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Three pivotal objects that develop through the course of the plot in Lord of the Flies are the conch shell, the beast, and fire.
The conch shell represents civility and following rules. For the boys on the island, the conch signifies power and leadership. The boys elect Ralph because he first used the conch, arguing, "Let him be chief with the trumpet-thing" (22). Later the conch becomes a symbol of taking turns and following the rules. Ralph suggests that the boys will "have to have 'Hands up' like at school," and that the conch will give the speaker the right to talk without interruption. At the end of the novel, when Piggy and Ralph go to demand Piggy's glasses back, Piggy, holding the conch, confronts Jack and his hunters:
"Which is better--to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?" (180)
Piggy holds dearly onto the conch, characterized by Golding as a "talisman, the fragile, shining beauty of the shell" (180). Only moments later, Roger loosens the huge rock, a "monstrous red thing" that kills Piggy and shatters the conch. Ralph's precious talisman "exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist" (181). As a metaphor for civilization on the island, the conch's demise signals the end of law and order on the island. Ralph's reign as chief has effectively been terminated, and Jack seizes power in this chilling moment of savagery.
Another important object throughout the story is the 'beast.' The beast appears early on, a phantom and product of the littluns' imagination. The presence of a possible monster on the island heightens the tension among the boys. The 'beast' evolves throughout the story as the boys' perception of it changes and adapts within the novel. At first "the beastie or snake thing" is real only to the littluns who fear it in their dreams at night. By chapter five, the idea of the beast has gained momentum, and at a tribal meeting the boys brainstorm about where could it be and possible explanations or excuses for the beast's continued existence. By chapter six, "Beast from the air," the boys' fear is complete as a hideous beast has been discovered on the mountain side. Of course, the readers know that the beast's form is actually a dead paratrooper.
Fire also plays an integral role throughout the story in many different contexts. Ralph makes a passionate argument on the behalf of keeping the signal fire lit, so the boys could be rescued. The fire, however, becomes a larger issue on the island and represents not only danger, but also the hope for rescue. The signal fire becomes the central sticking point in Jack and Ralph's argument that results in Jack leaving the tribe permanently. Ultimately at the end of the novel, Jack uses fire to flush Ralph out from hiding in the jungle. Ironically, the massive amounts of smoke resulting from half the jungle being on fire is what captures the naval officers' attention and results in the boys' rescues.
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