Jack and Ralph: Political Rivals

Essay by mifdsamHigh School, 10th gradeB, December 2008

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When someone says the word “politics”, one immediately thinks about the U.S. political system. In the U.S. today, we have many political parties, but mainly, we have two big ones: the Democrats and the Republicans. In the book Lord of the Flies by William Golding, it can also be said that there are two political “parties”: the followers of Jack and the followers of Ralph. Jack and Ralph can be seen as representatives of opposing political forces because of their frequent arguments on who is the better leader, the bitter rivalry between them, and the ultimate division of the tribe.

Jack and Ralph have different ideas of how the tribe should function. This ultimately leads to arguments between them. “‘But I shall! Next time! I’ve got to get a barb on this spear! We wounded a pig and the spear fell out. If we could only make barbs–’ ‘We need Shelters.’

Suddenly Jack shouted in rage. ‘Are you accusing– ?’ ‘All I’m saying is we’ve worked dashed hard. That’s all”’ (Lord of the Flies, William Golding, page 52). In this quote, Jack is stating how he and his hunters almost caught a pig for them to eat. Unfortunately for him, Ralph reprimands him by saying that shelters are more important than meat. This makes Jack angry and he continues obsessing over the meat. “‘There was a ship. Out there. You said you’d keep the fire going and you let it out!’ He took a step toward Jack, who turned and faced him. ‘They might have seen us. We might have gone home–”’ (page 70). This quote occurs right after Jack and his hunters abandon the fire to go hunting. Although they do catch a pig, they let the fire go out; to make matters worse, Ralph and the others actually see a ship. Therefore, Ralph blames Jack for letting the fire go out. After all their arguments, a fierce rivalry develops between Jack and Ralph.

Jack and Ralph are both natural leaders, but there can only be one chief. This makes Jack resentful because he thinks that he would be a better chief. “‘He gave orders, sang, whistled, threw remarks at the silent Ralph–remarks that did not need an answer, and therefore could not invite a snub, and still Ralph was silent”’ Being a mean type of person, Jack asserts his authority by throwing cruel remarks at Ralph. To his anger, Ralph doesn’t respond. ‘“He’s not a hunter. He’d never gave got us meat. He isn’t a prefect and we don’t know anything about him. He just gives orders and expects people to obey him for nothing. All this talk–”’(page 126). Because he is discontent with the way Ralph is running things, Jack calls an assembly and he asks the tribe to vote on who should be the leader. No one votes for him, so he runs off into the forest by himself.

After Jack runs off by himself, there are also quite a few boys who follow him. So Jack and the other boys form their own tribe. Jack is mostly concerned with hunting to get meat, so his tribe hunts and kills a pig; unfortunately, they have no fire to cook the meat and in this quote, they plan to steal fire from Ralph’s tribe “‘We’ll raid them and take fire. There must be four of you; Henry and you, Robert and Maurice. We’ll put on paint and sneak up; Roger can snatch a branch while I say what I want. The rest of you can get this back to where we were. We’ll build the fire there. And after that–”’. ‘“Who’s going to join my tribe?”’(page 150). A few days after the tribe splits in two, Jack has a party for his tribe. He invites everyone, including Piggy and Ralph, so they attend. When they get to the party, Jack gives them both big pieces of meat. After they eat, he asks them if they want to join his tribe but they refuse. After Piggy and Ralph refuse to join Jacks’ tribe, they go into a frenzied dance and kill SimonPolitical division can be a powerful thing; in the U.S. government, it causes large debates. In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, it led to the deaths of Piggy and Simon. And although it did indirectly help get them off the island in the end, it caused much turmoil within the tribes.

Bibliography:'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding