Responsible, reasonably intelligent, and well socialized, Ralph represents order and civilization. The other boys recognize his leadership ability and elect him to be their leader. He becomes gradually devastated by the events that take place on the island and becomes a target of the boys once they go wild.
With a commanding presence, Jack has leadership abilities as well but is more authoritarian and domineering. He competes with Ralph for power and is corrupted by the power he attains.
Pudgy, near-sighted, and plagued by asthma, Piggy becomes a target of teasing, then bullying, and then persecution. He is probably the wisest of the boys as well as the most intelligent; his glasses are a symbol of his greater insight into what is happening on the island.
Simon represents the spiritual side of humanity. He is kind and considerate, helping to find food for the littluns. He is also curious, hoping to solve the mystery of the beast.
Roger, even more so than Jack, represents the savage cruelty of human nature—the pursuit of pleasure by persecuting others. He becomes the executioner—the disciplinary arm of Jack's authoritarian rule.
Samneric are the Everyman among the chief characters, willing to follow Ralph while independent enough to criticize him privately, and led by fear to move toward Jack's side as events progress. They are followers—the ordinary people that make up every society and that every leader must have in order to be a leader.
Initially an object created by the boys' imaginations through fear, the beast takes physical form in the body of the dead parachutist. Fear of the beast is so great that the boys are unwilling to fully observe it and thus cannot understand what it really is. Fear of the beast helps explain the boys' turn to savagery. The true beast, however, is the inherent evil lurking in each boy's flawed heart.