In chapter 10 of Lord of the Flies, what is the significance of the title "The Shell and the Glasses"?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title of Chapter Ten, "The Shell and the Glasses," focuses on two symbols of power on the island:  the conch shell and Piggy's glasses. 

The Conch

  • Ralph controls the conch and with it, the power to call the other boys to assembly and give, or conversely not give, them the power to speak.  The conch is a powerful symbol from day one on the island, and when Piggy, Ralph, and Samneric are attacked in their hut at night, they fear the worse--that Jack has come to claim the power of the conch for himself, thus solidifying his role as chief on the island.

The Glasses

  • Piggy controls the glasses, and with them, the power to make fire on the island.  Jack and the hunters cannot cook their spoils of hunting without them, and Jack very well does not wish to lower himself to ask a favor of Piggy, a boy he so openly loathes. 

At the end of the chapter, Piggy discovers that Jack has not, in fact, stolen the conch, but rather his glasses.  Jack's decision to steal the glasses but leave the conch is significant, because his choice truly reveals his belief that the conch, and the way it represented orderly behavior and taking turns, no longer matters to the tribe of hunters.  The hunters have not only stolen the power to make fire, but they have also visibly rebuffed the remaining symbol of authority on the island, Ralph's conch shell.

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Lord of the Flies

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