Ralph and Jack – Good Vs Evil
Ralph and Jack, from William Goldings Lord of the Flies, are the two characters focused on in this essay. The novel shows a group of English boys reverting to savagery on a Pacific island and the effects it has on civilization.
Both characters presented in the novel represent two sides of humans, barbarism and reason. Jack, the chief of the hunters, represents the barbaric side of humans, and Ralph with Piggy, represent human common sense. The book starts out with a group of boys crashed on an island with no adults. Jack and Ralph start out equal, as they both want to get rescued and go home. They both have ideas about things necessary for survival and rescue, and they act in a friendly way. (Golding, 1954):
Almost too heavy.
Jack grinned back.
Not for the two of us.
Together, joined in effort by the burden, they staggered up the last step of the mountain. Together, they chanted One!
The first conflict between Ralph and Jack, is when Ralph is elected chief. (Golding, 1954):
Im chief then.
The circle of boys broke into applause. Even the choir applauded; and the freckles on Jacks face disappeared under a mortification.
Ralph and Jack agree on the need for fire, shelter and meat. At first Jack and the hunters do what theyre suppose to do, but they gradually do other activities not important to their survival. While Jack and the hunters are off hunting, a ship passes by and there is no fire to signal it. Ralph is very angry at Jack and this carries throughout the novel. (Golding, 1954):
You let the fire out.
From this point on, the separation of Ralph and his followers from Jack and his hunters, becomes more obvious. Jack refuses to do things that Ralph says to do, and he objects to Ralph being chief. (Golding, 1954):
Ralph leapt to his feet.
Jack! Jack! You havent got the conch! Let him speak.
And you shut up! Who are you anyway? Sitting there, telling people what to do.
You cant hunt, you cant sing…
Im chief. I was chosen.
Jack and the hunters become more and more savage. They chant and dance like savages , and are obsessed with killing the beast or pigs, while Ralph is obsessed with the fire and rescue. Jack disbands from Ralph and creates his own tribe. Jack has the need for power and wants to become chief of his tribe. Jack and his hunters loose touch with common sense and become a tribe of savages. An example of this is when Simon is killed by the tribe. Thinking Simon was the beast, Jack initiated the attack and the hunters killed Simon. Jack and his tribe also murder Piggy. After each kill, Jack gains more power over his hunters and puts fear in their hearts. As Jack gains power, Ralph looses it. Without Piggy he is all alone and powerless. His common sense seems to be defeated and he forced to hide from Jack, in fear of getting killed.
Finally Jack lost all common sense and sets the island on fire to smoke out Ralph. Jack is barbaric and does not realize what he has done, he can only taste the death of Ralph and killing consumes him. Jack has had a stick sharpened at two ends to put Ralphs head on. This is a symbol of Jacks complete power, and shows how the power has fully changed on the island.
Ralph falls before an officer that has landed on the island to rescue them. Ironically is was the fire that spread over the island that saves the boys. Ralph was right, they needed a fire to be rescued, even though in the end it was the fire that was to kill him. (Golding, 1954): We must have a fire. A fire! Make a fire.
The officer who stood before Ralph was shocked and didnt know what to think.
(Golding, 1954): The sky was black. The officer grinned cheerfully at Ralph. We saw your smoke.What have you been doing? Having a war or something? Ralph nodded.
At the beginning of the book, Ralph and Jack seem to have the same personalities, but at the end they are completely different. Ralph and his common sense stay the same throughout the novel, while it is Jack and his tribe who changes. Situations and conflicts arose between Ralph and Jack as they fought for power. At the end of the novel, all Ralph can do is cry, because he knows he will never be the same again, his innocence is lost for ever.
Golding, William, Lord of the Flies, 1954
Faber and Faber Publishing