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The Conch In William Golding's Lord Of The Flies

2556 words - 10 pages

The Conch in William Golding's Lord of the Flies

In William Golding's novel “Lord of the Flies” he uses a lot of
symbolism. The entire book is microcosm to the real world, as the
novel is set at the time when World War II was going on and on the
island there is a hunt at the end of the book symbolic of the war. A
symbol Golding uses throughout the book is the conch. It represents
authority and order. The person holding the conch had the power, and
it created order and rules since when it was called, everyone had to
listen and order is displayed by the meetings or gatherings that it’s
used to call and hold.

In this essay I will be explaining how William Golding used the conch
in the “Lord of the Flies”, explain how it is used by the boys and
what it represents at different points in the novel. I will explore
the implications, relevance and historical context of the novel. In
addition I will discuss the style, structure and character William
Golding uses.

In the Novel, a group of young boy, two of which are Piggy and Ralph.
When exploring the island they find a very special shell. Fishing it
out, Ralph becomes interested in it and asks Piggy, what it is. Piggy
explains that it can blow like a horn if blown into properly. He also
says that he would show Ralph how, but due to his asthma he can't blow
into it. Ralph figures out how and everyone on the island hears the
shell and comes toward the sound. It was used to call all the other
boys on the island together to form a civilisation.

“In colour the shell was deep cream, touched here and there with
fading pink. Between the point, worn
away into a little hole, and the pink lips of the mouth, lay eighteen
inches of shell with a slight spiral
twist and covered with a delicate,
embossed pattern.”

The shell also has a historical background as years ago a shell was
used as a sign of currency. You could use shells to buy food, clothes
and other general items. On the island the shell is worthless as they
cannot buy anything with it or sell it for food as they are only
people on the island. This is why I believe that Golding used a conch
as historically, it is precious, expensive and unique. Towards the end
of the novel, Jack realises that it is worthless and rebels against
the shell and at it represents, civilization, order and democracy. He
believes that it is “just a shell.”

The Conch's power is presented in the very beginning 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 Page 22 shows how everybody seems
to think that power, responsibility and leadership skills comes from
the Conch.

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