What is the significance of the conch shell shattering in Lord of the Flies

The significance of the conch shell shattering in Lord of the Flies is that it symbolizes the smashing of any remnant of orderly civilization governed by rules. In addition, it also symbolizes the wanton murder of Piggy, who, of all the boys, is most associated with the conch. It signifies that Jack, who has despised both Piggy and the conch, has gained complete control and now has nothing to hold back his tyrannical rule.

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As other responses explain, the most obvious significance of the conch's exploding "into a thousand white fragments" is its symbolic representation of the loss of rules and order in the boys' civilization. Ralph, who had been the first to blow the conch, was elected chief for doing so, much to Jack's dismay. Because the conch was used to summon the boys to assemblies and to maintain order during the meetings, it represented a democratic civilization that respected rules and the rights of its citizens to speak and be heard. The loss of the conch symbolizes the end of Ralph's benevolent rule and introduces complete rule by Jack, the malevolent dictator.

Although the conch is associated with Ralph, it is even more strongly associated with Piggy. Ralph sees it first, but Piggy is the one who identifies it and realizes it is "ever so valuable." He associates it with one that his auntie had, and he has the idea of blowing on it to call the others. He explains to Ralph how to blow into it. Although Ralph is the one who institutes the rule about the conch, Piggy is the one who continually tries to enforce the rule. When Ralph's tribe decides to confront Jack at Castle Rock, Piggy says, "You let me carry the conch, Ralph. I'll show him the one thing he hasn't got."

Jack didn't have the conch, representing the established civilization on the island, nor did he have Piggy's subservience. Even Ralph was afraid of Jack; Piggy was the only one willing to forcefully call Jack out for his evil ways. That the conch and Piggy were destroyed at the same time is significant because it gives Jack a double victory and leaves Ralph without his two biggest assets—his most faithful supporter and the symbol of his role as chief.

The same rock that smashes the conch strikes Piggy and sends him over the cliff to his death. The character and the symbol that represent rules and order are destroyed in the same moment. This reinforces Jack's victory, giving him complete dominance over the island.

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We learn that as Piggy dies, the "conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist."

If Ralph is horrified, Jack is elated, stating in high excitement:

There isn’t a tribe for you any more! The conch is gone—”

He ran forward, stooping.

“I’m chief!”

The conch is the symbol of order and the rule of law on the island. The conch stands above the will of any single individual.

The conch, significantly, is the communication tool that beckons and draws all the boys together initially into a civilized community. The breaking of the conch, as Jack understands, creates a chaos in which he can take over control of everyone for the purpose of his own self-aggrandizement, rather than for the common good.

As Ralph understands:

The breaking of the conch and the deaths of Piggy and Simon lay over the island like a vapor. These painted savages would go further and further . . .

Barbarism and savagery have smashed the order that the more ethical boys tried to establish and which the conch represented. Dictators like Jack or Hitler or anyone else of their ilk thrive in situations where law, truth, and order have been destroyed.

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In order to know the significance of the conch shell shattering, it helps to think about what the conch shell was symbolic of while it was still in one piece. Early on in the story, the boys attempt to set up a democracy of sorts. There is a head chief, but the conch is equivalent to a microphone. Whoever is holding the conch gets to speak, and everybody is supposed to listen. The conch gives everybody an equal voice.

"That's what this thing is called. I'll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he's speaking."

Readers might then say that the conch is symbolic of law, order, civility, democratic rule, and/or civilization. When the conch is destroyed, all that it stood for is also destroyed. The idea that all ideas could be voiced with mutual respect is gone, and all that remains is Jack's reign of terror through the concept of might makes right.

The conch is also symbolic of Ralph's power. He is the boy that first blows the conch, and that helps to establish him as the leader.

But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on his knees, was set apart.

When the conch is destroyed, it is also a great symbolic image that Ralph's time as leader is completely finished.

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Throughout the novel The Lord of the Flies, the conch shell symbolizes civilization, democracy, and order. Whenever the conch is blown the boys assemble for a meeting. Whoever is speaking during the assemblies must hold the conch to prevent the other boys from talking over one another. In Chapter 11, Ralph and Piggy approach Castle Rock to retrieve Piggy's glasses. When Ralph blows the conch, the guards refuse to acknowledge their former leader. After Ralph fights with Jack, Roger rolls a massive bolder onto Piggy, killing him and breaking the conch. The destruction of the conch shell symbolizes to complete loss of civility and order in society. With the conch destroyed, Piggy dead, Samneric captured, and Ralph injured, Jack is in complete control of the island. Jack's tyrannical society lacks morality and thrives off of primitive human instincts. Without the conch to represent a structured society, the boys revel in barbarism.

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