How does Golding present his characters in the opening chapter? Essay
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Ralph is the first character to be introduced; he is introduced as being ‘the boy with fair hair’. Here Golding has played with the idea of Hitlers ideal, fair hair, blue eyes, etc. to show that Ralph has a seemingly perfect physique. His fair hair also shows that Ralph is a seemingly good character, because the idea of his hair being light in color contrasts any boy who has dark hair. This is a very conventional way of representing characters which is used due to the time in which Golding was writing; nowadays writers would try to stray away from this idea.
One of the first actions which Ralph performs is to pull up his socks; this symbolizes the idea that he still retains the rules and regulations of being in a school environment. When Piggy places his trust in Ralph, Ralph uses this to gain the respect and friendship of Jack. This suggests, along with him being voted as chief and the way he handles Piggy when he confronts him about his nickname, that he is the politician of the group. Ralph is quite immature in the way he expresses joy, standing on his head, which suggests that he is not the most adequate leader. He is also not as intelligent as Piggy and without Piggys help with the Conch he could have never become Chief.
Piggy is introduced as ‘it’ then the ‘voice’ and then ‘fat boy’. His physical body is also unattractive he is the fat boy or ‘Fatty’. He is introduced this way so that we immediately dislike him, and take the side of the other boys who bully him. Later on in the chapter we realize Piggys importance, he is always right, so when Ralph suggests they will be rescued soon and Piggy believes that they won’t, we know that they will not be rescued soon. Although we know that the ridiculing of Piggy is a natural thing for boys to do we still blame the boys for doing it as we believe we would not do the same. When Piggy meets with Ralph Piggy immediately offers Ralph friendship by asking his name, but Ralph rejects Piggy because of his appearance, as we would expect.
But Piggy continues to place trust in Ralph as he does not want to be the social misfit which he is used to being, as suggested by his continual mentioning of his Auntie which suggests a sheltered home life. He places his trust in Ralph by firstly telling him his nick name and secondly by exposing himself to Ralph. As revenge Piggy does all that he can, he with holds his vote for Ralph for a short period when the vote for chief is occurring. This expresses his anger. Piggy asks everybody’s name as it gives him some security and allows him to enter a social group, but only the younger children tell him their names as they do not see him with the same prejudice and so look up to him as a ‘bigger boy’. But when Jack arrives Piggy is intimidated, because of Jack’s appearance and authority. He shows this by cowering behind Ralph, which also expresses his respect and trust in Ralph.
Jack is introduced as “the boy who controlled them”. Jack looks smart and impressive and so Ralph wants to become his friend. When Jack informs us of his name he tells the group that he wishes to be called Merridew. This is because this is the name which he has been called at school and been held in high regard allowing him to have authority, but what he does not yet realize is that his ‘title’ means nothing now. Ralph on the other hand is happy with his identity and so doesn’t mind being called Ralph.
Jack is a stereotypical bully which explains why Ralph is intimidated by him. He shouts, orders, and is usually aggressive. Jack is used to being in control and so when he joins the group he automatically tries to take control. However when it comes to the vote, only the people in the choir who still respect his authority, unwillingly vote for him. When Ralph is voted to be chief, Jack is mortified, but Ralph realizes that Jack could be a powerful ally and so consoles him by offering the title of Hunter. This gives Jack some authority outside of the choir and gives him the chance to undermine everything which Ralph says.