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Ralph, Jack and Piggy all possess unique qualities. Are any of them ideal leaders? What important qualities do each of them possess (and lack) as regards leadership?
Who is the natural leader in Lord of the Flies? This is the question that Golding is making us consider. There is no right or wrong answer, as all of the boys possess unique leadership qualities. This essay will explore what qualities of leadership Ralph, Piggy and Jack possess (and lack), and eventually come to a conclusion (if one can be found) as to which boy is the natural leader of the band of boys on the island.
A leader is somebody who guides a group in whatever they do. They make policies, rules and, if necessary, decisions for the group that they lead, which the group should then follow.
Ralph has a number of ideal leadership qualities. He is fair, maybe sometimes too fair, and believes in the idea of everyone having a chance to have their say ("'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. Except by me.'" ) However, the rule of freedom of speech is overturned by Jack ("Jack was the first to make himself heard. He had not got the conch and thus spoke against the rules, but nobody minded." ) and Ralph does not do anything about it.
This is one of the qualities that Ralph lacks. He makes rules, but is not willing to enforce them because he fears that they may be ignored ("'You got to be tough now, make 'em do what you want.
' 'If I blow the conch and they don't come back, then we've had it'" ) unless something happens to spur him to action, such as when Jack let the fire out ("So Ralph asserted his chieftainship and could not have chosen a better way if he had thought for days. Against this weapon, so indefinable and so effective, Jack was powerless and raged without knowing why" )
Ralph believes in everyone having responsibility and everyone working together and helping each other to build a successful community. He offers the groups long term solutions such as shelters and a signal fire so that they would be rescued, however, he does not do enough to make these ideas attractive, and as a result he ends up doing most of the work while the hunters and littluns disappear to have fun ("And they keep running off. You remember the meeting?
How everyone was going to work hard until the shelters were finished?", "When the meeting was over they'd work for five minutes then wander off or go hunting." ) This lack of acceptance of responsibility annoys him and makes him hostile ("As they danced, they sang. Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in. Ralph watched them, envious and resentful." ) towards Jack and the hunters. As a result, he is not as tolerant of them as he should have been and eventually insults that part of the group ("'What above my hunters?' 'Boys armed with sticks.'" ) This makes Jack angry enough to attempt to rebel against Ralph's leadership, and straight after he leaves to start a tribe of his own.
He is very good at communication. He says what he thinks rather than trying to hide his own opinions and feelings ("'Better Piggy than Fatty,' Ralph said with the directness of genuine leadership.", "I was chief, and you were going to do what I said. You talk. But you can't even build huts-then you go off hunting and let out the fire-" [21/22]) This is essential, because if you do not let others know your feelings, then they will not understand why you are acting the way you are, or your reasons for making decisions, and might think you are being unreasonable.
He can make his speeches simple for the littluns to understand, yet powerful by using repetition and explanation ("He had learnt as a practical business that fundamental statements likes this had to be said at least twice, before everyone understood them...His mind was searching for simple words so that even the littluns would understand what the assembly was about." ) However, as events spiral out of his control, his speeches become less and less inspiring as he loses confidence in himself and his abilities, and eventually his followers desert him and he is left on his own, running for his life.
Though Ralph is a natural leader ("There was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out...and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had blown that...was set apart" ), able to reassure and offer comfort ("The assembly was lifted towards safety by his words. They liked and now respected him." ), the values and goals that he presents as part of his leadership do not offer the security that the group needs when their morale is low as a result of fear of the beast.
As a result, he is only able to lead when times are good. He clings to the same ideals that he had when he first came to the island: the idea of rescue, keeping civilisation intact and having rules, and is unable to adapt to the changing feelings on the island about those ideals when they are overtaken by more immediate and attractive offers ("'Because the rules are the only thing we've got!' 'Bollocks to the rules! We're strong - we hunt! If there's a beast, we'll hunt it down! We'll close in and beat and beat and beat-!'" )
Piggy supports Ralph in his leadership, but does not have the popularity to be a leader himself. He possesses a number of leadership qualities, but because of his unpopularity, he is often ignored ("There had grown up tacitly among the biguns the opinion that Piggy was an outsider, not only by accent, which did not matter, but by fat, and ass-mar, and specs, and a certain disinclination for manual labour." )
Because of this, when important matters needing his input occur, his valuable ideas are often disregarded ("'We ought to be more careful. I'm scared-' 'You're always scared. Yah - Fatty!'" ) He is intelligent, and most of the sensible, good ideas come from him ("what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy..." [18/19] "Ralph! We can use this [the conch] to call the others. Have a meeting."  "Piggy moved among the crowd, asking names and frowning to remember them."  "We haven't made a fire what's any use. We couldn't keep a fire like that going if we tried."  "The first thing we ought to have made was shelters down on the beach." )
He is also a very good judge of character, though he seems blind when it comes to seeing that the others, Ralph included, do not like him ("He hates me [Jack]. I dunno why. If he could do what he wanted - you're all right, he respects you...I tell you what. He hates you too, Ralph...He can't hurt you, but if you stand out of the way he'd hurt the next thing. And that's me." [100/101) However, his pessimism ("They're all dead an' this is an island. Nobody don't know we're here. Your dad don't know, nobody don't know - We may stay here till we die." ), his complaining and his dislike of manual labour leads to the other boys regarding him as being no use to the group, so they shout him down whenever he tries to speak ("His voice lifted into the whine of virtuous recrimination.
The others stirred and began to shout him down." ) If Piggy and Ralph had worked together right at the beginning, with Ralph listening to Piggy's ideas instead of regarding him as an irritation ("Piggy was a bore; his fat, his ass-mar and his matter-of-fact ideas were dull: but there was always a little pleasure to be got out of pulling his leg, even if one did it by accident." ), then Piggy's intelligence and Ralph's popularity and dedication to work would have combined to make an excellent joint leadership which most of the group would have accepted.
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