, Research Paper
In William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies the boys on the island
go through many changes over the course of the book. This is true of the
main character, Ralph. Even within the first four chapters, Ralph
experiences drastic mental transformations.
Ralph’s mental changes are gradual but clear. In the very beginning
of the book, Ralph is very happy about his removal from the civilized
world. When Piggy states to Ralph that there are no adults on the island,
Ralph is so overjoyed that he proceeds to do a headstand in the middle of
the jungle. Ralph also removes all of his clothing at this realization.
This demonstrates that Ralph is consciously removing himself form the
aspects of civilized society, in this case clothes. Toward the end of the
first chapter, however, Ralph does begin to appreciate ideas normally
associated with organized society. He develops the idea that some form of
government must be formed on the island. He takes this as far as to become
the boys’ chief himself.
By the book’s second chapter Ralph is becoming even more civilized in
nature. One of the first acts that Ralph does as leader is to establish
certain rules. One of these rules is the one that states that who ever
holds the Ralph’s conch shell is aloud to speak without being interrupted,
except by Ralph. This shows that Ralph is beginning to understand that
representative government does have its advantages, because it allows for
the good ideas of many to be heard. Ralph is also further changed into a
figure of authority when he attempts to logically assure the other boys
that there is no beast on the island.
By the third chapter Ralph is effectively established as a true
government leader. Ralph is the one who starts the building of the
shelters, and is the only one , besides Simon, who sees the project through
to its end. This demonstrates that Ralph has come to realize that being on
the island alone, without adults, is not all fun and games. In fact it
requires an extensive amount of hard work to survive.
The fourth chapter pictures a Ralph almost totally different from the
carefree fun loving boy depicted at the book’s beginning. He is now
totally aware of the importance of rescue from the island, when in the
beginning he was happy to get away from civilization. It is for this
reason that Ralph becomes so angered at Jack when Jack ruins there first
possibility of escape from the island.
Obviously Ralph has undergone an intellectual metamorphosis in the
novel. His initial childlike attitude of being stranded has virtually
disappeared by the end of the fourth chapter.