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Civilization Examples from Lord of the Flies:
I centered all three of the civilization examples around the symbolism of the conch.
1. Ralph establishes rules in their meeting:
"If I blow the conch and they don't come back;"And another thing. We can't have everybody talking at once. We'll have to have 'Hands up' like at school" (33).
In this scene, Ralph established the conch as the symbol for order and civilization. He uses the shell as an icon in their meetings for taking turns and speaking. The power of the conch calls the boys to assembly and then maintains order during the meeting. The boys treat it reverently, many of them remembering back to the first day when it called them all together. They treated Ralph and the conch with "the same simple obedience that they had given to the men with megaphones" (18).
2. Scene when Jack and the other boys challenge the rules and leave the meeting to hunt the beast in chapter six:
"If I blow the conch and they don't come back; then we've had it. We shan't keep the fire going. We'll be like animals. We'll never be rescued" (93).
This quote really reveals Ralph's perception of the relationship between the conch, the fire, and rescue. He connects the idea of maintaining order through the conch to the consistent maintenance of a signal fire. For Ralph, all of these ideas represent attempts to reconnect to civilization; he fears the other boys', particularly Jack's, easy drift toward the savage hunting lifestyle.
3. Piggy's Death at Castle Rock
"By him stood Piggy still hodling out the talisman, the fragile, shining beauty of the shell," but when Roger sends the boulder crashing into Piggy, "the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist (180-181).
Golding uses the conch throughout the novel as a symbol for the fragility of civilization. In Lord of the Flies, maintaining order and law among the boys requires a delicate, careful balance. Roger's easy destruction of the conch reflects Golding's belief that savagery and violence can quickly disrupt or even destroy civilization. Piggy's tragic death and the conch's destruction signals the end of any attempt at civilization on the island and reinforces the dominant role of violence and savagery in the boys' new lifestyle.
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