Expert Answers
poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter One of Lord of the Flies, Ralph and Piggy are exploring the island which will serve as their temporary new home. Ralph spots something under the sand, and he digs it out, only to discover that it is a conch shell. Ralph initially is unsure of what to do with the shell, but when he blows on it, he is able to summon the rest of the boys--who have been scattered across the island after the crash--to his side. 

The conch shell, thus, comes to serve as a symbol of power, of order, and of civilization. It is used as a tool to govern the meetings and imbues the boy who holds it with the right to speak. While it eventually loses its power when the sense of democracy within the group loosens, it begins as a vessel of leadership and legitimacy. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I assume that you are talking about what is found by Ralph and by Piggy in Chapter 1.  What they find is a conch shell lying there in the shallow water.

At first, Ralph has no idea what to do with the shell.  But Piggy suggests that they can use it as a horn.  They can use it to notify anyone else who survived the crash that other people are alive on the island.  This is the first use of the conch.

Later, the conch becomes the thing that shows whose turn it is to talk at meetings -- whoever holds it gets to speak.

mkcapen1 | Student

After Ralph meets Piggy he and Ralph are exploring the island area around them.  Ralph sees something under the muck sand.  He leans over and wiggles it out of the sand.  It is a conch shell.  He blows the shell and to his surprise other boys start to go to where he and Piggy are standing.

Soon an older boy named Jack comes with a few other boys.  They have gathered as a group as a result of his blowing the shell.  Because he has he shell he is voted as the person in charge which Jack does not like.  It is the first of many conflicts over power between Jack and Ralph.

Piggy comes up with the idea of no one speaks unless they are the one holding the shell.  This represents the parliamentary rules of civilization which Piggy tries to retain through-out his life on the island.

Read the study guide:
Lord of the Flies

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question