Cultural Assumption: Leadership

In the novel lord of the flies I have noticed a cultural assumption that the fitter and richer you are, the better leader you are.

Ralph is athletic, charismatic, tall, blonde haired, blue eyed boy and was made by William Golding to be 'the perfect human', At the start of the book he is one of the first two boys you meet. After all of the boys on the island are together they have a meeting on who the leader should be, and they vote that Ralph should be the leader just because he blew the conch (the shell that sounds like a horn) when in actual fact it was Piggy who found the conch and told Ralph how to use it, and he is given no recognition for this.

When Ralph is laying down the rules and Ralph decides they should build a signal fire everybody runs off immediately to do as he says without any thinking. but when they get all the firewood together in a pile, and then they realize, Ralph doesn't know how to start a fire, and when they do start a fire, they find that it is just a flame and there isn't enough smoke so then somebody comes up with the idea to put green leaves on the fire to make smoke. Once they get the fire burning and smoking, Piggy explains how it is almost dark and they should have been building shelters instead of making a signal fire, for people wouldn't be able to see the smoke at night anyway and how they don’t have their priorities straight. This shows that Ralph isn't the best leader for the group, because he doesn't really know what he is doing, and someone like Piggy would be better suited as leader, but nobody listens to Piggy because he isn't fit, and isn't the kind of person they want as their leader.

In one part of the book Ralph sees a naval vessel go past on the horizon but to his shock the signal fire had been burnt out and the boys on the island went by unnoticed by the ship. When the hunters arrive Ralph yells at Jack because it was his job and the hunters to keep the signal fire going. Ralph gathers the group for a meeting about the issue, but it was disbanded quite quickly and Jacks group only really cared about killing pigs. This shows that Ralph lacks the leadership skills needed to take care of the group, and eventually everyone except Piggy leaves Ralph's side and joins with Jack. This again shows that just because you are fit and strong doesn't mean that you will be the best leader, because whereas Jack is frail and bony in comparison.

I believe this idea of Stronger and richer means more powerful is very close minded, as it does not take into account for any of the factors that would contribute to making a good open minded leader, like intellect and leadership skills, and knowledge. This way of thinking may be good if you are choosing players to be on your team for a school game of soccer, but not in choosing a leader for such an important event.

I believe that Golding accepted these cultural assumptions he grew up in a time after great wars, and people with a body type like Ralph were highly valued and seen as the perfect human at the time, because we they needed fit strong men to help in the war effort, and he was probably seen as the best choice for leader, because he represented what capable men were meant to look like in this time period.

A drawing of Ralph with a quote from the book.

Comment Stream

2 years ago

first issue with this cultural assumption is you said fit and rich people are seen as being better leaders but there is nothing saying that ralph was elected leader because he was rich. So you should take that out of the cultural assumption. you do link how the author challenges the cultural assumption. you have provided good examples of the cultural assumption and it clearly shows that it is an assumption that ralph is a better leader than piggy because of there bodies. you could probably go into more depth in answering the questions that have been asked there isn't many of them that have been answered clearly in the blog. Overall it is a good blog post but could be better with a bit more depth in the answering of the questions.