Lord of the Flies/Characters

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Ralph

Ralph is among the oldest of the boys, at twelve and a few months, and has an air of strength about him. He acts as the initial leader figure and organizes the boys into some semblance of society. He wants the good for the tribe, but is often confused, because unlike Jack or Roger, he has a sense of morality from society. He is often considered part of a triad with Piggy and Simon. Ralph is the athletic, charismatic protagonist of Lord of the Flies. Elected the leader of the boys at the beginning of the novel, Ralph is the primary representative of order, civilization, democracy, and productive leadership in the novel. While most of the other boys initially are concerned with playing, having fun, and avoiding work, Ralph sets about building huts and thinking of ways to maximize the chances of all the boys. Ralph remains determined not to let this savagery overwhelm him, and only briefly does he consider joining Jack’s tribe in order to save himself. When Ralph hunts a boar for the first time, however, he experiences the exhilaration and thrill of bloodlust and violence. When he attends Jack’s feast, he is swept away by the frenzy, dances on the edge of the group, and participates in the killing of Simon. This firsthand knowledge of the evil that exists within him, as within all human beings, is tragic for Ralph, and it plunges him into listless despair for a time. But this knowledge also enables him to cast down the Lord of the Flies at the end of the novel. Ralph’s story ends semi-tragically: although he is rescued and returned to civilization, when he sees the naval officer, he weeps with the burden of his new knowledge about the human capacity for evil.

Jack Merridew

Jack was the leader of the choir at the boys' old school and competes with Ralph for the position of "alpha male" on the island. Jack was described as dark, a creature, and controlling, rather than leading, the choir. This is evident from in chapter 1 when he is first introduced. He is the leader of the hunters and fights Ralph. Eventually, more and more of the boys defect from Ralph's ordered society to Jack's tribal one and turn against Ralph, Piggy and Simon. In short, Jack is the exact opposite of Ralph. From the beginning of the novel, Jack desires power above all other things, and he carries a large knife as a symbol of this. He is furious when he loses the election to Ralph and continually pushes the boundaries of his subordinate role in the group and continually bullies Piggy (first by calling him names then later punching him). Early on, Jack retains the sense of moral propriety and behavior that society instilled in him—in fact, in school, he was the leader of the choirboys. The first time he encounters a pig, he is unable to kill it. But Jack soon becomes obsessed with hunting and devotes himself to the task, painting his face like a barbarian and giving himself over to bloodlust. The more savage Jack becomes, the more he is able to control the rest of the group. Indeed, apart from Ralph, Simon, and Piggy, the group largely follows Jack in casting off moral restraint and embracing violence and savagery. Jack's love of authority and violence are intimately connected, as both enable him to feel powerful and exalted. By the end of the novel, Jack has learned to use the boys' fear of the beast to control their behavior—a reminder of how religion and superstition can be manipulated as instruments of power. The extent to which he controls his tribe can be seen when he beats one of his tribe member and the other boys do not object. Jack is used by Golding to represent fascism.

Piggy

Piggy is a fat, shy twelve-year-old boy who has asthma; he is the only one who knows how to correctly pronounce asthma. The other boys on the island pronounce it as "ass-mar". Piggy wears "specs". Piggy is not his real name (that is never revealed) but instead a nickname given to him by his schoolmates to tease him. In the book, he represents maturity, civilization, science, intellect, clear-sightedness, and an adult figure. Piggy has no social skill thanks to his aunt (he lives with her) that didn't let him play outside because of his asthma. Most of the boys have shaggy, long hair by the end of the novel. Piggy is the only character whose hair has not grown. It is also important to look at Piggy's s dialect; his English is less formal than the other boys. He uses double negatives to tell the reader the "truth" about things, for example, Piggy says, "there ain't no fear" and "there ain't no beast" implying that there is fear and the beast does exist. He is whiny, but the smartest of the boys. He is often considered part of a triad with Ralph and Simon. He is first described as a voice, and he remains the voice of reason throughout the book. Piggy's specs also symbolize knowledge and scientific hope, once stolen by Jack they become part of the struggle for power and control of the fire. Piggy is a tragic figure, the same age as Ralph and by all accounts considerably smarter yet his physical deficiencies separate him from the others. He is vilified, especially by Jack, for not helping, whining and generally being unhelpful but he is the intelligence behind the democracy that is set up. His death signals the final end of the democracy and his 'empty-head' as it splits on the rocks the end of rational thought. Piggy is the most intellectual of the boys.

Simon

Simon is a calm, passive boy who claims no leadership or intelligence, but shows a wisdom beyond his years as he is the only character to realize that the beast is imaginary. He may be an epileptic. In addition, it is important to note that in earlier human history, people with epilepsy were seen as having greater religious powers or some type of connection to a higher or greater power. He is the Jesus-like figure in the story, and his meeting with the Lord of the Flies and his subsequent death could be considered equal to certain events in the Bible (Jesus' temptation by Satan and subsequent crucifixion). Simon helps the littluns gather fruit in the forest, just as Christ cared for the children. He is often considered part of a triad with Ralph and Piggy. As is a repeated theme in the book, Simon, an important character, has an important message which no one listens to. He then dies and thus nobody hears his crucial message. This contradicts the parallel to Jesus a bit since Jesus death changed the world while Simon's did not (since his message was not heard). He is sometimes said to be the only boy in the novel with natural good in him, the others having only have goodness imprinted on to them by society. Simon also holds the key to their salvation, the knowledge, that they hear from him, that the beast is no more than a dead man. He holds the key to removing Jack from any position of power and is murdered for it (though it can be disputed that the murder was more of a savage instinct since Ralph participated in it as well). He is further linked with religious or spiritual symbols in the novel when, after he dies, his body floats out to sea and is ringed by phosphorescent sea creatures which form a sort of "halo" around his head and body. He is martyred for the cause of truth. He is also continually linked with images of light, nature and beauty throughout the novel.

Roger

Roger is the individual we never know a lot about - Golding keeps his character hidden. He is mysterious like Jack, and is mindless to the consequences of his actions. He follows the group and acts on their behalf. He becomes Jack's right hand man. While Jack is more of a Hitler Figure, Roger seems to become more like a Himmler figure, in charge of creating fear, without being conscious of the immorality of his actions. He is overcome by the evils of the island, or himself. He represents clearly the example of humans and their destruction of each other. He also represents sadism, bloodlust and cruelty to the extreme. Roger is the only boy on the island who is described as "dark" while the other boys become "dark" as they succumb to their savage nature. He is the only character to knowingly kill someone on his own i.e. Piggy, Roger used smaller rocks at first to aim at some little'uns and then let the big boulder go which sadly ended Piggy.

Sam and Eric

Sam and Eric (or Samneric) are identical twins, while on the island, they lose their identity. They are the most obvious example of loss of innocence. They represent society. They are easily manipulated, as seen with Jack. They were actually very supportive of Ralph, but were forced to join Jack later after Roger tortured them. When they are guarding Castle Rock, Ralph talks to them and asks them to join him, saying that the three of them would stand a chance. Samneric do not agree saying that Ralph didn't know Roger. "He is a terror". This is the point in the novel where Ralph realizes that he is completely alone.

The Hunters

The hunters are the group of boys under the direction of Jack on the island. They were part of the choir boys at the private school. They eventually become the tribe on the island, suffering much under Jack's leadership. They also show the degeneration of the island civilization, turning from the 'choir' to the 'hunters' and finally to the 'savages'. They may be seen to represent the military in time of war and are certainly violent in nature and unreasonable in outlook. The most notable hunters are Roger and Maurice. Maurice isn't as loyal to Jack as Roger but he is more friendly and good with the littluns. These are the people that Ralph sees as "shadows" walking down the beach. this foreshadows them becoming savages at the end of the novel.

The Littluns

The littluns are the smaller boys on the island that only care for having fun and nothing more. They represent the plebeians and masses who are swayed from one leader to another, but are required by a leader to rule over. It could be argued that Golding uses them to demonstrate the masses' apathy of politics, as the littluns are more interested in falling off a log at meetings than in contributing their ideas. They also don't really have a very constructive role in the island society. They are the ones that bring the Beastie to life after talking about it so much. They live their lives in the day eating fruit, and at night, having nightmares about how the Beastie is going to eat them. Golding also uses the littluns to demonstrate how the boys are attracted to power; Henry and Johnny watched "with china-blue eyes" as Maurice and Roger make Percival cry, then "Johnny was left in triumphant possession of the castles, He sat there, crooning to himself and throwing sand at an imaginary Percival." Henry "became absorbed beyond mere happiness as he felt himself exercising control over living things. He talked to [the transparencies], urging them, ordering them....they were trapped and gave him the illusion of mastery"