The Symbolism of the Conch Shell in Lord of the Flies by William Golding

1086 WordsAug 7, 20115 Pages
The Symbolism of the Conch In Lord of the Flies, several symbols are used to illustrate important ideas that are crucial to the plot and meaning of the book. One of these symbols is the conch: this rare shell is not only a precious and expensive in the world of merchandise; it also holds a dark and mysterious power over a group of English boys, lost on an island with no adults, clues, or means of escape. The boys set up a civilization and try to live in the society they have set up. This system works for a while, aided by the power of the conch. However, as the story advances, the civilized way of life that the boys have set up starts falling apart, and savagery starts luring certain boys outside of the safe and rational walls of…show more content…
The conch is gone (181) […]” So their token of power, their last little bit of significance, has been shattered to pieces, and washed away by the cleansing waves of the sea. When the conch is destroyed, it is a clear sign that all civilization has disappeared and disintegrated. This is shown to the extent that a person – Piggy – is killed, or rather, murdered. Symbolically, the shell is destroyed at the same time that Piggy dies: these two were basically all of the order, rational thinking, structure and civilization that were present on the island, and they are both lost at once, by the very hands of the savages. The conch also represented purity and innocence, and the humanity in the boys: both the conch, and humanity, are fragile and pure: “The conch lay at Ralph’s feet, fragile and white (171).” This important of the boys lives on the island “exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist (181)”, and along with it went everything it represented. The conch, therefore, is a powerful and mysterious object in this novel that represents purity, innocence, order, unity, and everything that is good, everything that crumbles and disintegrates as the once-civilized boys turn to savages. The conch, symbol of hope, is shattered, and its destruction brings about the destruction of the boys’ very essence, of their love, of their compassion, of their humanity. The conch, a powerful and important object on a number of levels, plays an important role in Lord of
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