Study Guide

Lord of the Flies Power

By William Golding

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Congratulations! You've just been elected student body president. What's your first move—getting the mystery meat out of the school lunches, or staking your claim to the best parking spot? In Lord of the Flies, we learn that absolute power corrupts absolutely—but limited power might end up making leaders better. This is the difference between Ralph, who gets more mature in his role as chief, and Jack, who gets—savage. Let's make this really basic: if Ralph represents a democratic society ruled by power for the sake of law and order, then Jack represents an autocratic society governed by power for the sake of power. In Lord of the Flies, the desire for power breaks the boys' fragile civilization, causes strife and competition, and ends up destroying the pristine jungle.

Questions About Power

  1. Why do the boys follow Jack's lead more readily than they do Ralph's? How are Jack's power tactics different than Ralph's?
  2. What's the point of having power on a deserted island, anyway? For Ralph? For Jack? For Roger?
  3. Ralph seems to realize that with great power comes great responsibility. Does this mean that Jack, by not taking real responsibility, isn't actually chief?

Chew on This

Lord of the Flies suggests that brute force is the worst type of power.

In Lord of the Flies, the desire for power disintegrates the boys' group.

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