Lord of the Flies - Jack and Ralph


"Compare and contrast the characters of Jack and Ralph and discuss the way that the rivalry between them develops in the course of the novel." By comparing and contrasting the characters of Jack and Ralph it allows the reader to fully understand their characters and how each develops throughout the novel. Once this has been achieved the reason the rivalry occurs becomes evident and the novel?s most important qualities and themes emerge from these two characters. It is then that we are able to see why Ralph and Jack?s friendship can never develop into anything but rivalry.

Throughout the novel we see that Ralph and Jack share similar qualities, but there is a great difference in the way they use these attributes to benefit both themselves and others. Ralph uses his power to create a democracy, where each person has the right to voice their opinions and ideas. ?I?ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he?s speaking...and he won?t be interrupted.? The conch becomes a symbol of the right of a speaker to a fair hearing. While Jack uses his authority to produce a fascist, hostile environment where he controls the doings of his tribe. ?Tomorrow we shall hunt? and ?He said we weren?t to let you in.? Whilst both characters have the chance to exercise their power, both do so in a disparate way, with Ralph aiming to benefit the group as a whole, and Jack himself profiting from his actions. Ralph and Jack begin the novel with similar beliefs, both wanting to implement rules. ?I agree with Ralph. We?ve got to have rules and obey them.? Ralph concentrates on being rescued and Jack goes along with this taking on the responsibility that he and his choir will mind the fire. ?We?ll be responsible for keeping the fire going-?, but while Ralph remains focused on being rescued, Jack?s new-found interest in hunting leads him to forget about rescue. ?Jack had to think for a moment before he could remember what rescue was. ?Rescue? Yes, of course! All the same, I?d like to catch a pig first-.? As the story evolves, so to do Ralph and Jack?s different opinions.

The pressure on Ralph and Jack?s different ideas peak when Jack forgets about his responsibilities in order to hunt. When Ralph tells Jack a ship had passed, and Jack had let the fire go out, because he had been hunting, all Jack can say is ?You should have seen the blood!? Now Jack is faced with two choices. ?There was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill; and there was the world of longing and baffled commonsense. Jack transferred the knife to his left hand and smudged blood over his forehead.? We witness Jack step out of the world of civilisation and cross into a realm of savagery. From here Jack and Ralph?s similarities deteriorate and a gap develops between them, causing many problems due to conflicting viewpoints. ?They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling, unable to communicate.?

Both boys are tempted by the ?Beast?, but while we see Jack succumb to his inner human desires and cross the line to brutality, Ralph resists temptation, although he finds it difficult. ?Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in. Ralph watched envious, and resentful.? Ralph knows that for the island to remain civilised he must not become what Jack has become. When Ralph first participates in a hunt he becomes excited. ?Ralph was full of fright and apprehension and pride. ?I hit him! The spear stuck in-?, but he realises that he would fail himself and the others if he gave into the ?Beast?. Jack and Ralph prove to be similar, both recognising their inner desires, but each handle the situation differently.

The rivalry that develops between Jack and Ralph, begins early in the novel, although it is subtle, and readers may believe it is typical behaviour of boys. The first insight in to their rivalry is when Ralph announces they should vote for a chief. It is obvious that Jack wants to be chief, but Ralph is chosen. ?The freckles on Jack?s face disappeared under a blush of mortification.? Jack now feels he must prove himself better than Ralph. The rivalry develops