Ralph, the first character introduced to the audience, is probably the most likable character in the entire story. Although he does not ponder such deeply like Piggy, is not as spiritual like Simon, or as energetic as Jack, there is something in him that attracts the audience.Ralph serves as the protagonist of the story. He is described as being a playful, innocent child in the beginning, but towards the end he matures significantly. In the first chapter where he takes his clothes off and goes swimming like any child would do, he seems to be Adam in the Garden of Eden, a child left to play with the nature.
However, as the plot progresses, Ralph faces both internal and external conflicts; from those conflicts he greatly matures. Ralph always has the strong belief that all the children will be saved from the island sooner or later; he is so sure that he even insists that they should have fire at all times to signal. However, when the boys abandon the fire which is symbolic of Ralphs hope of getting saved, Ralph faces an internal conflict that makes him fear about their future; perhaps they will not be rescued at all. By insisting that the children should keep the fire going, he creates an external conflict with Jack whose values are different. Jack is enjoying life as a leader of the savages, and he fears that fire will possibly end his authoritarian rule over the savages. Both conflicts are resolved when Ralph finally meets the naval officer.
Ralph is one of the few boys who realize that the only way to survive is through peace and order. Because he summons the boys at the beginning of the novel with the conch he and Piggy find, they look upon him as the most responsible of the boys and elect him as a chief over the humiliated Jack. Ralph creates a stable and peaceful society for the children to live; this significantly bothers Jack because he wants to have fun and do things that he never did back in the civilized society. Jack is eventually successful of pulling nearly all of the children out of Ralphs control to form savages. Ralph represents the civilization, and Jack represents the primitive society.
Moreover, Ralph is Goldings symbolic method of democracy. To the audience, Ralph seems like Franklin D. Roosevelt during the World War IIhe was certainly capable of stopping the World War II from breaking out, but he could not force anybody thus letting the War break out. Similar comparison is used for Ralph; he is certainly capable of stopping the kids from acting irresponsibly, however, he forces nothing into happening. At first, Ralph gives power to Jack; this is an example of separation of power in a democratic government. Also, even though the children in the island are not acting like they were told to do, Ralph never uses the punishment but instead he tries to talk to the children sensibly into doing the right thing. This eventually fails because Jack offers more exciting actions, but still Ralph refuses to fight Jack for the powers back. Jack, on the other hand, represents the totalitarian, anarchic government where total chaos is created. The two characters are used to provide a contrast between a civilization and a primitive society.
Ralph also supports a few themes of the book. One of them is the need for civilization. Ralph, representing the civilization, proves to the audience the fact that in order for a society to function order is necessary. This is the most obvious theme. Also, Ralph, along with the other children, presents another theme to the audienceinnocence and the loss of it. Through a transformation in character, Ralph eventually loses his innocence as a child; he is in the position of an adult and is acting and making decisions just like one.
Ralph goes through a major character transformation during the island stay. Because of Jacks authoritarian rule, the fear of the beast that never physically existed, and his dependence to the fire, Ralph tries to fight with the problems of being a leader. The childish innocence and playful nature of a child is lost as he begins to accept the fact that he is not as thoughtful and thorough as Piggy. As he tries to ponder through some of the problems and act like an adult, he has become more considerate.
Ralph is certainly not a perfect person. He has flaws as he once tries to join Jacks tribe because he cannot possibly stand the loneliness that he is experiencing. He is also fearful only that he does not show his fear to the children because that will cause chaos among the children. However, he is the only person who acknowledges the importance of being responsible, and he takes over as a true leader even though he is not necessarily good at it.