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The Lord Of The Flies: How The Conch Is Used To Highlight Ideas In The Book

1693 words - 7 pages

Generally speaking, the conch has represented democracy and collectiveness throughout the novel. Golding uses the conch to highlight many different ideas in the book by setting the story on an island, which is a microcosm of the entire world and the world that the boys lived in before encountering the fateful crash of the plane. The group of boys encounter problems which, even on this island, they are unable to escape from. It is important to remember that at the same time, there is a nuclear war taking place. The ‘long scar’ that ‘smashed into the jungle’ implies that the island has already been ruined permanently. It seems as though the attempt to remove the boys from a war-filled world has failed because the island is already contaminated by the crash of the plane, which was shot down by an enemy plane, this is somewhat related to warfare. The boys now need to survive on the island and this causes problems revolving around social order, as there are no adults present. In that case, some of the problems are attempted to be resolved by using the conch.
Soon after Ralph discovers the conch, it becomes a symbol of unity and collectivity, because it is used to gather any survivors for an assembly. The assembly itself at the beginning of the novel shows that the children still have the civil codes and rules of society engraved within them. This means that the boys were at that time, behaving within the acceptable boundaries of society. However, the fact that they are still boys imply that the civil codes have not yet been fully engraved and developed inside them. During the first assembly, ‘it seems to [Ralph] that [they] ought to have a chief to decide things.’ Even though this is a sensible idea, there is still a lack of maturity, as the use of the word ‘chief’ usually suggests a more primitive civilization or a less developed society.
The conch is regarded in different ways according to each character. Piggy is one of the most vulnerable characters so in a way, he uses the conch as a means of self-protection. He already has many physical disadvantages, such as being short-sighted and asthmatic. As well as being easily out casted, Piggy signifies those who are easily victimized. Therefore, the conch is particularly important to him, as he relies on it for democracy, living among those who are more dominant and getting heard by those who tend to ignore him. We can see that Piggy cares greatly about the conch just by studying the way he handles it, when he ‘cradled the conch.’ One circumstance during which it is evident that Piggy defends democracy, is when the boy with a ‘mulberry-coloured birthmark’ tries to tell the group about ‘a beastie.’ At this point, none of the other boys have any intention of listening except Piggy, who insists that Ralph should ‘let him have the conch.’ The reason why Piggy stands up for the boy with a ‘mulberry-coloured birthmark’ is because he sees himself as the boy. At the...

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