4 November Power is one of the most fundamental themes of the novel Lord of the Flies. From the story, it can be inferred that people don’t respect power unless an individual earns it.
In the capacity of the chief, Ralph assumes more power than the rest, is entitled to formulate the laws and get others conform to them. Therefore, he calls a meeting. Ralph gains Jack’s consent for the establishment of rules. Jack says, “I agree with Ralph. We’ve got to have rules” (Golding 52). Ralph instructs the boys to build a fire upon the top of the mountain in order to attract the attention of the passers-by, but many of the boys find it too boring to do and instead get stuck in other businesses. Ralph calls an assembly to criticize the boys and appreciates the maturity displayed by Piggy. Nobody pays heed to Ralph despite his continued insistence upon the need for the build-up of fire upon the mountain’s top.
Ralph is not respected as the chief. At one occasion, Jack almost swings at Ralph when Ralph criticizes him for his disobedience. Principally, Ralph should be respected for being a leader, but everybody thinks like he is unnecessarily poking his nose in their businesses. “Ralph realized that the boys were falling still and silent, feeling the beginnings of awe at the power set free below them” (Golding 55). Eventually, Ralph is left with no option but to join the hunters. Ralph is also mocked by Jack for his reluctance to hunt. His attitude is interpreted as cowardice by Jack.
Jack provides boys with reasons to make him chief instead of Ralph. Critics may attribute Jack’s disobedience and disrespect towards Ralph to Jack’s aggressive nature, but even Piggy, who is shown to be the most intelligent and mature boy doesn’t quite trust Ralph when Ralph narrates to him that he saw the beast. As the plot progresses, more and more boys start to join Jack’s group and assume him as their chief because Jack not only offers them the meat of pig he and his group have hunted, but also allows them an opportunity to hunt with him and have a nice time. Jack makes the boys realize that Ralph treats them like kids. He says, “Ralph says ‘fire’ and you goes howling and screaming up this here mountain. Like a pack of kids!” (Golding 56). Boys feel more leveraged and comfortable in Jack’s company whereas Ralph expects them to do as he instructs them. Therefore, all but Piggy gradually divert towards Jack from Ralph. With Jack, they have shelter, meat, hunting and fun. Ultimately, Ralph is outcast. He hides here and there for the basic survival while Jack grows in respect and power.
Where there is respect, there is conformance, blind faith and trust. In Ralph’s case, he is awarded with none of these and the fundamental reason why this happens is that the boys have no good reason to deal Ralph as a leader. Therefore, although Ralph becomes the chief, yet he is denied the power associated with this rank. On the other hand, Jack understands and addresses the needs of the immature boys and hence gains power.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 1954. Print.