Ralph: Was He a Good Leader?
As First Lady Rosalynn Carter once said, “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be,” applies to many leaders and one of them is Ralph. In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, a herd of school boys are stranded on an unknown island. There is no adult supervision and the boys are left to fend for themselves. Ralph is chosen as leader and rules come to be formed. However, this civilization doesn’t last long and the group disperses, most following Jack into savagery while a few stay with Ralph. Indeed, Ralph wasn’t a great leader who could take people where they don’t want to go but ought to be. If Ralph had possessed better leadership qualities, taken his thinking into action, and placed himself in the other boys’ shoes and considered what the boys would want, the civilization entrusted to him wouldn’t have broken down.
An important point is that Ralph didn’t bring himself to consider the other boys’ thoughts before saying things that would affect the social well-being of the island. Boys at the ages of about 6 through 12 would want fun and pleasure, and at the same time they need some boundary to their fun and some organization; nonetheless, Ralph didn’t seem to be able to do take such a perspective into account. In the book on page 45, Piggy exclaims, “You said Ralph was chief and you don’t give him time to think. Then when he says something you rush off…” Ralph didn’t stop to think before he went off mentioning the fire before everything was settled down. Obviously young boys would get excited at the thought of building a fire. “A fire! Make a fire!” was their initial response. The fire was not the only time this kind of action happened. In chapter fourJack apologizes for letting the fire out but Ralph doesn’t accept it and this results in Jack and the hunters becoming mad and annoyed. “That was a dirty trick,” Ralph says in response, still not giving in. Jack was able to win over a lot of the boys because he knew what they wanted. A good leader should be able to put themselves in their peoples’ shoes and brood about what they want before making the call. Ralph, simply put, did not do this.
Next, the chief of this island (Ralph) couldn’t bring himself to translate his plans into action. He would think and talk, but nothing would ever really happen. “And another thing-” “Too many things,” a memorable phrase on page 81, shows that Ralph would go on and on talking. You get to see that even the boys are tired of Ralph’s constant chatter about how to live the life of paradise as a life of boredom. And, you get to see later that none of Ralph’s rules would matter anymore later on when Jack rebels. “But you’ve talked and talked!” Jack profoundly states on page 81. Young boys are not patient, as one should naturally expect of the young and disoriented, but Ralph didn’t seem to know this. They have a short attention span. In addition his rules weren’t really well explained to the boys. If it was well explained then the boys wouldn’t have had such a problem with the laws. In other words Ralph was slow.
Another argument is that Ralph didn’t possess the leadership qualities that he should have had to lead a wayward bunch of boys. You get to see this breakdown in the beginning, when the boys and Ralph had same views they got along. However, when their views started changing they were all over the place. Ralph even admits it himself on page 82: “Things are breaking up. I don’t understand why. We began well; we were happy.” If Ralph had possessed the leadership qualities that he should have had, then when they had opposing views he could have been able to let the boys see from his side of the view. Going back to the quote a good leader takes his or her people, once more, to where they don’t want to go but need to go. Ralph wasn’t able to do this.
Although one could argue that Ralph could’ve been a better leader the civilization didn’t only collapse because of Ralph. Jack Merridew and the “beastie” also took a part in this too: “They talk and scream. The littluns. Even some of the others. As if- as if it wasn’t a good island,” Ralph observed. He was talking about how the “beastie” was affecting the littluns. The littluns’ fear passed onto most of the boys and this caused a lot of problems. The “beastie” represented the dark, evil side of the human nature. There was also another factor, Jack Merridew. He changed so much at his time on the island. He turned into a savage and caused most of the boys to follow him to savagery which also lead to the downfall of the civilization and order. However if Ralph was a better leader he could’ve put a stop to it. He could’ve put a stop to all this. He could have comforted the littluns from their fears of the beastie and caused Jack to stop from turning into a mad barbarian, but he didn’t.
Ralph, despite his qualities of thoughtfulness and compassion, wasn’t a strong leader; if he had been the civilization of the island wouldn’t have died out. Ralph did not have the leadership essence, did not take his thinking to action, and he didn’t place himself in his people’s shoes and ponder what they want and what they need. His failure of empathy was, ultimately, a failure of leadership.
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