In William Golding's novel "Lord of the Flies," Ralph is portrayed as the protagonist who struggles to maintain order and morality on an uninhabited island after a plane crash leaves a group of boys stranded. However, as the novel progresses, Ralph's actions are called into question, leading readers to question his morality.
At the beginning of the novel, Ralph is introduced as a responsible and rational leader who is elected as the chief by the group of boys. He tries to establish order on the island by creating rules and assigning duties to the boys. He also prioritizes the safety and rescue of the boys and takes measures to signal passing ships for rescue. However, as the boys' situation on the island becomes more dire, Ralph's actions become increasingly questionable.
One of the key instances that call Ralph's morality into question is his treatment of Piggy, a boy with glasses who is constantly bullied and ostracized by the other boys. Ralph initially shows sympathy towards Piggy and tries to protect him, but as the novel progresses, he becomes more dismissive and even cruel towards him. For instance, when Piggy suggests using the conch shell to call a meeting, Ralph belittles him and questions his intelligence. This behavior is particularly disturbing given that Ralph is supposed to be the leader of the group and should be setting an example of kindness and respect.
Another instance where Ralph's morality is questioned is his role in Simon's death. When a group of boys mistake Simon for the "beast," they brutally beat him to death. While Ralph is not directly responsible for Simon's death, he is complicit in the culture of violence that leads to it. He participates in the frenzied dance that precedes Simon's death, and he even admits to feeling a "savage" desire to join in. This suggests that Ralph, like the other boys, is capable of succumbing to the primal urges that lead to violence and brutality.
In addition to his treatment of Piggy and his complicity in Simon's death, Ralph's actions also raise questions about his commitment to morality. As the boys' situation on the island becomes more dire, Ralph becomes increasingly desperate to maintain his leadership and power. He even goes so far as to physically attack Jack, another boy vying for leadership, in order to assert his dominance. This behavior shows that Ralph is more concerned with maintaining his authority than with upholding morality and justice.
Despite these instances that call Ralph's morality into question, it is important to note that he is not a completely immoral character. Throughout the novel, he struggles to maintain order and morality on the island, even when faced with opposition from other boys. He recognizes the importance of establishing rules and taking measures to ensure the safety of the group. Additionally, his initial treatment of Piggy and his attempts to signal passing ships for rescue demonstrate his compassion and sense of responsibility.
In conclusion, Ralph's actions in "Lord of the Flies" are complex and often call his morality into question. While he initially demonstrates a commitment to order and morality, his treatment of Piggy, complicity in Simon's death, and desperation to maintain his leadership raise concerns about his true character. However, it is important to recognize that he is not a completely immoral character and that his struggles on the island highlight the fragility of morality in extreme situations. The novel serves as a warning about the dangers of succumbing to primal urges and the importance of upholding morality, even in the face of adversity.
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