The symbolism of the conch in lord of the flies

In William Golding's Lord of the Flies the Conch represents power and order. Power is represented by the fact that you have to be holding it to speak, and Order is displayed by the meetings or gatherings that its used to call and hold.

The Conch's power is presented in the very beginning on pg 22 as the children vote for Ralph to be chief just because he was the one with the Conch. ' «Him with the shell.» «Ralph! Ralph!» «Let him be chief with the trumpet thing» ' this excerpt from pg 22 shows how everybody seems to think that power, responsibility and leadership skills comes from the Conch. Another Example of the Conch's Power is the fact that through out the book the conch is the only tool that can call a meeting and wherever the Conch is thats where the meeting is. No other symbol in Lord of the Flies holds so much power. This is one of the reasons that Jack Merridew disrespects the Conch. He wants to break the spell the symbol has on everybody. He wants to prove that he is the rightful leader.

The Conch also displays order through the rule that you must have the Conch to Speak in an assembly or meeting. «And another thing. We can't have everybody talking at once. We'll have to have 'hands up' like at school.» At first everyone thinks that this is the best method to maintain order but soon they find out how quickly the power of the conch is abused by Ralph and Jack. On pg 89 While Simon is trying to speak Ralph and Jack try to get him to sit down. « 'Sit down' 'Shut up' 'take the Conch!' 'Sod you' ' Shut up!' « This shows early on that the Order is starting to fall apart, fortunatly Ralph doesn't become a corrupt leader he keeps his head on straight which causes the others to get restless. They want to have fun but Ralph being the leader doesn't have a choice some things need to be done in order to stay civilized. Jack on the other hand decides to separate and build his own «Tribe» he uses catchy words like «We'll hunt and have fun» but in actuality Ralph's group which is declining is the safer and the more fun of the two. Here's an excerpt on pg 92 that shows that Ralph is losing control of Jack and the Conch is loosing its effect on the other kids. « 'Blow the Conch Ralph' Piggy was so close that Ralph could see the glint of his one glass 'There's the fire can't they see?' ' You got to be tough now. Make' em do what you want.» Here Ralph and Piggy are debating whether or not to blow the conch and call the rampaging kids back to the assembly. This is the beginning when Ralph starts to lose control. However this instance however is not the only one. Later on in the story the Conch's power, order and «divine» influence completely falls apart. Pg 140 provides a good example of this deterioration «Listen all of you. Me and my hunter s, we're living along the beach on a flat rock. We hunt and feast and have fun. If you want to join the tribe come and see us. Perhaps will let you join. Perhaps not.» Here Jack starts to act more like a kid instead of a leader and the Conch has nee completely forgotten about.

These two paragraphs express the law and order that came with the Conch, and also the deterioration of this symbol. After the deterioration of the Conch everything goes downhill until the hunting tribe becomes complete and total savages!




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