Clash Of Opposites:
How Lord of the Flies Portrays the Endless Struggle

Between Two Different Types of Government

Many people have different views of government and who should decide what happens. Two conflicting views are democracy and autocracy. Many feel that it is better to make decisions collectively, as a group, while others opt for a single ruler who makes all the decisions. Lord of the Flies is a classic example of what happens when two people with very different views on government are forced to clash. Ralph and Jack have very dissimilar dispositions. They take completely different actions to get what they want. As well, they also have very different effects on the other boys on the island. For these reasons, I believe that the purpose of this book was the one stated.

Ralph is not aggressive. The book said that "there was a mildness around his mouth and eyes that proclaimed no devil." (pg. 5) Jack, even though not described physically in contrast to Ralph, kept telling people to shut up, or he interrupted them when they were trying to speak. "You're talking too much....Shut up, Fatty." (pg. 17) is an example of this. When the boys elected a chief, Jack just wanted to take the job. Ralph wanted an election instead. Jack strikes me as the take-charge type, the kind who just wants to get started and do something. Ralph, however, just takes the job he is given (chief) and accepts it. And once he has the job, he tries to act like he can do it, but nobody listens to him. They elected him because they thought he would be a pushover and let them do what they wanted.

Ralph's goal was, first and foremost, to get off the island. He knew they would stay there for a while, and so he realized they would have to make long-term plans, such as building huts and stoking the fire. He also decided to make up a set of rules in order to regulate life on the island. Jack, though, lived only for the moment. All he cared about was hunting and leading. Nothing was considered wrong to him. When things got bad, namely when Ralph and Jack fought over who was the better leader, Jack made up things about Ralph that weren't true. Ralph's rules were designed for the greater good, while Jack just wanted to have a good time. He also thinks he can get away with saying anything he likes about Ralph. "He's like Piggy. He says things like Piggy. He isn't a proper chief." (pg. 138)

Ralph tried to rule the boys in a fair way by letting them decide what to do within reason. That, under normal circumstances would have worked out well, but because they were all boys, a majority of them young ones, they couldn't possibly be mature enough to make wise decisions. They were so used to parents telling them what to do that they didn't know what to do when given a choice. All they wanted to do was enjoy themselves. Ralph was not an adult, so they didn't have to take him seriously. "I bet if I blew the conch this minute they'd come running.....when the meeting was over they'd work for five minutes then wander off or go hunting." (pg. 51) Jack struck fear into the hearts of the boys; fear of his wrath. He and Ralph, however, both commanded child-parent-like attention from them. Ralph was, though, a better parental figure as far as his actions and mentality were concerned.

When two people with very different mindsets approach the same problem, they have very opposite ways of solving it. The success of a solution depends not only on the person who attempts/proposes it, but also on their peers. It does, nevertheless, start with the leader. As they have no idea beforehand of what will result from their decisions, they can't possibly make choices that they know will work. In this case, it's especially true, since none of them know each other well enough so as to predict reactions to the solution. This problem is one faced by many governments, and clearly this book demonstrates the ever-ongoing conflict between the two sharply contrasting types of rule.