Essay On Ralphs Internal And External Conflicts

Lord of the Flies Characters and Conflicts

by George Connor

1. Jack

1.1. First appearance at head of "a creature"

1.1.1. "…The creature was a party of boys, marching approximately in step in two parallel lines"

1.2. Private school

1.2.1. All the boys are from a private school These rules are adhered to at the beginning Despite these rules, Jack was also given a position of power at school as leader of the choir

1.3. Class resentment

1.3.1. Dislikes Piggy because he is lower class

1.4. Sense of privilege and entitlement

1.5. Immediately dislikes Piggy for his weakness

1.5.1. Physically different characters

1.5.2. Different personalities

1.5.3. Feels Ralph is protecting Piggy "'We musn't let anything happen to Piggy, must we?'

1.6. Representative of savagery, violence and power

1.6.1. The antithesis of Ralph

1.7. Power

1.7.1. Jack's fundamental desire He is furious when he loses the election Pushes the boundaries of the rules Uses Ralph's similarity with the weak Piggy against him "He says things like Piggy. He isn't a proper chief.'"

1.8. Violence

1.8.1. Initially he is unable to kill the pig Suggests he was still governed by the civilised rules he had learned Overcomes his civilisation by wearing warpaint ...the mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness.

1.8.2. Becomes obsessed with hunting

1.8.3. Gives in to his own bloodlust The overwhelming emotion Jack and his hunters have to "kill the pig" is an indirect metaphor to suggest the boys are also killing a part of Piggy. While Jack and his gang continue to kill, the logic and reason which Piggy symbolises progressively diminishes. He tried to convey the compulsion to track down and kill that was swallowing him up.

1.9. Savagery

1.9.1. The more savage he becomes, the more he can control the group The boys largely follow Jack's lead and ignore their moral restraints The authority he has makes him feel powerful

1.10. The Beast

1.10.1. Jack learns to use the boys' fear of the beast to control them The beast is a hunter... we couldn't kill it. Shows how religion and superstition can be used as instruments of power

2. Ralph

2.1. Appearance

2.1.1. “The was a mildness about his mouth and eyes that proclaimed no devil.” Contrast with the red and black appearance of Jack (the devil)

2.2. Initially delighted at absence of adults - stands on his head

2.2.1. Naturally athletic - as such is a contrast to Piggy. He is, at heart, a dreamer who, unlike Piggy, does not see the seriousness of the situation they are in. As Ralph’s perception of the island changes his dreams revert to dreams of home.

2.3. Elected leader of the boys

2.4. Belongs to same class as Jack

2.5. Initially insensitive

2.5.1. Doesn't ask Piggy's name “this proffer of acquaintance was not made.”

2.5.2. Mocks Piggy's nickname - tells the others

2.6. A good leader

2.6.1. Listens to Piggy's ideas

2.6.2. Main concern is rescue

2.6.3. Recognises the need for order “We’ll have to have ‘Hands up’ like at school.”

2.7. Responsible child

2.7.1. Takes shelter building very seriously

2.7.2. Furious when the others do not take their responsibilities seriously

2.7.3. Bitter with Jack when he allows the fire to go out This marks the dissolution of his cooperation with Jack “Not even Ralph knew how a link between him and Jack had been snapped and fastened elsewhere.” Ultimately leads to Ralph realising that he hates Jack for the way he seeks to disrupt the order he craves Leads to closer bond with Piggy “Piggy, for all his ludicrous body, had brains. Ralph was a specialist in thought now, and could recognise thought in another.”

2.8. The isolation of leadership

2.8.1. “The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away.” Sign of Ralph maturing - understanding the concerns of adults and society "Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy."

2.9. Leadership struggles

2.9.1. Takes responsibility for investigating "the beast" “I’m chief. I’ll go.”

2.9.2. Increasingly frequent daydreams of home “Ralph leaned against a tree and at once the day-dreams came swarming up.” Ralph is disillusioned with the paradise he initially thought the island was.

2.9.3. The death of Piggy means there is no possibility of two leaders on the island “The breaking of the conch and the deaths of Piggy and Simon lay over the island like a vapour. These painted savages would go further and further.”

2.10. Civilised

2.10.1. He refuses to wear paint “we won’t be painted because we aren’t savages”.

3. Piggy

3.1. Identified as physically weak

3.1.1. Overweight

3.1.2. Asthma

3.1.3. Spectacles since he was three A symbol of weakness to Jack

3.2. Betrayed immediately by Ralph

3.2.1. “’They used to call me Piggy!'"

3.3. Working class

3.3.1. For a moment the boys were a closed circuit of sympathy with Piggy on the outside...

3.4. Piggy's spectacles

3.4.1. A symbol of intelligence to Ralph Indicates that science and intelligence bring progress There can be no fire without the glasses Piggy understands there are no "ghosts" I know there isn't no beast - not with claws and all that, I mean - but I know there isn't no fear either...Unless-...Unless we get frightened of people.

3.5. Piggy represents the law and order of the adult world.

3.5.1. He attempts to act according to an absolute set of standards. Piggy attempts to condition the island society to mirror the society they all lived in in England. He tries to pull Ralph towards the reason-oriented side of human nature.

3.6. Piggy and the signal fire

3.6.1. Piggy is obsessed with the signal-fire. "How can you expect to be rescued if you don’t put first things first and act proper?"

3.6.2. This is because he wants to return to England where adults are, but also because the fire is one of the only symbols of order on the island. "What could be safer than the bus centre with its lamps and wheels?"

3.7. Piggy's death

3.7.1. "The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist." Piggy's death leaves Ralph alone - he must makes his own decisions now "What was the sensible thing to do? There was no Piggy to talk sense." It also exposes to Ralph the cruelty of nature, and "man's essential illness" He regrets not having been able to save Piggy, and mankind's essential flaw

4. Simon

4.1. Different to Jack and Ralph

4.1.1. Has an innate goodness that is as primal as Jack's savagery

4.2. Morally grounded

4.2.1. Simon acts as he does because he believes in the natural value of morality Behaves benevolently to the younger children "Then, amid the roar of bees in the afternoon sunlight, Simon found for the fruit they could not "

4.2.2. The other boys act immorally when there is no adult to impose rules The other boys are conditioned to be good Shows Golding feels humans are more naturally disposed to savagery than civilisation Even Piggy and Ralph take part in the hunt

4.3. Christ-figure?

4.4. The beast

4.4.1. Simon is the first to understand the beast is a natural part of the boys and not an external monster Symbolised by the conversation between Simon and the sow's head Echoes of Christ's temptation in the wilderness Christ comparison continues in his role as a semi-prophet "'You'll get back to where you came from.'" "'Maybe there is a beast....maybe it's only us.'" "'You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?'"

4.4.2. The inherent evil within each human is the moral conclusion of the book Simon represents the idea of essential human goodness Simon's murder suggests an abundance of human evil and a scarcity of human goodness "However Simon thought of the beast, there rose before his inward sight the picture of a human at once heroic and sick."

4.4.3. Nature is indifferent to suffering "Then Jack found the throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands. The sow collapsed under them and they were heavy and fulfilled upon her. The butterflies still danced, preoccupied in the center of the clearing."


Carrying a stick sharpened into a makeshift spear, Jack trails a pig through the thick jungle, but it evades him. Irritated, he walks back to the beach, where he finds Ralph and Simon at work building huts for the younger boys to live in. Ralph is irritated because the huts keep falling down before they are completed and because, though the huts are vital to the boys’ ability to live on the island, none of the other boys besides Simon will help him. As Ralph and Simon work, most of the other boys splash about and play in the lagoon. Ralph gripes that few of the boys are doing any work. He says that all the boys act excited and energized by the plans they make at meetings, but none of them is willing to work to make the plans successful. Ralph points out that Jack’s hunters have failed to catch a single pig. Jack claims that although they have so far failed to bring down a pig, they will soon have more success. Ralph also worries about the smaller children, many of whom have nightmares and are unable to sleep. He tells Jack about his concerns, but Jack, still trying to think of ways to kill a pig, is not interested in Ralph’s problems.

Ralph, annoyed that Jack, like all the other boys, is unwilling to work on the huts, implies that Jack and the hunters are using their hunting duties as an excuse to avoid the real work. Jack responds to Ralph’s complaints by commenting that the boys want meat. Jack and Ralph continue to bicker and grow increasingly hostile toward each other. Hoping to regain their sense of camaraderie, they go swimming together in the lagoon, but their feelings of mutual dislike remain and fester.

In the meantime, Simon wanders through the jungle alone. He helps some of the younger boys—whom the older boys have started to call “littluns”—reach fruit hanging from a high branch. He walks deeper into the forest and eventually finds a thick jungle glade, a peaceful, beautiful open space full of flowers, birds, and butterflies. Simon looks around to make sure that he is alone, then sits down to take in the scene, marveling at the abundance and beauty of life that surrounds him.


The personal conflict between Ralph and Jack mirrors the overarching thematic conflict of the novel. The conflict between the two boys brews as early as the election in Chapter 1 but remains hidden beneath the surface, masked by the camaraderie the boys feel as they work together to build a community. In this chapter, however, the conflict erupts into verbal argument for the first time, making apparent the divisions undermining the boys’ community and setting the stage for further, more violent developments. As Ralph and Jack argue, each boy tries to give voice to his basic conception of human purpose: Ralph advocates building huts, while Jack champions hunting. Ralph, who thinks about the overall good of the group, deems hunting frivolous. Jack, drawn to the exhilaration of hunting by his bloodlust and desire for power, has no interest in building huts and no concern for what Ralph thinks. But because Ralph and Jack are merely children, they are unable to state their feelings articulately.

At this point in the novel, the conflict between civilization and savagery is still heavily tilted in favor of civilization. Jack, who has no real interest in the welfare of the group, is forced to justify his desire to hunt rather than build huts by claiming that it is for the good of all the boys. Additionally, though most of the boys are more interested in play than in work, they continue to re-create the basic structures of civilization on the island. They even begin to develop their own language, calling the younger children “littluns” and the twins Sam and Eric “Samneric.”

Simon, meanwhile, seems to exist outside the conflict between Ralph and Jack, between civilization and savagery. We see Simon’s kind and generous nature through his actions in this chapter. He helps Ralph build the huts when the other boys would rather play, indicating his helpfulness, discipline, and dedication to the common good. Simon helps the littluns reach a high branch of fruit, indicating his kindness and sympathy—a sharp contrast to many of the older boys, who would rather torment the littluns than help them. When Simon sits alone in the jungle glade marveling at the beauty of nature, we see that he feels a basic connection with the natural world. On the whole, Simon seems to have a basic goodness and kindness that comes from within him and is tied to his connection with nature. All the other boys, meanwhile, seem to have inherited their ideas of goodness and morality from the external forces of civilization, so that the longer they are away from human society, the more their moral sense erodes. In this regard, Simon emerges as an important figure to contrast with Ralph and Jack. Where Ralph represents the orderly forces of civilization and Jack the primal, instinctual urges that react against such order, Simon represents a third quality—a kind of goodness that is natural or innate rather than taught by human society. In this way, Simon, who cannot be categorized with the other boys, complicates the symbolic structure of Lord of the Flies.


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