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Symbolism In William Golding’s Lord Of The Flies

1591 words - 6 pages

Symbolism is a literary device used by authors to give deeper levels of meaning to objects and better demonstrate the theme. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, is a popular novel considered to be a “classic” by many. Golding’s literary work is contains many examples of symbolism to help readers better understand the novel’s themes. Three such cases are the conch shell, the fire, and the sow’s head that was put on a stake. Through closer study of the novel, it is evident that each of these objects possess a deeper meaning leading to the overall theme of the downfall of humanity.
The conch shell is the first to be introduced in the novel when Ralph spots it and picks it up. Immediately it becomes the symbol of stable civilization and order on the island. “‘…We can’t have everybody talking at once. We’ll have to have ‘Hands up’ like at school.’” (Golding 31). Ralph links the conch to rules and school, something that, as British school boys, they are familiar with. Even Jack originally demonstrates respect for the idea of rules. “He laid the conch with great care in the grass at his feet.” (Golding 140). Even though he has just embarrassed himself profusely, he places the conch down in the grass carefully rather than doing anything that may damage it.[Longer explanation] The conch also symbolizes the boys’ relationship with each other. When it is first found at the beginning of the novel it is pink. Later on, it begins to fade from pink to white. “The group of boys looked at the white shell with affectionate respect.” (Golding 155-156). This quote is referring to Ralph, Piggy, Sam, and Eric. At this point in the novel the boys are clearly divided, with Jack and his “savages” on one side, and Ralph’s small group of boys on the other. Near the end of the novel, the conch, which has become delicate and brittle, finally falls and shatters into pieces. The state of the conch is in direct correlation with the state of the boys’ relationship with each other; when it finally shatters it signifies the point when the relationship between Ralph and Jack is shattered beyond repair. “The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.” (Golding 200). Its shattering is also simultaneous with Piggy’s death, not by coincidence, as Piggy is most prominent representation of civilization and rules on the island. The conch is also a reminder that physical objects have no greater power than that which is given to them. When first found, it was treated with near reverence. “‘I seen one like that before…It’s ever so valuable…’” (Golding 11). Throughout the novel, Piggy is the one for whom the conch holds the most importance. After Jack’s boys raid their camp during the night, he says that he thought they had come to steal the conch. However, for Jack, the conch has by this point lost all value, and he laughs at Piggy when he brings it up. [Recheck source] Even...

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