Throughout the novel, Ralph calls assemblies using the conch, and the boys gather onto the platform overlooking the beach and lagoon. Initially, the boys use the platform as a place to vote for their chief. Golding writes,
This toy of voting was almost as pleasing as the conch (28).
The boys vote for Ralph to be their leader, simply because he is an attractive person holding the beautiful conch. Since the platform is the location where the vote takes place, it symbolizes democratic power.
Later on, Ralph holds another assembly to discuss the results of their excursion around the island. A small boy with a mulberry-colored birthmark on his face requests the conch to address the group. Golding writes,
At last Ralph induced him to hold the shell but by then the blow of laughter had taken away the child’s voice. Piggy knelt by him, one hand on the great shell, listening and interpreting to the assembly (48).
The fact that each child, regardless of age or size, has an opportunity to speak and address the group illustrates the democratic nature of the platform. No child is discouraged from voicing their opinion on matters, including timid "littluns."
Another quote that demonstrates the symbolic democratic nature of the platform is presented when Golding writes,
Ceremonially, Ralph laid the conch on the trunk beside him as a sign that the speech was over (116).
Each boy understands the rules and procedures for addressing the group and is given an equal opportunity to speak. Ralph ceremoniously laying the conch down after speaking reveals the democratic nature of the platform. He is essentially signaling to the other boys that they can have their turn addressing the group because he is finished.
"A great platform of pink granite thrust up uncompromisingly through forest and terrace and sand and lagoon to make a raised jetty four feet high. The top of this was covered with a thin layer of soil and coarse grass and shaded with young palm trees" (12).
The platform in Lord of the Flies is one of the most significant locations in the novel. Used by the boys as the meeting place for all of their assemblies, the platform easily comes to represent the notion of democracy in the novel. In the very first assembly the boys clamor to elect a chief:
"'Let's have a vote.'
'Vote for chief!'
This toy of voting was almost as pleasing as the conch'" (22).
Then later, Ralph deepens the democratic approach by insisting that all the boys have a voice and chance to speak at the tribal meetings by using the conch; any boy can contribute and he "can hold it when he's speaking" (33).
Contrastingly, as Jack begins to challenge the democratic system of the platform, he naturally moves his tribe and meetings to another venue, Castle Rock, where his power can reign supreme without input from the others. The composition of the platform versus Castle Rock also reveals the differences between Ralph's democratic system and Jack's dictatorship. At the platform the boys all sat equally on logs and at the same height, but at Castle Rock, Jack sits higher than the other boys who "lay in a semicircle before him" (160).