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Lord Of The Flies Essay

1566 words - 7 pages

“‘The rules!’ shouted Ralph. ‘You’re breaking the rules!’ ‘Who cares?’ Ralph summoned his wits: ‘Because the rules are the only thing we’ve got!’” (91). In Lord of the Flies, Ralph says this to Jack at one of their assemblies, after having berated the boys for neglecting the shelter building and the signal fires. Ralph’s leadership is built on these rules, and Jack’s breaking of them causes an ideological conflict between them which eventually leads to Ralph’s loss of power among the group. He tries to create a just and orderly society to fulfill their needs and allow them to be rescued, but the boys eventually find Jack’s churlish lethargy and excess to be more desirable. Desirable, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, can be "wanted or wished for as being an attractive, useful, or necessary course of action" (OED, but how do I cite this?? I don’t know). Although Ralph’s style of leadership allows for freedom of expression through the conch, its emulation of traditional society1 requires greater responsibility from the boys; in contrast, Jack’s rule offers them fewer responsibilities and greater freedom of desires2, which they view as appealing and advantageous, making it more desirable.
Ralph’s style of leadership, with its assigned duties and organized meetings, is thought of as a restriction by the other boys; Ralph plays the same role as the authority figures in their previous lives, causing them to eventually resent his ideology as opposed to Jack’s. His power was derived from chance: his discovery of the conch, and Piggy’s instructions on how to use it comprised his original popularity among the boys; he brings them together with it and its mystery causes him to be elected “chief.” The rules of Ralph’s civilization revolve around a shell, making his society inherently fragile; when the conch itself is targeted and destroyed, all semblances of order crumble along with it. Ralph’s rules are only powerful when they are agreed on by the group, which proves a problem for him when the group decides they no longer desire these rules. This becomes apparent after Jack’s inspiring speech breaks up an assembly. Piggy urges Ralph to use what power he has left by calling a meeting: “’What’s grown-ups going to say?’ cried Piggy again…The sound of mock hunting, hysterical laughter, and real terror came from the beach. ‘Blow the conch, Ralph...You got to be tough now. Make ‘em do what you want.’ Ralph answered in the cautious voice of one who rehearses a theorem. ‘If I blow the conch and they don’t come back; then we’ve had it. We shan’t keep the fire going. We’ll be like animals. We’ll never be rescued.’” In this situation, Piggy is still worried about the punishment of his previous life. He is the closest thing to an adult on the island, and Ralph is the only one who advocates listening to him, illustrating Ralph’s connection to the rules of traditional civilization, which the other boys despise and want to escape through...

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