Lord of the Flies - Jack and Ralph

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

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 builds tension until

Jack and Ralph are on opposing sides, with Ralph standing for civilisation
and humanity, and Jack delving into the world of savagery and murder. The
gap between them becomes so strained that Jack feels his only option is
to kill Ralph. "They