In Chapter 1 of Lord of the Flies, how does William Golding use symbols, especially colors, to characterize Ralph and Jack?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Golding associates Ralph most closely with the symbol of the conch.  The conch is a creamy white, natural and pure; Golding uses the color association of the conch with Ralph to suggest that Ralph, like the conch, is also pure and has an innocent quality.  Later, as the conch comes to symbolize authority and order, Ralph, its possessor, also gains authority from his association with the conch shell.

Jack Merridew, on the other hand, is first portrayed by Golding as being "hidden" by his black cloak, his choral ensemble (19).  Golding's use of the color black in conjunction with Jack's character suggests early on that Jack may be the villain of the novel; his color stands in stark opposition to the crisp white color related to Ralph and the shell.  Jack's dark cloak, moreover, is described as 'hiding' the boy, and as the novel continues, the motif of disguises and masks plays a dominant role in the development of Jack's character and the novel as a whole.