Lord of the Flies

Chapter 2

In chapter 2, Ralph is trying to put together some sort of government, how do you think it's working?


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In the novel's second chapter, Golding uses the progress of the boys on the island as a metaphor for early human development. The boys' first achievement on the island is to build a fire, which like the conch shell brings the entire group of boys together in awe and wonder. According to Piggy, the next step should be for the boys to build some sort of shelter, again a mirror of the historical development of early human society. The "government" established by Ralph also develops during this chapter. Golding uses these developments to signal that the island is becoming a society with rules that mirror Western democratic culture. The conch shell, which authorizes its holder to speak and is available to all, is a particular symbol of the ideal of democratic freedom and equality. But, since Ralph decides who gets possession of the conch, the freedoms of the island are decided by authority. Though Ralph is a benevolent leader, the implication here is that democracy still depends on its leaders for justice.

Ralph takes a rational perspective based on ideas of justice: the rules will allow the boys to live fairly with one another, a belief that fits well with his democratic sensibility. He is a calming, authoritative presence among the boys. When fear sets in among some of the younger boys, only Ralph has the presence to restore order and hope. Ralph is established here not only as a political leader but also as a parental figure whose job is to reassure the scared boys and protect them from their own fears and doubts.

As you can see, initially, Ralph's plan seems to be accepted among the boys, except for Jack, who has other priorities. As time goes on, the other boys will follow Jack's lead, and Ralph's hierarchy will come to an end.