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Lord of the Flies - The symbolism of the conch, its importance in the novel and the attitude of the boys towards it.

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Introduction

Lord of the Flies The symbolism of the conch, its importance in the novel and the attitude of the boys towards it. William Golding uses a lot of symbolism in his novel, Lord of the Flies, for objects that represent ideas or progression into savagery. One of the main objects is the conch. This shell represents power and authority, and we can see this because Ralph uses it to call the others to join him in a meeting. In these meetings whomever holds the shell is entitled to speak and this represents democracy and freedom of speech within a group instead of a purely autocratic assembly that Jack would have. The conch shows how people use objects to give power, like a crown or scepter. Ralph first gets the confidence to suggest that a chief is necessary from the conch and from then on he uses it as his support, I quote, " 'Shut up', said Ralph absently. He lifted the conch. 'Seems to me we ought to have a chief to decide things' ". His forcefulness gains respect from the others, and I quote "Ralph smiled and held up the conch for silence" and immediately the boys listened to what he had to say. Ralph uses the shell to set up the rules by which the boys will live and says "I'll give the conch to the next person to speak. ...read more.

Middle

This showed the boys progression into savagery and the art of hunting, the stick is twice as dangerous as it was before and is a source of power, mainly for Jack. Also the face paint allows the boys to feel in control, in particular Jack. This is because it masks their true identity and allows them to become more powerful and be free of guilt as they are in fact taking on a different persona, one that it far more savage and uncivilized. I quote "Jack looked down from behind his paint at Ralph and Piggy." When Jack begins to ignore the conch and all that it stands for, he scorns their whole way of life and society. By this he is saying to the other boys that the way that Ralph is leading them is corrupt and unconsciously, he makes the other boys too begin to doubt in Ralph. I quote, " 'Conch! Conch!' Shouted Jack, 'we don't need the conch any more. We know we ought to say things. What good did Simon do speaking, or Bill, or Walter? It's time some people knew they've got to keep quiet and leave deciding things to the rest of us." By this Jack means Piggy and Ralph. Jack feels that Ralph is not a proper leader, he resents him and wants the boys to see that he is a better choice than Ralph is. ...read more.

Conclusion

I quote "Piggy still holding out the talisman, the fragile, shining beauty of the shell". By now the shell is fragile as democracy is practically non existent and this angers Roger more than ever so he levers the rock off the cliff so that it falls onto Piggy, one of two true believers in the conch. When Piggy and the conch are both destroyed, it signifies the complete demise of the civilized instinct among all the boys on the island and the silencing of the true and wise voice of reason. It is also obvious that it is Jack and Roger who have finally destroyed all of the rules that Ralph made, and "The conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist". It is then the boys who are not hunters that suffer and Jack hurts a little one for no apparent reason. "He got angry and made us tie Wilford up" is all that his followers knew, and yet they did not doubt him for the boys still need some rules in their lives. It is the society members that suffer when there is no democracy; not the leaders like Jack, and at the end of the book there was nothing that prevented the boys from complete disorder. It is when this happens that we realize that even though an object can give power like a spear to Jack or the conch to Ralph, an object can never truly provide power for others can just disregard it. Felicity Cohen 10F Coursework ...read more.

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