In Lord of the Flies, what does the assembly platform symbolize?

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andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since a platform is an elevated structure, it is obviously much more prominent than everything around it. Therefore, what happens on it should be of special significance. This is easily understood when one considers the fact that, ubiquitously, a platform is a place from which important or well-known individuals make announcements, conduct affairs, or do presentations for our entertainment.

Because of its conspicuous nature and its ideal natural design, the platform in Lord of the Flies is chosen as the place from which meetings will be conducted. Symbolically, this means that it represents civilized order. It is here where the boys gather to make important decisions and discuss matters of concern. Meetings have rules and these have to be respected. In this sense, then, the platform also becomes a symbol for respect and unity. Irrespective of where they are on the island, the boys go to gather on the platform when a meeting is called. This is where they coalesce as a group.

In addition, once the boys are on the platform, they rise above the ordinary. One can, therefore, also infer another symbolic connotation: the platform uplifts them from their most basic instinct -- their innate savagery -- and forces them to become more humane. They are expected to maintain themselves once they are in a meeting there. In this regard, the platform symbolizes their humanity and the fact that they are supposed to be the superior of anything savage, such as the wild animals on the island.

As soon as the boys stop having meetings and using the platform, they descend into savagery, and a state of anarchy soon ensues. The unity in the group is broken, and the boys split into opposing groups. In the end, almost all humanity is lost and only antipathy remains.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The assembly platform is where Ralph and Piggy originally sat and used the conch to gather the boys from all over the island.  It is where Ralph is voted leader and where he brings the boys to gather when he wants to "govern" - to give duties and chastise and debate about what should be done. 

One had to sit, attracting all eyes to the conch, and drop words like heavy round stones among the little groups that crouched or squatted. 

Thus, the platform represents the seat of government on the island.  Without the platform - no government, anarchy ensues. 

And htis is exactly what happens.  Slowly, the power of the assembly is undermined by Jack, and fewer and fewer boys gather at the platform.  Before the end, it is only Ralph, Piggy, Sam and Eric.  Then the platform - i.e., the government of the island - is attacked by Jack and the hunters, who take Piggy's glasses.  When this happens, all power has shifted to Jack's group and away from the assembly, and this is the beginning of the end - no more civilization on the island.  

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Lord of the Flies

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