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Leadership in Lord of the Flies

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James Tickner

on 17 March 2013

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Transcript of Leadership in Lord of the Flies

Leadership in Lord of the Flies Leadership: the process in which one person can rely on and organise a group of people in order to accomplish a common task. Ralph is chosen for the position of chief by all of the boys apart from the choir, who vote for Jack in an act of "dreary obedience". The boys gravitate towards Ralph as he is the one who called them with the conch, "partly because Ralph blew it and he was big enough to be a link with the adult world of authority". Ralph was also attractive, well built and he had "a mildness about him that proclaimed no devil". He is, at the beginning of the novel, the most respectable character. What positive leadership qualities does Ralph possess? Ralph Golding writes that the intellectual Piggy was the most obvious choice but, because of his weight and accent, he was "no leader". Piggy does want to be chief, but votes for Ralph over Jack upon realising he has no chance of winning. Jack Jack is a dictator, and rules his tribe with an iron fist. He uses fear and punishment to maintain order. Whereas Ralph was elected, Jack simply declares himself leader of his tribe, "We'll hunt. I'm going to be chief". He has a sense of entitlement, borne out of his days as head chorister.

"He's not a hunter. He'd never have 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 for nothing". Ralph has a far greater focus on the boys' common goal: escape. He says, "the best thing we can do is get ourselves rescued". He understands the importance of keeping the fire burning, unlike Jack. This single-minded approach increases the likelihood of rescue and is of far greater benefit to the group than Jack's desire to, "have fun". Ralph, strangely for a young person, is able to think "long-term". Ralph defends Piggy, the weakest member of the group, and listens to his advice which shows his fair-mindedness. Though Ralph at first disliked Piggy he comes to tolerate him and appreciates the usefulness of his intellect. This is in contrast to Jack's attitude, who can only see his weaknesses. Ralph is the only survivor who didn't descend into savagery. Apart from one lapse, when he joins in the killing of Simon, he keeps his humanity. He is ashamed of his actions, and contests Piggy's assertion that, "we done a murder". What negative leadership qualities does Ralph possess? Ralph's tribe is the one that collapses, not Jack's. It is possible that being a fair leader is not synonymous with being a good leader. Ralph's fairness could also have played a role in his downfall. Listening to others, and not making major decisions by himself, he could have been viewed as weakness by the other boys By taking on the masculine tribal role of hunter-gatherer, Jack presents himself to the other boys as brave and strong. This is extended by his promise to protect them from the beast rather than deny its existence. His prior inability to kill a pig shows that he is not entirely evil, like Roger, merely flawed. Jack is undeniably a cruel leader, but that doesn't mean he was a bad one. He may have done it for selfish reasons but he does provide the hungry group with meat. When he creates his own tribe they construct a fort in less time than it took Ralph to build the huts on the beach. Jack's tribe is much more united than Ralph's and endures until the end of the novel. Jack is inconsiderate of the feelings of others and is dismissive of the weak, for example when he says to Piggy, "shut up, fatty". Unlike Ralph he does not listen to others, " it's time some people knew they've got to keep quiet and leave deciding things to the rest of us". He also brings fear and disorder to the group when discussing the beast. Rather than join Ralph in denying its existence he says it may exist, but that he will kill it. He uses the littluns' fear as an opportunity to undermine Ralph and seek glory for himself. Jack cares more about his ego than the welfare of the boys. He is more determined to make up for failing to kill the pig than he is to be rescued. After promising to keep the fire alight, he abandons it and allows it to be extinguished, resulting in a passing ship not seeing the boys. Jack is not sorry for this, and only apologises to belittle Ralph. Jack is used to being in the right and winning; this is why he wants to be leader. He wishes to be in charge for the sake of being in charge, not because he thinks his leadership would increase the likelihood of rescue. The joy Jack finds in leadership is shown when he insists that two members of his tribe say, "The Chief has spoken". Jack dominates a tribe, Ralph is the figurehead of a community. Ralph is too trusting, and judged everyone by his own fair standards. This can lead to him delegating tasks to inappropriate people. It is obvious to the reader that Jack is preoccupied with killing a pig and that he cannot be trusted with the most important job on the island: keeping the fire burning. It is at least partly Ralph's fault that the boys weren't rescued sooner. "Better Piggy than Fatty", he said...with the directness of genuine leadership".
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