Lord of the flies Essay

Sides of A Leader.

What do humans value in a leader? Do Humans want somebody strong or weak? Does their character plays a role? The idea of a good leader varies from person to person. This was expressed in  William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. The main characters, Ralph and Jack, get into many arguments  about which of them are the better leader. They are polar opposites and butt head on every issue till the end of the book. Even though the leader has loyalty and control of their followers leaders will use force and fear to make other people change to their side because they cannot turn off the need to conquer everything.

In the book, a group of english boys crash land on an island where they are the only people there but island has plenty of fruit and pigs for them to eat. After evaluating their circumstances they elected Ralph for leader of the group. Jack did not like this, believing that he should be leader thus starting off the rivalry between Jack and Ralph. To accommodate Jacks uneasiness with not being leader Ralph made Jack captain of the hunters. This kept little balance. While Ralph was in charge, the boys didn’t do much work or keep up on the island. It was mainly Ralph and Piggy ( a nice kid who stood by Ralph since the beginning) doing work, building huts for the littluns, and keeping up the signal fire so they can signal any ships passing by so they could be rescued. Most of the boys were focused on a “monster.” There was no real monster, it just a personification of the boys imagination and fear. Jack decides making the monster top priority and needs to be hunted down. The believers of the monster join his crusade leaving Ralph who isn’t really worried about the monster and just wants to get off the island. Eventually all the kids have been persuaded or tortured to join Jack's tribe leaving Ralph and Piggy to survive on their own.

When the kids left Ralph to follow Jack in his savage ways it lead to the idea of switching sides and what makes people want to switch sides. After doing research, an article about switching sides came up. Most of theses ideas came from a book called “Nudges” by Richard H. Thaler, PhD, and Cass R. Sunstein, JD.The authors study behavioral science. The article says that two main tactics for switching one’s side is lying or torturing. Lying is like persuading. It's a way to convince people that they have what they want or joining they side is at their best interest. Torture is more of a force. They use tactic to force them onto their side. Making fear and pain their persuaders.

In chapter 8, the boys divides into two groups. Jack was leader of one of these groups and he ruled with an iron fist. He left Ralph because they had completely different views on how they should survive on the Island. He gets tired of Ralph’s ways, he says,” I’m not going to be apart of Ralphs lot-- I’m going off by myself. He can catch pigs on his own. Anyone who wants to hunt when I do can come too.”(27) His group started off with just the kids from choir and a few others but it grew. The boys started to realize that Jacks way was more prosperous and more fun. What he said  before he stormed off was a way persuasive talking. To the other boys he’s the only one who knows how to actually hunt. He also gave them a choice. When they first came to the island they made Ralph leader and that was it, now they can choose Ralph or Jack. Choice gives people a sense of power so now they may follow him because of the things that Jack has to offer. It was up to them to choose their own path and leader. After he gives them the choice, those who didn’t join over time were forced to join. There was a point in chapter 11 where all the boys joined Jack's tribe except a few including Ralph and Piggy. The tribe took Piggy’s glasses to make fire leaving poor Piggy blind. So for Piggy and to make their own fire the remaining members of team Ralph travel up to Castle Rock to retrieve Piggy’s glasses. When they get there the Tribe is hostile and Jack and Ralph get into an argument that turns into a fist fight in the midst of it Piggy gets pushed off a cliff side by a boulder and dies. Ralph runs for his life and those of team Ralph who stayed were tortured into joining the tribe, “ You got to Join the tribe.”(182) Now they are using force and fear. This tactic is used when words don’t influence others. Jack has all the boys that were easily persuaded now he needs the ones who need a nudge to join his side. A leader who has used fear in the past is Ivan the Terrible. He was a darranged leader. A wiki site described him as “intelligent and devout, yet given to rages and prone to episodic outbreaks of mental instability”. The fact that one minute Ivan was chill and sensible and the next he could be angry and sentence his followers to death scared people. As a servant to Ivan they would never know where they stood. That’s a scary thought knowing that one slip up could be your life. So in fear the people, of Moscow kept quiet and followed Ivan without question. This shows that fear is a strong controlling factor and leaders use it to control followers and demand loyalty amongst them.

When Ralph was leader, this wasn’t the case. Ralph was chosen to be leader because he had charisma and a plan. Ralph came out the plan barking orders. It was Ralph’s idea to blow a conch that would signal to the boys for them to meet up. Ralph wasn’t good leader just because of his ideas he also had charisma. Charisma is compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others. But after reading that definition it can be said that he had limited charisma because he could only get a few boys to actually do work and after a while he lost the boys devotion and they changed sides. As time went on Ralph no longer had what the boys wanted in their leader.

That’s the thing with leadership. The moment the leader no longer has or is what his followers want, his people want a change and sometimes that means a new leader. Jack went on his own because he believed that he would make a better chief. A better leader. He convinced  and forced the boys to join him and prove that his leadership is the best. The boys fell for the two main ways of coaxing one's thoughts. Persuading and force. They were young so it was easier. If they were older, more force would have been involved. So what makes people switch sides  is a change their mindset or an overwhelming force that's more controlling than their mindset. If the leader can scare them into the other side, fear of the leader will make that side the better choice, against their better judgement. A great way to control a group is by using fear, but it is not always the best way. Lord of The Flies was a great example of what fear can do to a person.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_the_Terrible

  • Wikipedia

  • Ivan the Terrible

  • April 06, 2018

2. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/12/cover-coaxing.aspx

  • Monitor on Psychology

  • April 07, 2018

3. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/05/charismatic-leaders.aspx

  • American Psychological Association

  • April 07, 2018

Comments (3)

Niya Petty (Student 2020)
Niya Petty

You explain how these two "leaders" don't meet the critical role of being a leader in both cases and how some who had to obey those leaders were forces upon their will. This is what causes fear in a person as you explained. This can be solved by taking your own stand and stepping up in this case to the people who you fear and how their job of being a "leader" is not well.

Shaheed Williams (Student 2020)
Shaheed Williams

I learned that humans have the need to conquer, to accomplish conquering they need a group of individuals to follow them. To prevent this lust of conquering, there should be an understanding between everybody.

Diamond Wallace (Student 2020)
Diamond Wallace

In this essay, I learned that if a leader does not meet all of the qualities the people want, they will simply stop listening and attempt to overthrow his authority in exchange for a new leader. This behavior could be avoided if everyone learned how to adapt to the teachings and power of every leader who ever became one. Unfortunately, that will never happen because people have preferences on who is leading their lifestyle.