The Power Strugle

“Lord Of The Flies” Essay, Research Paper

The Power Struggle

By Chad Chenier

Mankind has a primitive desire to exist in a controlled environment, and also has a primitive desire to control his environment. In this Novel, the main characters introduced are a group of young boys torn between two leaders. One is a democratic and caring boy the other is a self-absorbed, power-hungry, dictator. As the story unfolds the choices become harder and eventually lead to a better understanding of the human condition. Since freedom is the ability to make the wrong choices and either live with the outcome or do what is necessary to correct it.

A leader’s political opinion can often tell a great deal about their personality and how they will interact with those under them. Ralph is a prime example of the democratic leader trying to pull his people together using reality as situations unfold. Ralph feels that the entire group should make a decision, which will affect the entire group. When the boys first arrive on the island they are in a state of confusion and disorder, unaware of the circumstances of their situation, nor prepared for the responsibility now surrounding their freedom. In a individual and somewhat instinctual act Ralph uses the power now available and calls the group together. When Ralph is questioned as to whom was in charge, and whether there were any grown ups he simply answered, “‘No we’re having a meeting. Come and join in.’” (21). A simple statement which shows that instead of lying or taking advantage of the situation Ralph chose to bring everyone together and pool their information to obtain a more complete picture of what had happened and what must happen. AS much as day and night differ so does Ralph and Jack. Jack is a compulsive, self-absorbed, dictator who plans for the present and ignores the future. With little to no regard to those under him Jack does not need loyalty or compassion from any one; simply their obedience. Jack uses fear as a weapon and a way of maintaining his superiority over others.

“He’s going to beat Wilfred”

“For what?”

“I don’t know. He didn’t say. He got angry and made us tie Wilfred up. He’s been” ? he giggled excitedly ? “he’s been tied for hours, waiting ?”

“But didn’t the Chief say why?”

“I never heard him.”( 176)

By setting an example with Wilfred of his power and his rage, Jack is able to declare to the others that obedience will be rewarded and disobedience will be punished. Between the two leaders, Jack and Ralph, we see the two opposite extremes. Ralph, the leader for the people and Jack, the leader of the people. When Ralph was thinking of escape and freedom Jack was thinking about having fun, something most all children preferred.

The friendly aspects of a society are in some cases more important than any other aspects. If a society is in a state of morning than this will reflect other aspects of trade and arrangements, however if a society is in a state of happiness, this will have a positive effect on the workings of the society. Throughout their stay on the island the boys begin to change and in most cases for the worst. The social frame of the island at the beginning was very uncertain with all of the boys trusting very little in each other and little more in them selves. The development soon brought a sense of trust amongst the group and a sense of security when together. As the roll of leader is filled the individuals find themselves having a voice in what happens. With Ralph as leader the group could act and function as a single unit. Ralph provided the group with a leader who was willing to do what needed to be done and get the job done and lead them into the unknown.

“I’m chief. I’ll go. Don’t argue.”

He turned to the others.

“You. Hide here. Wait for me.” (114)

A true leader is taking the first steps on the frozen water. Will it crack? If it does, the leader will have gone down in the protection of his group. Jack, on the other hand, feels that his group is less important that he, and that whatever he says goes. When Jack decides to separate from the group he is no longer Ralph’s responsibility as leader, however, Jack the leader of his own group soon needs fire from Ralph. In an attempt to gain more control over the fire, Jack leads an attack to steel Piggy’s glasses. The conflicting of the two groups is very clear when Ralph confronts Jack about the specs.

“Now Piggy can’t see, and they came, stealing ?” Ralph’s voice ran up. “?at night, in the darkness, and stole our fire. They stole it. We’d have given them fire if they’d asked. But they stole it and the signal’s out and we can’t even be rescued. Don’t you see what I mean? We’d have given them fire for themselves only they stole it. “(188)

In the passage above we see the final confrontation of the two groups and the truth about the savages is revealed.

Through out the novel we are introduced to a new economic system based on the minds of adolescents. Ralph sees this system as being very defined and straightforward. The boys will work and then play, the hunters will protect and hunt, and the boys will work together to accomplish the tasks. Compensation for their tasks is their rescue. “I said before we’ll be rescued.” (47). Jack is very good at finding a fun way to do things rather than doing work, which needs to be done. Looking only to the short terms he is able to pay the other boys for being in his group by letting them play and fool around. Jack also pays them with meat from the hunt instead of just fruit to eat. “Tonight we’re having a feast.” (155). With Jack’s hunters and the complete obedience of those who fear him, he is able to offer protection from the island, the beast, and each other. Between the two leaders, Ralph offers the truth to the boys and offers rescue as encouragement. Jack offers immediate fun and meat with no plans of being rescued and no long-term goals to which the boys can desire and work towards.

When people are given the power to choose, it is entirely possible that they will make the wrong decisions. With freedom comes choice and with choice, as the boys in the novel found out, comes responsibility. Making the wrong choice is not the end, it is simply the beginning of a new challenge, a challenge to correct the error and make another decision. History has shown that people often make the wrong decisions, but the wrong decisions are the principles to which the good choices are compared. Perhaps the only way to make a good decision is to make a few bad ones and learn from the consequences. In any event, the more freedom people receive the tighter they are bound to the rules of society and the more chances they have to make the wrong decisions.


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