Analysing the extract

The question

Starting with this extract, how does Ralph's character change throughout the novel?

As part of your answer you will need to analyse what the passage shows about Ralph at this point.

Look again at the extract below with some highlighted points that you could write about in an answer. Think about what Golding is telling the reader about Ralph's state of mind.

Ralph looked at him (1) dumbly. For a moment he had a fleeting picture of the (2) strange glamour that had once invested the beaches. But the island was (3) scorched up like dead wood - Simon was dead - and (4) Jack had... The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for (5) the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, (6) the other little boys began to shake and sob too. And in the middle of them, with (7) filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, (8) the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the (9) true, wise friend called Piggy.

  • (1) 'dumbly' - This has a double meaning. Ralph's recent experiences have left him both unable to actually speak and unable to put his intense feelings into words.
  • (2) 'strange glamour' - Refers back to the start of the novel when the island seemed an attractive and fun place to be.
  • (3) 'scorched up like dead wood' - This is now the reality of the island and what the boys have done to it.
  • (4) 'Jack had...' - The terrible things which Jack has done are too difficult for Ralph to think or talk about.
  • (5) 'the first time' - Despite his terrible experiences, Ralph has only now given way to his emotions.
  • (6) 'the other little boys began to shake and sob too' - Ralph still leads the other boys as they react to his emotional state with their own outburst.
  • (7) 'filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose' - Ralph has tried to remain civilised and clean but even he now looks wild and savage.
  • (8) 'the darkness of man's heart' - Ralph realises what Simon understood earlier - that the Beast is inside all of them.
  • (9) 'true, wise friend' - Although he tolerated Piggy, Ralph did not regard him as a friend. He understands now that this is exactly what Piggy was.