The first symbol of civilization is the conch shell that Ralph and Piggy found on the island. They used the shell to locate the other survivors and also to establish a system of leadership and authority. During their meetings the individual in possession of the conch would be allowed to speak as the rest listened. The system worked initially by establishing a civil community where each member had an opportunity to be heard. The boys also voted for a leader with Ralph being elected because of his demeanor, physical attributes and because he was the one who summoned all of them.
“We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They’ll come when they hear us—”
“Him with the shell.”
“Let him be chief with the trumpet-thing.”
Ralph raised a hand for silence.
The boys also assigned responsibilities to different groups to ensure they had food and shelter. Ralph led those who were in charge of building the shelters while Jack led the hunters who were responsible for providing food for the community. They also built a signal fire and made Jack and the hunters responsible for keeping it burning so they could be rescued when the chance presented itself.
“We’ve got to have special people for looking after the fire. Any day there may be a ship out there“–he waved his arm at the taut wire of the horizon–“and if we have a signal going they’ll come and take us off.”
“If it rains like when we dropped in we’ll need shelters all right.”