In Lord of the Flies Ralph says, "If we have a signal going, they'll come and take us off. And another thing. We ought to have more rules. Where the conch is, that's a meeting. The same up here as...

In Lord of the Flies Ralph says, "If we have a signal going, they'll come and take us off. And another thing. We ought to have more rules. Where the conch is, that's a meeting. The same up here as down there." What literary device is used in this quote? Can you analyze this quote?

Expert Answers
rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The literary device Golding uses in this quote is symbolism, and at least three levels of symbolism are at work here. First, Golding has his characters choose a symbol for themselves as part of the action of the story. The boys have chosen the conch as a symbol of their form of government, which happens to be a type of democracy. They voted to elect Ralph as their chief, and they agreed to rules for their assemblies, including that whoever has the conch must be allowed to speak uninterrupted. This quote extends the authority of the conch, and therefore their democracy, to everywhere on the island. While the characters overtly use the conch as a symbol, Golding develops the symbol further in the narrative, using it to stand for the order of a civilized society. It comes to represent Ralph, Piggy, and the faction on the island that wants to remain civilized, as opposed to Jack's band that descends into savagery. Another symbol evident in the quote is the signal fire, which represents hope of rescue and a connection with the outside world. Ralph is "nuts on the signal," according to Jack, but as Ralph begins to despair and lose focus, Piggy often has to remind him of the importance of the fire. 

The quote could be analyzed in several ways. One would be to examine how it relates to the action of the story. Coming early in the novel, the quote establishes the importance of the conch and the fire, two elements that drive the narrative. This scene foreshadows the scene on Castle Rock when Piggy carries the conch when he and Ralph go to confront Jack about Piggy's glasses; at that later meeting, both the conch and Ralph's desire for "more rules" are shattered. 

The quote could be analyzed in terms of characterization, using it to show Ralph's blossoming skills as a leader and his relationship with Jack, since Jack immediately agrees with this declaration by Ralph.

One could also analyze the quote in relation to many of the themes of the novel, such as civilization versus savagery as discussed above. Another theme this quote could be helpful in exploring is what the book has to say about leadership. Ralph does not have natural leadership abilities like Jack, and he is not as intelligent as Piggy, yet he has leadership "thrust upon him." He takes his responsibility seriously throughout the novel, and he demonstrates that a good leader denies his own desires at times for the good of the group. Here he operates outside his comfort zone and skill set to help the entire group of boys who are now under his authority.

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Lord of the Flies

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