How the Conch Is Used as a Symbol in Lord of the Flies

The Conch is a main symbol in Lord of the Flies in William Golding??™s novel. One of Goldings main techniques for presenting his dramatic conflict involves the use of symbols. Lord of the Flies is a highly symbolic novel, and many of its symbols are eagerly interpreted. The conch in Lord of the Flies, symbolizes order, rules, authority, and civilization.
In the novel Piggy finds the conch and tells Ralph that he should blow into it to make a loud sound.” Its a shell! I seen one like that before, A conch he called it. At this point the conch was introduced first . As a main detail it is important to the story because Ralph uses it to call all the other boys on the island to meetings. Because of the conch rules are made and Ralph becomes the leader. He tries to be a democratic leader, listening to the concerns of all the fears of the littleuns, watching out for the good, building and maintaining the fire, and protecting them by building shelters.
The first rule the boys made was “who ever holds the conch gets to speak.” (p.16) The best thing is to have rules, because without rules nobody knows what to do. People do what they feel like doing and that can bring serious consequences. Through the novel Golding represents civilization as including the valuing of beauty, and the conch is beautiful. If the conch were destroyed there would be confusion, no rules, no leadership, and chaos.
Ralph represents order, leadership and ultimately civilization, just like the conch. Ralph also uses the conch to pull the boys together. “We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. Theyll come when they hear us.” (p. 16) At this point the conch begins to take on more meaning as a symbol. The conch begins to represent community and cooperation. The shell governs the boys on the island and gives the meetings order, since the boy who holds it gets to speak. So the conch symbolizes democratic way of functioning, and a democratic society.
“The conch is gone, see See Thats what youll get! I meant that! There isnt a tribe for you anymore.” (p.181) The rock that Roger rolls onto Piggy also crushes the conch shell, telling the end of the civilized nature among all the boys on the island but Ralph. “There was no Piggy to talk sense. There was no solemn assembly for debate nor dignity of the conch.” (p.196) In these final appearances of the conch in the book we realize that civilization is gone.
The conch plays a key role in this theme because it symbolizes not only to the power to speak during assembly but also the power of order and speech itself. As long as the conchs symbolic power remained alive to the boys, there was hope that they could still be rescued. The boys respected the conch until all the democratic authority on the island was gone. Ralph was left by himself, with no tribe and no Piggy to support him. Golding shows how civilization on the island breaks down and chaos ensues.

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