In William Golding’s, Lord of the Flies, Golding tells the story of a group of boys who find themselves stranded on an island and have to learn to fend for themselves In the duration of their time there, they managed to simultaneously create and destroy a functional society. In the real world, we often see similar situations play out. In revolutionary movements, the leader is what represents the focus. When that leader is lost, their followers lose their focus and stray to the wrong path.
Martin Luther King is one of the most well known African Americans in the Civil Rights movement. He led a number of protests and created a lot of milestones in black history during his life. However, his time as a leader was at times difficult. In 1963, King was imprisoned after ignoring an injunction against protesting. After spending so much time in jail, the separation from his followers caused a lot of uneasiness and doubt. In Adam Fairclough’s - a British historian-, To Redeem the Soul of America, Fairclough recounts a scene in which King was speaking to a crowd. Fairclough writes, “Attendance at the mass meetings was higher than ever, but the stream of volunteers for jail had dwindled to a trickle. Kunstler watched in dismay as both King and Abernathy exhorted a packed church for an hour in order to persuade a dozen people to volunteer." In other words, because King was in jail for such an extended amount of time, his followers began to lose their energy and doubt the power behind his demonstration. From this example we can tell that passion and execution go hand in hand - one can feel as strongly as they want about something, but if there is no execution plan, that emotion has no outlet.
In this scene, Ralph is frustrated by the lack of motivation on part of the boys and decides to confront them about it. Golding writes, “‘I was talking about smoke! Don’t you want to be rescued? All you can talk about is pig, pig, pig!’ ‘But we want meat!’ ‘And I work all day with nothing but Simon and you come back and don’t even notice the huts!’”(54) In other words, Ralph feels as though he is doing all the heavy work with lack of support and aid from the ones who claim to stand behind him. This is important because as a leader, one of the easier parts is lighting a fire in the heart of those who look up to you. However, it can be increasingly difficult to have those people keep up their energy and consistently provide you with the aid you need. When Ralph invested trust in the younger boys of the island, he expected them to keep their word and aspire to the various goals they had set, such as hunting and setting rules and efficiently keeping the fire alive for rescue. However, their priorities became solely focused on the hunting, which further proves how important it is for a leader to be present to keep the central focus on par.
In Michael Dyson’s, I May Not Get There With You, Dyson recounts the experience of hearing of Martin Luther King’s death and what it was like for him as a young African American. Dyson writes, “But even that seismic event [referring to the 1967 Detroit riot], as riveting and as local as it was, failed to capture my attention the way King’s death did. The bullet that shattered King’s jaw ended his life; it’s shrapnel lodged deep in my psyche and burned me awake to race in America.” In other words, a group of followers can do as many demonstrations and acts of protests as they wish, but the leader has the biggest impact on the public (at least, in this case.) Dyson explains that his eyes were not opened to the issue surrounding him until he heard MLK’s moving speech. This emphasizes the importance of the voice of a leader. Majority of the most known leaders in the world are praised for their motivational speaking abilities and possessing powerful voices that people remember for years. King’s I Have a Dream Speech was and is so popular not just for the content and meaning behind the speech, but the power in which he spoke with. As a leader, it is crucial to be able to have power and know how to police it effectively and successfully.
In the middle of the book, Ralph, Simon and Piggy have diverged from the group, unknowingly allowing Jack to to climb up the hierarchy of the island. Golding writes, “‘I’ll blow the conch’, said Ralph breathlessly, ‘and call an assembly.’ ‘[Jack] We shan’t hear it.’”(151) In other words, Jack, angling for control of the group, immediately rejects Ralph’s efforts at reuniting the group because Ralph, the previous leader, removed himself from the eyes of the public. In reference to the real world example, this scene from the book represents what happens when the leader loses their voice and all their power along with it. Jack denying Ralph’s request is the beginning of their unity as a group breaking apart and causing further issues in the future. In the beginning, the conch shell was the centerpiece of their morals; it represented control, respect, and unity. However, now that Ralph has lost his power over the boys, everything he stands for has no power. Even though Ralph did not discover the conch himself, the conch had become a way for him to wield his power. To contrast, in the beginning of Lord of the Flies, Jack and Ralph’s roles as leaders were clear. The younger boys respected them and they respected each other, making it easy to keep order. However, as the book progressed and their roles started to blur because of Ralph’s isolation, cooperation became more difficult to achieve and Ralph lost much of his power.By analyzing the role of leadership in fictional novel Lord of the Flies and the real world occurrence of Martin Luther King’s leadership, we can see that leaders are necessary for a variety of reasons. Leaders provide their followers with a sense of stability and prevent the central focus of their movement from stray away from its true self. Without leaders, there is no direction which leads to the passion of the followers being inevitably misguided.