"Lord of the Flies" William Golding:The Symbolic Use of the Conch Shell

Essay by adam_hill07High School, 11th gradeA+, September 2006

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"Lord of the Flies", a novel written by William Golding, tells the story of a group of boys stranded on a desolate, tropical island. The school boys are brought to the island in a section of the airplane that breaks apart during an in-flight explosion. The boy's first reaction to the island is joy because they are in a place with no adults, and they have freedom to do whatever they want. Only a few days after their arrival, several of them realize that being on the island is not what they imagined it to be. The reality of life in the unknown place sinks in. Without guidance from adults or the outside world, the boys feel a need to form a type of civilization complete with an elected leader. As a symbol of civilization, the conch shell is an item of physical and non physical importance because it holds a power of its own.

The conch shell is used as a form of respect and authority between the adolescent group of school boys. As the book unfolds, civilization on the island gradually deteriorates to the point of non existence. Golding introduces the conch shell as a significant symbol to represent overall order on the island.

Ralph and Piggy, two main characters, are credited with finding the conch shell floating in the lagoon while they walk along the beach. Once they retrieve the shell, Piggy realizes that the newly found shell is of significant importance. "We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They'll come when they hear us" (16). From this point throughout the novel, the conch is not just a shell, but the first and most important way of calling an assembly thus making it the first act of civilization. Another act...