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Symbolism In "Lord Of The Flies"

1107 words - 4 pages

Symbolism in Lord of the Flies(Re-write)In Lord of the Flies by William Golding a group of young British boys are stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane crashes. At first a paradise, the island eventually becomes a seemingly inescapable hell for some of the newcomers. There are various symbolic items present on the island for the majority of the boys' stay, and by examining these symbols we can trace their decline of civilization.The most obvious of these symbolic items is the conch. Ralph first blows the conch on the beach with Piggy after they discover it in the lagoon to call the other boys from whom they're separated, and being used in this capacity it becomes a strong symbol of civilization and order. Ralph is even distinguished from the rest as a suitable leader because he's "the being that [blows the shell], waiting for them on the platform with that delicate thing balancing on his knees"(19). He uses the conch shell to govern meetings, and give a sense of power by allowing whoever holds the shell the right to speak. As time passes on the island this rule for talking in turn is respected less and less, certainly by members such as Jack, who constantly tells Piggy to "shut up" despite the fact that he clearly has the right to speak. Ralph even realizes at one pivotal point that this is happening, and fears to blow the conch: "If I blow the conch and they don't come back[,] then we've had it"(99).Chaos ensues of course, leading to the death of Piggy and the destruction of the conch when Roger pushes a rock onto him, which represents the full transition to savagery of the boys: From here on they're a bloodthirsty pack of painted little monsters, attempting to hunt and murder Ralph.Similar to the conch, the fire represents civilization, but in the sense that it's their way of returning to it. The signal fire is first set atop the mountain, and there seems to be perhaps some hope of rescue. The boys even organize who tends to the fire so that it will always be sending up the smoke to alert any possible ships passing by. As their civilized manner perishes their rational thinking does as well, and the signal fire becomes increasingly less important to nearly all the boys save for Piggy and Ralph, who grows incredibly frustrated. "Can't they understand? Without the smoke signal we'll die here[!]"(153) he says, expressing this frustration to Piggy. The lack of contribution by Jack's group of hunters in particular may have even delayed their rescue from the island because they abandon the fire to go hunting , and while gone a ship passes by off in the distance. This of course leads to more quarrelling, less order among the group, and its use becomes frighteningly uncivilized by the end. At first declining in use to a cooking fire, it becomes a tool of fear and destruction as the group of savages uses the fire to smoke out Ralph at the end of the novel. The irony is that this fire, meant to destroy the one boy who's been advocating the...

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