Comparing Jack And Ralph Essay, Research Paper
Each of the two characters I have chosen to contrast and compare is presented in the novel as the
most influential representative of each of the two sides. Jack, the chief of the hunters, representing
the hidden human passion and almost animal cruelty, and Ralph, with Piggy and a few other
children, who is representing human common sense.
When the reader enters the book, they find the whole group of the boys on a small island after they
had been evacuated from their hometown and after their plain had crashed leaving them on the
island with no grown-ups.
At the beginning of the book the position of Jack and Ralph is more or less equal. They are both
well-conditioned boys of school age, who find themselves on a lonely island with some other boys of
various age, but not older than themselves. They share similar opinions about their situation and its
solution. They both want to be rescued and taken home. They both realise that there are a lot of
things they must do to survive on the island until all of them get rescued. And lastly, they both are
dominant types, but yet at the beginning of the novel they both acknowledge each other’s authority
and behave to each other in a friendly way.
At the return Ralph found himself alone on a limb with Jack and they grinned at each other,
sharing this burden. Once more, admit the breeze, the shouting, the slanting sunlight on the high
mountain, was shed that glamour, that strange invisible light of friendship, adventure, and
-” 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, although hidden conflict between Ralph and Jack, the conflict between the two sides, arises
when Ralph is elected or appointed as the chief, “the one who decides things”. The reader feels that
Jack’s vanity has been hit by the loss.
-” I’m the chief then.”
The circle of boys broke into applause. Even the choir applauded; and the freckles on Jack’s
face disappeared under a mortification.
Even then the relationship and attitudes of the two boys remain almost the same. They both agree on
the need of fire, on the need of shelters and on the need of meat. Nonetheless, one can feel that after
Ralph had been elected for the chief, the Jack’s side of “reasons” and Ralph’s common sense start
separating from each other.
At first Jack and his hunters do what they are asked to, but as time goes on, they start to participate
in different activities and neglect those needed for the sake of the boys’ salvation.
-” You let the fire out.”
Jack checked, vaguely irritated by this irrelevance but too happy to let it worry him.
-” We can light the fire again. You should have been with us, Ralph. We had a smashing time.
The twins got knocked over…”
-” We hit the pig…”
-” …I fell on the top…”
-” I cut his throat,” said Jack, proudly…
In Golding’s novel the fire, as many other things, has a symbolic function. For Ralph and his
followers, the only way how to get rescued is to keep the fire burning. Therefore Ralph tries to
enforce the superiority of the fire to other things. When the fire, the symbol of sense, goes out, it is
because Jack and his hunters get carried away by their hunting passion, which more and more dulls
their “natural” human sense. They let the fire out right when a ship passes by; this moment
emphasises the significance of the fire and the abysmal difference between human common sense
and minds influenced and dulled by eagerness; in this case it is their eagerness for hunting.
From this moment on, the divergence of Jack and his hunters from Ralph’s and also reader’s reason
is becoming more and more obvious. Ralph and Jack begin to compete, their attitudes to each other
change. The tension between the two is rising. Jack objects to doing things that Ralph tells the whole
group of the boys to do as well as he objects to Ralph’s being the chief.
Ralph leapt to his feet.
-” Jack! Jack! You haven’t got the conch! Let him speak.”
Jack’s face swam near him.
-” And you shut up! Who are you anyway? Sitting there, telling people what to do. You can’t hunt,
you can’t sing…”
-” I’m chief. I was chosen.”
-” Why should choosing make any difference? Just giving orders that don’t make any sense…”
-” Piggy’s got the conch.”
-” That’s right- favour Piggy as you always do…”
Jack’s voice sounded in bitter mimicry.
-” Jack! Jack!”
-” The rules!” shouted Ralph, “you’re breaking the rules!”
-” Who cares?”
Ralph summoned his wits.
-” Because the rules are the only thing we’ve got!”
But Jack was shouting against him .
-” Bollocks to the rules! We’re strong-we hunt! If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close it
and beat and beat and beat…!”
Jack also protests to using the conch; another symbol of common sense on the island.
-” I got the conch!”
-” Conch! Conch!” shouted Jack, “we don’t need the conch any more.”
The conflict between the two of them, also caused by different views on the existence of a beast
(Daryl L. Houston 1995), culminate when Jack decides to separate from Ralph. At this moment,
Jack and the hunters, lose the last contact with Ralph and Piggy’s common sense and voluntarily
succumb to their own hunting desires.
Now there are the two very different groups of boys, with Ralph and Jack as their chief
representatives. None of the groups profits from the separation, but only Ralph and Piggy realise it.
Ralph’s group is not big enough to keep the signal fire going, and Jack and the hunters do not have
Piggy’s glasses (another important symbol in this Golding’s novel) to make their own fire. Here,
however, the Jack’s fire is not a signal one, the hunters need fire so that they can broil their bag.
The island, which has a special function in the novel, it creates a different and distant world for the
boys, is now a place of struggle between human reason and minds uncontrollably carried away by its
own desires. Jack feels strong. He has got his hunters; they all hunt. On the other hand Ralph, with
a couple of his followers, has lost his “power”, or rather impact on the others; he feels that things are
going in a wrong way. The chances of their rescue decreases as the fire burns out; Piggy’s glasses
were stolen by Jack and his boys, and Piggy, who turns out to be a smart and reasonable boy, cannot
see without them; this fact is also symbolically related to the change of power on the island.
When Simon is killed just as he runs out of the forest where he had a “talk” with the pig’s head on
the stick, which is the Lord of the Flies, it is Ralph and Piggy who only realise what has been done.
When Piggy is killed, Ralph is helpless and desperate. He is alone and it seems that Ralph’s common
sense has entirely been defeated. Ralph tries to conceal himself so that Jack and the hunters cannot
find him. Now the whole island is mastered by the hunters’ cruelty. Fortunately for Ralph, the
rescue-party arrives “on time” and all the boys who remains on the island get rescued. Had it not
been the fire that spread on the island, the boys would probably have never been rescued. Here the
importance of fire as a symbol of sense is consummated.
The fire reached the coco-nut palms by the beach and swallowed them noisily. A flame,
seemingly detached, swung like an acrobat and licked up the palm heads on the platform.
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.
“However, there is no all-justifying End of the book: none of the characters takes any responsibility
for their wrong-doings (Daryl L. Houston 1995) and the rescue-party, which takes the boys off their
island comes from a world in which regression has occurred on a gigantic scale- the scale of atomic
war.” (David Anderson 1969).
The reader feels that at the very beginning of the novel Ralph and Jack are almost the same
schoolboys and, in a way, the same personalities. But at the very end, they are completely different.
The parts that are between the beginning and the end of the book are carefully developed stages that
gradually deepen the differences between Ralph and Jack. Ralph and his common sense stays almost
the same throughout the book, it is Jack and his hunters who change. The reader finds out about the
differences between the two by experiencing the situations and conflicts that arise between Ralph
and Jack as they struggle for “power”. The differences are greater and the tension rising as the book
goes on, until the plot hits its “unjustifying end”.