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What is the full symbolic meaning of the conch in "Lord of the Flies"? Piggy...

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michelle-telford | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 18, 2008 at 8:40 AM via web

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What is the full symbolic meaning of the conch in "Lord of the Flies"?

Piggy speaks of having 'the one thing he [Jack] hasn't got'. After the speech, look through the novel to find the conch's meaning.

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 18, 2008 at 10:38 AM (Answer #1)

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"Lord of the Flies" is an allegory, or a story with a moral message. Generally, the symbols in an allegory are not as broad as in other types of stories. For example, in the novel "Animal Farm" the character of Napoleon represents Josef Stalin. You can replace the name with power-hungry dictator or uncaring leader, but basically you are left with Josef Stalin. The same is true in "Lord of the Flies" The conch represents moral authority on the island. When the conch is blown, the boys are supposed to gather and discuss their conduct, laws and government. Whoever has the conch, has the right to speak. You can use other words to describe moral authority, such as government, or law, but basically it represents moral authority. When the boys begin to disrespect the conch, they also begin to disrespect the authority of conch. When the conch is destroyed, moral authority is destroyed. Jack has succeeded in grabbing power by force and Ralph, the elected leader, is forced to defend his own life. The conch could also be said to represent government or laws, but the same evidence will be used to support those interpretations.

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teyam | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 20, 2008 at 2:25 AM (Answer #2)

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The conch is a representation of a woman, or woman form. When the conch is being described it is said to be "a worthy plaything" and other description clearly states that the conch is a symbol of the safety and comfort found in the female/feminine form. As piggy is always looking for civilisation and authority he confides in the conch.

The conch also symbalises: authority, peace, democracy, unification and free speech.

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