be excited for long intellectual talks with Ralph. However, his inherently naïve, but good virtues do shape him as a trustworthy friend. Ralph’s evolution drives the plot and what he learns shapes the theme. These characteristics make him very important to the novel as the protagonist.
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