ShindleAcc. English – 714 December 2017 The Conch In Lord Of The Flies “Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty and dies with chaos.” (William Durant) Golding symbolizes law and civilization through the use of the conch.
In the Nobel-prize winning novel, Lord Of The Flies by William Golding is an intruding and gripping novel focused on British boys stranded on a uninhabited island after their plane has been crash-landed. The story reveals the struggle of the young boys attempting to govern themselves as well as fighting the lasting effects the island has on them. Conflict arises between two potential leaders Jack and Ralph when both boys compete for power. Jack uses violence and savagery to overrule Ralph’s civilized society that he has tried to create among the boys. However, Ralph has a different viewpoint and believes in democracy and following moral commands whereas Jack acts violently to obtain supremacy over others. Civilization represents a crucial component in Lord Of The Flies. For example, when Ralph and Piggy first discover the conch, they use it to summon the other boys after the crash separates them.
“A conch he called it. He used to blow it and and his mum would come. It’s ever so valuable-” (Golding, 15). Used in this capacity, the conch develops into a powerful symbol of civilization. Without the conch, there would be chaos as well as no order. As the boys become attracted to the sound of the conch and begin to gather in a group, they have their first ever meeting where they discuss their ambitions on the island. “That’s why Ralph made a meeting.
So we can decide what to do” (Golding, 21). This is scene can be compared to consortium, where a group of companies or people with similar interests or goals have agreed to work together. The boys are uniting themselves together to get through the island alive until they are rescued. Therefore, Golding demonstrates the conch having a vast impact on how they live civilly amongst each other.
According to Dictionary.com civilization is “an advanced state of human society, in which a high level of culture, science, industry, and government has been reached.” In Lord Of The Flies, Golding shows the boys using the shell effectively to govern their meetings. “We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They’ll come when they hear us-” (Golding, 16). This scene portrays the conch as a political legitimacy and democratic power.
The conch is more than symbolizing civilization now but also power. “I haven’t finished yet… I’ve got the conch” (Golding, 81-82). In this scene, Ralph had just gathered an assembly to address the issue with the beast in attempt to ease the group’s fear.
Jack is wanting an opportunity to talk but because Ralph is the speaker with the conch, the others have to respect him by listening. Jack being the arrogant boy he is, sits down grumbling. This comes to show that without the conch there would no civilization or respect between the boys. Just as William Durant said “Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty and dies with chaos” Lord Of The Flies is a exemplary example of proving Durant’s quote to be legit. As the civilization on the island begins to corrode, the conch happens to lose the influence and power it has on the boys. For example, “We don’t need the conch anymore!” (Golding 102). Jack enraged by Piggy being too fearful of staying behind while they go on a man hunt for the beast snaps. Golding makes the point that if you remove the conventions of a civilized society than a man’s inner monster will take over and cause anarchy.
This is exactly what happens when Jack becomes power- hungry. “It’s time some people knew they’ve got to keep quiet and leave deciding things to the rest of us” (Golding, 102). Jack reasons that they no longer need a conch and dismisses everyone else’s thoughts in attempt to gain complete control.
In chapter eleven of Lord Of The Flies is when the conch is finally broken by the barbarian Roger. “The conch exploded into thousand white fragments and ceased to exist” (Golding, 181). This is a huge problem for Ralph for he is now the only one alive with civility left in him. The conch breaking symbolizes all civilization departing the island. Furthermore, the conch was something that represented unity between the boys and the destruction of it means that all power could go to Jack now considering he was eager to take control. However, this was foreshadowed earlier in the novel when Jack split with Ralph and created his own tribe. The use of the conch throughout the book helps me understand how the shell symbolized civilization and how without civilization, there is warfare. Golding shows the struggles of the boys attempting to govern themselves with no assistance from the adult world and the insane effects given to the boys from being isolated on the island for a long period of time.
Three key points where Ralph is affected by the conch include when he is first introduced to it by Piggy and how it demonstrates order. Next, the respect the other gives him when he is talking with the conch. Thirdly, the conch is the conventions of a civilized society. Last and most importantly, when the conch shell is broken, Ralph comes to the conclusion that he is the only civilized boy left in the island.