Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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In Lord of the Flies, what do the young children appreciate about the conch?

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The youngest children stranded on the island in Lord of the Flies are called little 'uns. We first meet them when Ralph uses the conch to call an assembly. Ralph blows with all his might into the shell, and it makes a noise like a trumpet. The first little 'un who appears comes and squats directly in front of Ralph and begins to "look satisfied," that satisfaction coming from "the assurance of something purposeful being done." Similarly, other little 'uns find their way to the source of the trumpet sound and begin dutifully submitting to the roll call Piggy tries to take. Golding mentions that they obey in the same way they had obeyed the men with megaphones. Presumably when they had been put onto the ship that brought them to the island, men used megaphones to get the attention of the boys. The little 'uns associate the conch with the megaphones, and since Ralph is significantly older than they are (from their perspective), they regard him as an authority figure similar to the men on the boat. This gives structure to their behavior and someone to listen to, which is very reassuring to the children who suddenly and traumatically find themselves without any adult care or guidance.

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