Ralph, the athletic, charismatic protagonist of Lord of the Flies, represents the struggle for order and democracy in society. Golding describes Ralph as tall for his age and handsome, and he seems to preside over the other boys by a natural sense of authority. He is ?old enough, twelve years and a few months, to have lost the prominent tummy of childhood?. He has fair hair and is thin. Golding writes:
Described as being ?big enough to be a link with the adult world of authority,? he is elected the leader of the boys at the beginning of the novel. While most of the other boys are concerned with playing, having fun, and avoiding work at the beginning of the story, Ralph sets about building huts and thinking of ways to maximize their chances of being rescued. Ralph’s commitment to civilization and morality is very strong, and his primary wish is to be rescued and returned to the society of adults: ?The fire is the most important thing on the island. How can we ever be rescued except by luck, if we don?t keep a fire going?? A simple statement by Ralph ?brings light and happiness? to the assembly of boys: ?We want to be rescued, and of course we shall be rescued.? For these reasons, Ralph’s power and influence over the other boys are extremely secure at the beginning of the novel.
Although Ralph lacks Piggy’s clear intellect, Ralph is calm and rational, with sound judgment and a strong moral sensibility. Golding uses Ralph to represent the perfect human? someone who is good but not to such a degree that he is not vulnerable to normal human temptations. For much of the novel, Ralph is simply unable to understand why the other boys would give in to base instincts of lust for blood and barbarism. The sight of the hunters chanting and dancing is baffling and distasteful to him; but when Ralph hunts a boar for the first time, he experiences the exhilaration and thrill of violence: ?The desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering.?
Despite his susceptibility to the same instinctual influences that affect the other boys, Ralph remains the one character who remains most civilized through the first half of the novel. He is constantly making sensible rules for the boys to follow, and strives to maintain peace on the island. Ralph is the principal representative of order, civilization, and productive leadership. With his attention to justice and equality, he represents the liberal democratic tradition as chief. In Lord of the Flies, Golding uses Ralph?s character as a vehicle to symbolize law, organized society, and moral integrity.