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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Discussion Topic

The symbolism, significance, and evolving perception of the conch in Lord of the Flies

Summary:

The conch in Lord of the Flies symbolizes civilization, order, and rational thought. Initially, it brings the boys together, establishing order and civility. The conch allows the holder to speak, reinforcing democratic principles. As the novel progresses, the boys' obedience to the conch wanes, symbolizing their descent into savagery. Its destruction coincides with Piggy's death, marking the complete breakdown of order and civilization.

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How is the conch perceived and how does its significance change in Lord of the Flies?

This a great question. The symbolic use of the conch is pretty powerful and pervasive. There are three instances where the conch is prominent.

First, when the boys are on the island (after the plane crash), there is general chaos and mayhem. Piggy and Ralph find the conch and they blow into it. This allows the boys to find each other and get together. There is order and civility. In this way, the conch symbolizes a civilizing and organizing force.

Second, this point can also be seen in another example. When the boys come together to talk and discuss, the one who holds the conch is able to speak. This action once again shows the ordering forces that the boys are capable of, which the conch represents.

As the book progresses the conch is destroyed. At the same time, Piggy dies and Ralph flees for his life. As the order breaks down into chaos, it is symbolized in the breaking of the conch.

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What does the conch symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

The conch is a significant symbol in the novel that represents civilization, order, and rational thought. At the beginning of the story, Piggy and Ralph discover the conch in the lagoon, and Ralph proceeds to blow into it to call the other boys on the uninhabited tropical island. When the boys decide to vote for chief, the overwhelming majority of them vote for Ralph, simply because they are attracted to the beautiful, mystical conch that he is holding. One of the first rules that Ralph establishes involves the conch. The boys agree that whoever is holding the conch has the opportunity to speak without being interrupted. Therefore, the conch becomes a symbol of order and equality, which gives each of the boys a platform to express their opinions freely.

The boys also obey the conch whenever it is blown. Blowing the conch signifies that an assembly will be held, and all the boys must attend. The fact that the conch signifies an assembly highlights its relation to order and rational thought. As the novel progresses, Jack begins to disobey the conch by interrupting the person holding it and refusing to assemble when it is blown. Jack's character symbolically represents savagery and anarchy, which is why he is diametrically opposed to obeying the conch. Piggy, who is by far the most civilized, intelligent boy on the island, cherishes the conch and tries his best to protect it.

Since the conch symbolically represents civilization, order, and rational thought, the reader can accurately gauge the boys' descent into savagery by examining how they respond to the conch being blown or held. Toward the end of the novel, Jack and his tribe of savages completely reject the conch's authority. As savages, they dismiss any aspect of civilization and are completely motivated by their inherent, primitive desires. When Piggy travels to Castle Rock to retrieve his glasses, Roger hurls a massive boulder toward him, which strikes and kills him. The boulder also destroys the conch, which symbolically represents the complete loss of civility and hope for rescue on the tropical island.

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What does the conch symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

The conch is one of the most significant, and arguably the most memorable, of the symbols utilized by Golding in Lord of the Flies. The conch represents order, rational thought and civilization.

The conch, on its discovery, is simply a shell, but when Ralph and Piggy discover how loud it is when blown into, it attains its first symbolic significance; it can be used to summon the other boys and call a group together, and thus it represents human ingenuity and the ability to create order out of chaos. In this first instance it's simply a matter of gathering the survivors of the plane crash, but this becomes almost ritualistically repeated whenever Ralph calls an assembly. It is significant that some of the less-mature children are drawn by the sound of the conch and the formality of the assemblies, but seem to be unable to actually take the meetings seriously or to learn from them; they lack the maturity, and Ralph lacks the primal rule of force, that would ensure his rulings are followed. The conch begins to seem only as powerful as its wielder.

The conch is also agreed to give whomever holds it the sole authority to speak during assemblies, though this rule is almost constantly challenged or disregarded, especially by Jack; despite his initial insistence that they would have "lots of rules", he frequently interrupts the conch-holder, especially if it's Piggy, and often invents exceptions to the conch's power when it suits him. In a failure of his intellectual foresight, Piggy begins to worry that Jack will attempt to steal the conch, despite the fact that Jack appears to invest the least interest in its power out of all the older boys; this also reinforces how closely Piggy depends upon civilization and order for his livelihood. The boys also fail to realize that there is no punishment for speaking out of turn, which further diminishes the conch's power.

The conch's destruction, coinciding with Piggy's death, represents the end of abstract authority and rational thought on the island, and the end of the moral authority and social standards that the boys had brought with them. 

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What does the conch symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

The conch shell discovered by Piggy in the opening chapter of Lord of the Flies symbolizes democracy, lawfulness and civilized behavior. It is decided early in the story that the bearer of the conch will have the right to speak until the conch is placed in another's hands. The boys all agree with this, and a simple waving of the conch stills the argumentative behavior of the boys until Jack's group breaks away from the others. It is Piggy's biggest asset, and the boys are even forced to listen to him when it is in his possession. When the conch is destroyed, the democratic order is destroyed, and unlawful and immoral behavior becomes the rule.

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What does the conch symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

When you see one particular object pop up again and again in a story, that's a good indication that the item is a symbol, meaning that it has more significance than just its immediate function as a thing. It stands for an idea. (Usually more than one.)

When Ralph first finds the shell, Piggy gets excited and says "I seen one like that before. On someone's back wall. A conch he called it. He used to blow it and then his mum would come."

Realizing how useful it is to make a loud sound with the shell as a means of calling themselves all together, the boys use the conch for that purpose. They also use it as a discussion tool: since they make too much noise and get nothing accomplished when everybody talks at once, they make it a rule that whoever is holding the conch gets to talk while the others listen.

Of course, as civilized behavior starts to break down among the boys and they turn into wild beings, a shout of "I got the conch!" doesn't help establish order any longer. The beautiful conch eventually gets shattered into tiny pieces--right at the moment that the always-civilized Piggy is murdered.

So, throughout the novel, the conch shell remains a symbol of authority (because whoever is holding it is in charge) as well as unity and civilization (because it calls the boys together and keeps them in order). When the conch is destroyed, so too are the last bits of reason, cooperation, and civilized behavior among the boys.

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What does the conch symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

The conch shell represents the three things that the boys are clearly in need of: social order, respect, and power.

When they first stumble upon the shell, it reminds the boys of the civility they are accustomed to in their British society. In fact, the power of the conch is clear from the very beginning, as the children vote for Ralph to be chief just because he happens to be the one holding it.

"Him with the shell."

"Ralph! Ralph!"

"Let him be chief with the trumpet thing."

Ralph sets forwards the rules and announces that he who holds the shell may speak without interruption. We see now that the conch itself is not just a symbol of power, but one of courtesy and respect.

However, the conch also becomes a symbol of vulnerability. A shell—no matter how large—is a delicate creation that must be treated with care. Of course, the conch can only hold its power for so long. Once Jack realizes that he can control the others through violence, the shell loses its ability hold the Order together. By the time the conch is destroyed, the boys' civilized world is also in shambles.

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What does the conch symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

Although it is Ralph who discovers the conch shell, it is Piggy who suggests its use. Piggy suggests that Ralph blows the conch to locate other survivors. The signal works, and other boys emerge from the forest. In this first instance, the conch represents unity because it brings the boys together.

The conch is later used to call a meeting where it is resolved that the conch will give the holder an opportunity to speak at meetings. Thus, the conch would be a shared privilege and responsibility for all the boys. In this instance, the conch represents order and authority because it gives the holder an opportunity to express themselves without interference from others and also helps in decision making.

The conch also represents rules and civility. The conch establishes some rules that all boys are expected to respect. However, when Jack and his group start disobeying the rules, the conch begins to lose its power to maintain civility. After the conch is destroyed, the group turns savage.

The author builds on the symbolism of the conch to not only demonstrate changes among the boys but also as a marker of the events that occur on the island. The conch brings the boys together, and keeps them together, until it is destroyed.

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What does the conch symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

The conch symbolically represents democracy, structure, and civility throughout the novel Lord of the Flies. At the beginning of the story, Ralph and Piggy discover the conch shell on the beach, and Ralph uses it to call the other boys on the island together. Throughout the novel, Ralph blows the conch to get the boys' attention and adds structure to the assemblies by creating the rule that one must hold the conch in order to address the group during their meetings. In order to avoid confusion, nobody is allowed to talk unless they are holding the shell at the assemblies. Each boy on the island, including the littluns, has an opportunity to speak during the assemblies which is how the conch shell becomes a symbol of democracy. As the novel progresses, the boys gradually descend into savagery and the conch shell loses its power. While Ralph and Piggy remain proponents for civility and protect the conch, Jack and his followers dismiss the conch which represents their contempt for structure and order. When Piggy is murdered, the conch shell breaks. The broken conch symbolizes the utter chaos and barbarism on the island.

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What does the conch symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

The destruction of the conch symbolizes the end of rules and of order. It had always been a symbol of civilized behaviour and became a token that there existed some form of order on the island. It was the instrument which summoned all the boys to meetings where behavioural norms and other important aspects to ensure the boys' survival on the island were discussed. Furthermore, it was a guarantee that the rules of decency and respect would be adhered to, for the one who had the conch also had the right to speak.

The conch, in being used to summon meetings, also made it possible for the boys to socialize and discuss their concerns as well as their fears but also to consider a means to make themselves noticeable so that they could be rescued. It became a source of comfort for especially the younger and weaker boys, such as the littluns and Piggy who would otherwise not have been listened to. In this sense, it gave them power.

For these reasons, the conch became the most powerful object on the island. Its deep, booming sound created an awareness amongst the boys that something important was about to happen. It is ironic, though, that such an unsophisticated object could attain such a great measure of significance. Further irony lies in the fact that, because it was so simple and natural, it would fit in better in a savage environment, rather than one in which it became a device to maintain civilized order, and, therefore, be an emblem of sophistication. 

Once the conch was destroyed, everything fell apart almost from the moment of its destruction. Its annihilation indicates a dramatic turning-point in the novel. It was obliterated as the following extract from chapter 11 illustrates:

...the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.

It is no coincidence that Piggy died at the same time as the conch. He was the one who thought rationally and who insisted on an adherence to the rules. He believed that they would only survive and be rescued if they maintained control.

Although there had been a move away from civilized order, specifically by Jack and his hunters, who called themselves savages, painted their faces and formed a tribe, their bloodlust and savagery truly came to the fore once the conch was gone. It being out of the way meant that there was nothing to hold them back. They were then able to practice their malice without any restraint, and this is exactly what they did. Jack gleefully and remorselessly celebrated the conch's destruction:

Suddenly Jack bounded out from the tribe and began screaming wildly. “See? See? That’s what you’ll get! I meant that! There isn’t a tribe for you any more! The conch is gone—”  

Once the conch was no more, nothing was sacred to Jack and his tribe. We read in chapter twelve that they purposefully set out to hunt Ralph, flush him out, and kill him. Ralph was nothing more than an object to appease their savagery - he had become much the same as the pigs that they had so gleefully hunted. It was fortunate that the naval officer found Ralph before Jack and his tribe reached him. The officer's arrival meant the return of civilization, the restoration of order and the end of savagery.

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What does the conch literally and figuratively represent in Lord of the Flies?

Lord of the Flies is full of symbols, all of which Golding uses masterfully to reinforce his larger theme of civilization versus savagery. Since no literary figure can ever be a literal representation, you are probably asking for the metaphoric and the deeper symbolic represetations of the conch.  At the beginning of the novel, the conch metaphorically represents authority on the island.  The shell gives Ralph the power to summon the other boys to assemblies and meetings.  In chapter one, the boys liken the shell to the megaphone used by the man at the airport, again reinforcing in their mind the notion of an authority figure. 

As a figurative metaphor for authority, the shell also is a symbol that symbolically represents civilization, rules, and order on the island.  The boys choose Ralph as their chief, and he institutes the rule of using the conch as a "hands up" like at school to signal who may talk without interruption at the tribal assemblies.  Golding builds upon this symbolism throughout the novel, culminating in the conch's destruction at Castle Rock, signalling the end to all pretense of civilization on the island. 

It is also possible to define these two figurative representations as a metonymy for authority and an extended metaphor for civilization.  One thing these representations cannot be is literal.

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From Lord of the Flies, what does the conch represent in our society?

The conch shell is representative of authority in the early days on the island. It allows Ralph (with Piggy's help) to create order and there is an attempt to create a mini home environment - as best they could. The shell becomes more than just a symbol and gives legitimacy to the person speaking - thus inferring democracy.

We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They’ll come when they hear us..

In modern society, freedom of speech and a right to elect leaders is crucial to sound governance and fairness . The conch is the closest the boys can come to this realization. It shows a maturity on Piggy's side - which rubs off on Ralph, a natural leader.

The conch brings the boys together and creates a common purpose-  even if only temporarily - much like co-operation between countries is necessary in a world of imports and exports and transfer of skills and so on.

The boys appear naturally drawn to Ralph’s stillness, attractiveness, and the fact that he possesses the conch that summoned them.

Those who speak through the conch are expected to show respect and those listening must infer respect to the one speaking. This is relevant in the modern day as there are so many ideas and so many possibilities that society demands to be heard.

What is also important is how the conch loses its efficacy becoming

clear, almost translucent.

Ineffectual government would have the same problem and in democracies governments change and new leaders are elected.

We refer to ourselves as supporters of various 'parties' such as democrats, republicans, independents, conservatives, liberal and so on and the conch is representative of the boys' style of leadership. It is relevant that the conch is destroyed at the end when Ralph's leadership is no longer effective, ensured or even in existence.

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What does the conch shell represent in William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies?

There are a number of possible interpretations of the conch shell's symbolism. Ralph discovers it on the beach, and Piggy suggests using it to make noise to signal for rescue from passing ships. Once it becomes clear that rescue is improbable, the conch is used by Ralph to call the boys together for meetings. In these meetings, whoever holds the conch is allowed to speak. In this way, the conch represents order and civility: it is literally the symbolic object used to denote speaking order and so encourages respect and civil engagement. But eventually, as tension grows and two different factions are formed, the conch is smashed.

Because it is Piggy's idea to use the conch in a useful way (Ralph merely found it beautiful), and because its destruction occurs as Piggy is accidentally killed, the conch also represents Piggy's part in the social dynamic: intelligent but physically weak, an outsider whose ideas help Ralph to emerge as a leader. 

In Buddhist spirituality, conch shells represent truth and strength. The loss of the conch leads to a loss of cohesion, and Ralph's intentions to lead honorably are compromised.

It is worth saying that the conch shell also represents female energy; the shape and color of a conch shell has been compared to female genitalia, and the general qualities associated with women in society (cooperation, nurturing, equality, sharing, etc.) are largely absent from this group of boys left to fend for themselves. The conch is destroyed at a time when some of the boys, led by Jack, are indulging in manly pursuits (hunting, fighting, building bigger fires than necessary, painting themselves like warriors, etc.) and its loss denotes a loss of the feminine influence that may have been helping hold the social order together. Interestingly, Piggy is killed after the boys develop a taste for the wild pig meat hunted by Jack, leader of the rival faction that does not want to follow Ralph's leadership. Indeed, after Piggy's death, Ralph's position as leader (a position he tries to use to unite the boys and help them survive in a cooperative way) is threatened and his life is endangered.

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What became the function of the conch in Lord of the Flies?

*Question has been edited to a single question (per eNotes policy).

The conch becomes one of the most definitive symbols in the novel.  Found early on by Ralph and Piggy, the conch calls all of the boys together for their very first organized meeting, and many of the boys connect the creamy white shell to a trumpet, in their minds like the megaphone held by the man at the airport.  In this way, the conch becomes a symbol of authority, which is later reinforced when Ralph chooses to make the conch a visual symbol in their chaotic meetings to help determine who has the right to speak. 

The conch represents power-- the power to speak during meetings, but also the power to control the other boys by calling them to meeting.   Because the conch is connected to Ralph's ideals of orderly meetings and tribal communitry, the conch also comes to represent in a larger sense, civilization itself.  Only at the very end of the novel when the conch shatters during Piggy's death, does the reader gain a true sense that savagery has completely overrun the island.

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How is the conch important in William Golding's Lord of the Flies?

The setting of William Golding's Lord of the Flies is a tropical island, so it is not surprising that a shell becomes one of the primary symbols Golding uses in this novel.

Ralph is the first to see the shell, but Piggy is the first to recognize its significance. Ralph sees that "something creamy lay among the ferny weeds," and he retrieves it. Piggy recognizes it as a conch shell and teaches Ralph how to blow it. For Ralph, the conch is something new and fun to play with, but from the beginning Piggy understands its importance.

The shell has the ability to communicate; when Ralph blows the shell, all the other boys gather. During the next meeting, the shell also becomes the symbol of order. Ralph says, "I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking.” Though the group routinely ignores Piggy when he holds the conch, it is nevertheless the primary symbol of order and civility for the boys.

Like all shells, though, the shell begins to fade and erode from the effects of sun, sand, salt, and water. This parallels the gradual erosion of civility and order on the island. After Jack steals Piggy's glasses, Piggy has finally had enough of being mistreated and takes the conch up the mountain, led by Ralph because he can barely see. When they arrive, Ralph takes the conch from Piggy and blows it to call an assembly. 

Piggy demands to know “Which is better—to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?” He is shouted down by the savages in the fort who eventually answer him by dropping a boulder on him and killing him. "[T]he conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist."

When the conch, the primary symbol of order and civilization, is gone, so is any remaining conscience or restraint. Jack commands his tribe to kill Ralph, and they undoubtedly would have done it if they had not been rescued. 

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What is the symbolism of the conch in Lord of the Flies?

Good question!

Holding the conch gives individuals the right to speak in public gatherings, and therefore, the conch symbolizes a commitment to civilized society, and to a kind of democratic inclusivity in the decision making process.

It matters, therefore, when people start ignoring the conch, that they stumble across the conch essentially by accident--and that it breaks. When it breaks, that's a sign that society is breaking down.

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Name two things that the conch may symbolize in Lord of the Flies. 

Since the conch is the instrument that first brings the boys together on the island, it becomes a symbol of unity. It is also a natural object, almost like a beautiful gem Ralph and Piggy discovered; so it has an association with a natural beauty and a natural order. Therefore, there is something natural about using it to establish order but it is also a social object because it is used to organize the society of boys on the island. It is a symbol of natural and social unity and organization. 

As time goes on, the conch is used when a boy wishes to speak. Given that the leaders do most of the speaking, the conch becomes a symbol of power. He who holds the conch has the power to speak and possibly give orders. When the boys splinter into two groups, the conch loses both of these associations: unity and power. It no longer can be used to unify all of the boys and the boys no longer use it to establish power in an orderly way. The significant moment when the boys abandon a civilized society occurs when Piggy is killed and this is also when the conch is shattered.

The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist. Piggy, saying nothing, with no time for even a grunt, traveled through the air sideways from the rock, turning over as he went. 

Suddenly Jack bounded out from the tribe and began screaming wildly. “See? See? That’s what you’ll get! I meant that! There isn’t a tribe for you any more! The conch is gone—” 

In the end, the conch became the symbol of the tribe itself. 

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Explain the symbolic meaning of the conch shell in the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

One of the major themes of the book, Lord of the Flies,is the tension in all of us between order and chaos, or savagery and civilization. The protagonist, Ralph represents the former and Jack, the antagonist, represent the latter. Golding is suggesting that we all have elements of both in our hearts. 

With that backdrop, the conch is an important symbol in the story for two reasons. First, the conch is used to bring people together. It is, therefore, a force for order and unity. It represents civilization and order. When the conch is broken, this is a very symbolic moment, because this suggests that order is now no longer what governs the boys. Even a look at the novel will show that after the conch is broken, things get considerably worse. 

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Analyze the conch shell as a symbol in Lord of the Flies, by William Golding.

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, is a symbolic novel, and one of the primary symbols Golding uses is a conch shell. Ralph discovers the shell and retrieves it, but it is Piggy who understands how it might be used to help keep order on the island. He teaches Ralph how to blow it, and soon all the other boys respond and begin to gather.

The conch is a powerful symbol of order. When the boys decide to elect a leader, they do not choose Jack (who is already a leader) or Piggy (who has made the only efforts to lead and organize). Instead they choose Ralph.

None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. 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.

The conch works effectively for awhile, as the boys routinely respond its call and respect the rule that whoever holds the conch has the floor; eventually, though, Ralph is afraid to blow the conch because he is afraid no one will respond and they will all be forced to admit that there is no more order on this island. Just as the shell has begun to show the effects of time, sun, salt, and water, so the power of the conch begins to fade. 

In the end, when Piggy confronts Jack and the other savages, he holds the conch in a desperate attempt to maintain some semblance of lawfulness and order on the island; however, Roger drops a boulder onto Piggy, and both he and the conch are crushed. When the conch, symbol of order, is gone, so is order itself. 

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In the book Lord of the Flies, what is the conch used for?

At the beginning, the conch is used to call the boys together. It is a symbol of society, of civilization, and particularly of Ralph's desire to organize the boys into a meaningful group. It is given the authority to determine who gets to speak and rules are made that when someone has the conch, the rest of the boys are supposed to listen.

As time goes on, the authority of the conch begins to wane. It is overshadowed by the power of Jack and his hunters and their idea of fighting back against the beast or whatever else frightens them. Instead of organization, the boys begin to crave the violence and ritual of a more savage way of life.

The conch as a symbol of civilization is destroyed when Piggy is killed by Roger. The dream of organization and civilization is destroyed with it and Ralph realizes that his hope for the boys, his hope for rescue, will certainly not come the way he imagined.

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What does the conch symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

In chapter 11, Ralph, Piggy, and Samneric approach Castle Rock and demand that Jack return Piggy's glasses. Ralph and Jack proceed to engage in a physical altercation, and Piggy shouts at the top of his lungs to end the brawl. Piggy holds onto the conch as he addresses Jack and his savage followers. Piggy proceeds to tell the boys that they are acting like a crowd of kids and asks if it is better to remain sensible like Ralph or dress like painted Indians. Piggy then asks:

Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up? (Golding 259)

As Piggy is addressing the boys, Ralph hears the sound of a massive boulder rolling down the side of the cliff directly toward Piggy. Before Piggy can move out of the way, he is struck by the boulder and the conch breaks into "a thousand white fragments."

The destruction of the conch is a significant moment and indicates the point of no return. Throughout the novel, the conch symbolically represented civilization, democracy, and order. Therefore, its destruction symbolically represents the loss of hope and the end of civilization on the uninhabited tropical island. Without the conch, order and civility do not exist on the island, where anarchy reigns supreme.

Following Piggy's death, Jack and his savages begin hunting Ralph throughout the island, and there is no longer a possibility of creating a functioning, civil society.

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What is the significance of the conch in Lord of the Flies?

Its scientific name is the 'Strombus gigas'.

It is very common in the Caribbean Sea, but is found in other parts of the world as well. 

The conch in this story is important because it was its call which rallied the boys together. On a symbolic level, it represents civilization and order whereas the pig's head (with flies buzzing all around it) represents the primal instinct. (Freud would call it the super-ego versus the id.)

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What is the significance of the conch in Lord of the Flies?

The type of conch shell described in Lord of the Flies is one of the larger, pinkish-tan varieties. Once a small hole is created at the closed tip of the shell, it is possible to use the structure as a musical instrument like a brass or woodwind.

The conch in the story is the symbol of authority and power, as its use denotes whose turn it is to speak. When the conch is sounded, the possessor then is granted the right to verbally express themselves according to the order or structure established by Golding's characters.

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What is the significance of the conch in Lord of the Flies?

A conch is one of several species of edible marine snail, similar to a whelk.  It lives in a whorled shell, and the shell can be used as a musical instrument.  In Golding's book, the boys use the conch shell to indicate whose turn it is to speak.

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Why does the conch symbolize leadership and authority in Lord of the Flies?

In the novel, Lord of the Flies, the boys landed on an island during a war when their plane crashed.  As the students began to gather together, and coming from the British system of schooling where students with leadership qualities are the recognized leaders, they needed to find ways to organize themselves.  The two leaders who emerged are Ralph, a boy with natural leadership skills, and Jack, the leader of the choir boys. 

Piggy proposed the conch as the symbol of authority and the boys agreed.  They all agreed to use the conch instead of something else because the conch was easy to hold, easy to pass to another student, easily seen and thus the perfect object to be the symbol of authority.  Whichever student had the conch was the only one who could speak at the time while the other students were silent and listening. 

Something had to be used so that the boys understood that, for the moment, someone else was speaking and in charge, and they needed the order the conch produced.  So the main purpose of the conch was to produce order.  The conch thus made the world at the beginning seem more normal and more like the civilized world from which they had come. 

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How do the pig's head and the conch symbolize different aspects of power in Lord of the Flies?

If the pig's head is a symbol of one type of power, it is the incredible power of human nature, in this case mostly for evil.  The beast even reveals this side of power to Simon.  The boys start to exhibit some aspects of this type of power as they give themselves over to Jack's tribe, submitting to their more carnal desires to hunt, to be anonymous through the use of paint and filth, to hurt and to kill and to feed.  This power becomes irresistable to all but Ralph and Piggy and Samneric, even as some of the boys under its spell object to the use of that power by Jack.

The conch stands for the power of civilization, the power of rules and order and, in this case, the very thin veneer of goodness that it lends to people.  It only takes a few days for this power to be overcome by the power of disorder, of inner desire, of the animalistic tendencies of the boys.

Through the boys, Golding has crafted a commentary on the influence of both kinds of powers and perhaps what holds it at bay some of the time in "civilized" society.

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Why is the conch a powerful symbol in Lord of the Flies?

In "Lord of the Flies," when the conch is blown, the children hear it, and they go to where it is. The conch, then is a call for all to assemble, and it represents the order of the assembled children and well-behaved, respectful communication. It is thus real and symbolic at the same time. When you hear the conch, you come together as a group, and then, once assembled, if you hold the conch, you have the right to speak. The conch represents the right to assemble and freedom of speech.

Perhaps the earliest example of such an idea is the ancient Hebrew's use of a ram's horn, known as the Shofar. The Shofar was, and still is, used to announce the new year, Rosh Hashanah, and to call all Jews to the temple. It is also used to mark the end of Yom Kippur. Ironically, in terms of "Lord of the Flies," the blast of the Shofar was also used to amass worriers and to announce an advance on the enemy.

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Why is the conch a powerful symbol in Lord of the Flies?

I found some interesting information of the use of conch horns throughout various ancient and modern day cultures, from Phonecian times to the present. I'm sure you will find the following article a helpful reference and discussion starter, as the examples and details given are so precise.

In Golding's 'Lord of the Files,' the conch represents social order, civilization and even democracy (as each boy could, in possession of it, have his say). It is the antipode to Jack's spear, for which the only law to the holder is "might is right."

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What is the full symbolic meaning of the conch in Lord of the Flies?

"Lord of the Flies" is an allegory, or a story with a moral message. Generally, the symbols in an allegory are not as broad as in other types of stories. For example, in the novel "Animal Farm" the character of Napoleon represents Josef Stalin. You can replace the name with power-hungry dictator or uncaring leader, but basically you are left with Josef Stalin. The same is true in "Lord of the Flies" The conch represents moral authority on the island. When the conch is blown, the boys are supposed to gather and discuss their conduct, laws and government. Whoever has the conch, has the right to speak. You can use other words to describe moral authority, such as government, or law, but basically it represents moral authority. When the boys begin to disrespect the conch, they also begin to disrespect the authority of conch. When the conch is destroyed, moral authority is destroyed. Jack has succeeded in grabbing power by force and Ralph, the elected leader, is forced to defend his own life. The conch could also be said to represent government or laws, but the same evidence will be used to support those interpretations.

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What is the literal and symbolic role of the conch in Lord of the Flies from its first use to its shattering?

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, is a symbolic novel set on a tropical island, so it is not surprising that Golding uses a conch shell as one of the primary symbols of the book.

The story of the conch actually begins before Ralph blows it. Though Ralph is the one who discovers and retrieves the conch shell, it is Piggy who understands its significance. He has to teach Ralph to blow it, so from the beginning the conch is connected to both Ralph and Piggy.

Of course, after Ralph blows the conch and the boys have a meeting, the conch becomes a symbol of order, rules, and civility. From this point on, whatever happens to the conch reflects what happens to the boys.  

Despite no demonstrable leadership skills, Ralph is elected leader:

None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. 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.

Even Jack respects the conch at first (except when Piggy has it), but soon the shell begins to do what shells do when they are exposed to salt water, sun, and sand: it begins a slow disintegration. This matches the disintegration of civilized behavior on the island. Piggy clings desperately to the conch and the order it stands for, but it is a lost cause.

Eventually things get so bad that, though Ralph can blow the conch to call a meeting, he does not want to do so.

"If I blow the conch and they don't come back; then we've had it. We shan't keep the fire going. We'll be like animals. We'll never be rescued." 

Ralph clings to the belief that he can keep his power as long as he holds the conch, but it is an illusion. 

After Jack and his tribe come to steal Piggy's glasses, Piggy grabs the conch and finally wants to confront Jack. He has never wanted to do this before because he knows Jack hates him, but he has had enough and makes Ralph take him up the mountain to Jack and the others.

Piggy makes one last plea for order amid the chaos:

“I got this to say. You’re acting like a crowd of kids.” The booing rose and died again as Piggy lifted the white, magic shell.
“Which is better—to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is?”
A great clamor rose among the savages. Piggy shouted again.
“Which is better—to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?”

The answer to Piggy's question comes in the form of more violence. Roger levers a boulder from above which smashes Piggy and shatters the conch.

The conch is gone and savagery reigns. The first thing that happens is that Jack attacks Ralph with his spear, an indication of the violence to come. While the conch was just a shell and incapable of literally maintaining order, it was a symbolic image of order and civility on the island. When it is gone, chaos reigns.

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What are the metaphors in Lord of the Flies related to the conch symbolizing order?

In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, the conch itself is a metaphor for law and order.

The entire novel is a kind of allegory, showing the flaws of civilization through the story of a group of schoolboys stranded on a deserted island. Shortly after the boys crash on the island, they find a surprisingly intact and beautiful conch shell. The boys decide that whoever holds the conch will be the sole speaker, thus establishing a sort of diplomatic procedure for governance. The conch starts off with Ralph, who represents a positive, just, and democratic form of government.

Throughout the novel, the conch remains a symbol of the order the boys initially establish. This is brought to a head when the conch is smashed, thus signifying the collapse of order as the boys descend into murderous, hedonistic chaos.

The choice of a conch to serve as this metaphor makes sense for a number of reasons. Practically, the conch is something that would be found on an island. Conches have also been historically used in ceremonies and to call out to people (as a kind of horn). Finally, the conch itself is both natural and fragile. It is something to be protected as it is so easily broken, and it is, of course, eventually shattered.

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Why is the conch significant in Lord of the Flies?

The conch serves several functions within the text. The first is that it brings the boys together. Piggy and Ralph find the conch and once Piggy explains how to blow it correctly, Ralph sounds a loud blast that brings the boys out of the jungle and the choir from down the beach.

As the boys discuss what to do and elect a chief, they also decide that they will use the conch to decide who gets to speak.

As such, the conch begins to symbolize rules and civilization. Particularly because Ralph and Piggy are very serious about maintaining rules and order, the conch begins to symbolize those things. Particularly because Ralph uses it to call meetings, the conch is important.

When Roger tumbles the boulder down on Piggy and kills him, he also destroys the conch. This signals the end of any sort of civilization on the island because the means of maintaining order has been crushed.

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How is the conch used, what is its purpose and meaning to the boys, and what becomes of it in "Lord of the Flies"?

This question requires an essay-length response.  Here are some ideas to help you get started:

As the novel opens, readers learn that the boys' plane has crashed on an uninhabited island.  As the children begin to gather on the beach to try to figure out what happened (and what they should do next), Piggy suggests that Ralph blow the conch as a signal for everyone to come together for a meeting.  Eventually, the boys learn to associate the sound of the conch with a summons, and understand that they must come to order when the shell is blown.  Thus, the conch shell comes to symbolize order in the novel, and whoever has the conch has the right to speak. 

As chaos begins to take over on the island, the conch becomes less effective; the boys start to ignore its sound, and Ralph becomes frustrated when he realizes that he's losing control.  Ultimately, in the altercation that results in Piggy's death, the conch is shattered; this act symbolizes the complete loss of order on the island. 

Again, you've asked a very complex question--one that requires an answer that is too in-depth to be posted here.  I hope this helps you get started.  Good luck! 

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How is the conch used, what is its purpose and meaning to the boys, and what becomes of it in "Lord of the Flies"?

In Lord of the Flies, Golding uses the people and objects as symbols of something bigger.  The conch is one of those symbols.  Piggy, symbolic of intellect and intelligence, is the first to spot the conch.  Once Ralph gets it and figures out how to blow it (with Piggy's help), it becomes the symbol of organization and civilization.  When the boys hear it they gather, and whoever holds it has the power and privilege to speak and be heard.  It works for a while. 

Like all shells, the conch grows thin and faded over time by the sand and the sun.  Symbolically, it's losing its impact as its physical presence is diminishing.  At one point, Ralph is even afraid to blow the conch because he's afraid no one will come--and they will no longer be civilized.  Finally, Piggy has had his glasses stolen by Jack and his "savages" and wants to confront them.  He clings blindly to the fragile conch and climbs the mountain.  He (and his request for a more civilized way of acting) is mocked and scorned.  Some of the savages lever a rock on him and kill him, smashing the conch in the process.  It is the last vestige of civilization on the island, and what happens next is a hunt to the death--until they are rescued.  The conch, then, is a symbol of all things civilized, and as the conch goes, so goes the behavior of the boys.

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

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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What does Jack say about the conch in Lord of the Flies, and its relevance to the story?

Another educator commented on Jack's initial rejection of the conch in chapter 2, when he is trying to draw lines around where there should be order and where the boys can live lawlessly. While he doesn't like the power the conch represents, even in chapter 8, Jack recognizes the conch as power-giving. Note the details about how he holds and almost subconsciously reacts to the conch in that chapter.

When he tries to overthrow Ralph, it is noted that Jack "clutched the conch to him." When no one votes for Jack to take over as leader, he "laid the conch with great care in the grass at his feet" even as tears began to run down his face. It is interesting that even in the midst of rejection and even though Jack himself comes to represent anarchy, he takes care of the symbol of order and stability.

After Jack's group kills Piggy, Jack emerges victorious, screaming, "See? See? That’s what you’ll get! I meant that! There isn’t a tribe for you any more! The conch is gone—”

In Jack's mind, order has now been officially smashed into " a thousand white fragments" and has "ceased to exist," just like the conch. This opens the door for him to attempt to fully destroy the last remaining symbol of order on the island: Ralph.

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What does Jack say about the conch in Lord of the Flies, and its relevance to the story?

Right from the outset, the conch is an extremely important icon in Lord of the Flies. From the time that Ralph finds this shell and blows into it, the blower of the conch is heralded as the leader. The conch is, in the context of the island upon which the boys find themselves stranded, a beacon of civilization and an icon which heralds order.

After the first few chapters, however, Jack is far more interested in creating anarchy and trying to be a leader himself than he is in following order. As a result, he never gives the conch, or its holder, so much as an iota of respect. His primary goal is to become a leader in his own right in opposition to Ralph. Rather than following Ralph’s leadership, Jack recruits a group of choir boys into an army hunters and becomes obsessed with hunting—to the point that he allows the signal fire to die out and thus misses out on an opportunity of rescue for the boys.

Jack’s constant refrain is that the conch doesn’t count wherever the boys happen to be at the time, whether that happens to be on top of the mountain or on one specific side of the island.

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

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 Lord of the Flies, what does Jack say about the conch? What is the relevance?

Initially, Jack obeys the conch like the other boys and listens to whomever is holding the conch during assemblies. As the novel progresses, Jack gradually begins to descend into savagery and dismisses the conch's authority. In chapter two, Jack demonstrates his antagonistic personality and affinity for anarchy by refusing to obey the conch at the top of the mountain. After Piggy chastises Jack for interrupting him while he is holding the conch and addressing the group, Jack responds by saying,

The conch doesn’t count on top of the mountain . . . so you shut up. (Golding, 58)

Later on, Jack quits Ralph's group and establishes his own tribe of savages on the other end of the island, where he allows his hunters to behave like complete barbarians. Whenever Ralph arrives at Castle Rock and reminds Jack that he possesses the conch, Jack once again dismisses the conch's authority, saying,

The conch doesn’t count at this end of the island. (Golding, 216)

Jack's refusal to obey the conch emphasizes his affinity for anarchy and savagery, which corresponds to his primitive, violent nature. Jack has no desire to help cultivate a civil society and wishes to rule as a tyrant.

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

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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What is the appearance of the conch in Lord of the Flies?

In chapter 1, Ralph and Piggy spot the beautiful conch shell in the lagoon and Ralph enters the water to retrieve it. The conch shell is described as having a "deep cream" color with fading pink spots and a delicate embossed pattern on the outside. The conch shell is also about eighteen inches long and has a slight spiral twist to it. There is also a little hole at the top of the shell with pink lips, which run the length of the shell. Piggy informs Ralph that the conch shell is very expensive and Ralph proceeds to clear the sand out of it before he blows into it, calling the boys to assemble on the platform. The other boys also value the conch shell and elect Ralph to be their chief simply because he is holding it during the assembly. The conch shell becomes a symbol of democracy, order, and civilization throughout the novel and the boys use the shell to take turns speaking at the assemblies.

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In Lord of the Flies, how does the conch symbolize justice?

The conch shell is used by Ralph to call everyone to order when the boys have their meetings. He understands very well the necessity of establishing a system of rules on the island if the boys are not to fall into bloodshed and anarchy. In due course, the conch comes to symbolize the civilized order, with the promotion of justice it entails. The conch confers authority upon whomever holds it, and at first, that authority is respected. But Jack hates and resents Ralph and wants nothing to do with any kind of civilized order. He wants to establish a dictatorship on the island with himself as dictator. His power will be based purely on brute force; he doesn't need the conch and all that it represents. In Jack's world, justice is just so much can't; only might is right.

So long as the conch exists, it holds out the prospect, however remote, that some measure of justice can be secured, irrespective of the myriad conflicts that routinely break out among the boys. But when the conch shell is smashed—with Piggy killed at the same time—all hope of achieving justice is shattered with it.

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What does Jack say about the conch in Lord of the Flies, and its relevance to the story?

The conch is a powerful symbol in the novel Lord of the Flies and symbolically represents order, rational thought, civility, and democracy. From the onset of the novel, Jack disrespects the authority of the conch and continually interrupts the person holding the shell during assemblies. Jack tries several times to blatantly disregard the conch's authority, which reveals his savage, antagonistic nature.

In chapter 2, the boys attempt to start a signal fire at the top of the mountain and fail. When Jack begins to ridicule Piggy, Piggy takes the conch and tries to speak over Jack. Jack responds by saying,

The conch doesn't count on top of the mountain . . . so you shut up (Golding, 32).

In chapter 9, Ralph and Piggy attend Jack's feast at the other end of the island, and Jack asks if any of Ralph's followers will join his tribe. When Ralph challenges Jack by saying that he possesses the conch, Jack responds by saying,

You haven't got it with you . . . You left it behind. See, clever? And the conch doesn't count at this end of the island (Golding, 116).

Ralph begins to argue with Jack and threatens to blow the conch to call an assembly. Jack once again dismisses the conch's authority by saying, "We shan't hear it" (Golding, 117).

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

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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How does the conch symbolize the boys' lost society in Lord of The Flies?

The conch serves a particular purpose throughout the story, changing as time goes on and conditions on the island change. At the outset of the story, it is the thing that calls the boys together from wherever they had ended up after the crash. It is also held up as the first "rule," whoever blows it must be listened to. These are boys that were used to authority figures and suddenly without adults or the rules they make and enforce, the conch stepped in to fill the void. 

And though the power of the conch started to erode with small things and the boys getting tired of "meetings" and talking on and on, it loses its power more permanently when the boys split into two tribes and Ralph and Piggy's desire to have rules and order loses ground to Jack's hunters and their desire for hunting and fun and meat.

At last when it is smashed as Piggy is murdered, the last shreds of civilization also appear to fall away from the island as Jack and his hunters chase Ralph, intent on killing him. 

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Why is the conch important to Piggy in Lord of the Flies?

Piggy is the one character who genuinely shows an interest in ensuring the safety of all on the island. He has a mature and pragmatic approach. He shows insight and awareness. Piggy realises that without adult supervision, there will be chaos and he therefore attempts to maintain some form of order. However, Piggy is remorselessly mocked by the other boys who make fun of his being overweight and wearing glasses. This, therefore, puts him at a great disadvantage and he has to find some other means of gaining authority. He realises and accepts that the boys would never respect him for the above reasons and would rather turn to Ralph or Jack for leadership, no matter how logical and sensible his suggestions may be. The boys just cannot see him as a leader.

It is for these reasons that the conch becomes so important to Piggy. It is a tool which he can utilise to gain some sort of respect. The tool becomes not only a symbol of authority, since the one who holds it must be allowed to speak, but it also symbolises discipline and order. For Piggy, the loss of these would mean a lesser chance of escape from the island.

It is through the use of the conch that Piggy believes that the boys can be organised. The conch can be used to call meetings. It can be used to maintain order during such meetings, for anyone who wishes to speak can ask for the conch and once it is held, gives authority to the speaker. All are obliged to listen to the one holding the conch. This, for Piggy, is where its essence lies. Once meetings have been organised and the boys are together, they can plan the day's activities, discuss what is important or problematic, and try to jointly find solutions. They can determine chores, divide the boys into groups, each with its respective duties etc. Such organisation can only help in achieving rescue.

Furthermore, Piggy is concerned about the littluns and about the signal fire. He sees why it is essential that proper shelters be built and why the signal fire should be kept burning. The smaller boys have been expressing fears about 'the beastie' and this creates anxiety amongst all the boys. Furthermore, without a signal fire, there is very little, almost no chance, of rescue. Once again, Piggy sees the importance of the conch's use to discuss these issues.

Over-and-above the practical uses the conch has, Piggy also utilises it to protect himself. Whenever he holds the conch, he is in control and no one can question his authority, no matter what their sentiments about him may be. The conch therefore becomes a shield protecting him from their abuse.

The tragedy of Piggy's death and the simultaneous shattering of the shell both signify the end of order and control, for then chaos rules. Savagery, lead by Jack and his hunters, now reigns supreme.

The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist. Piggy, saying nothing, with no time for even a grunt, traveled through the air sideways from the rock, turning over as he went. The rock bounded twice and was lost in the forest. Piggy fell forty feet and landed on his back across the square red rock in the sea. His head opened and stuff came out and turned red. Piggy’s arms and legs twitched a bit, like a pig’s after it has been killed. Then the sea breathed again in a long, slow sigh, the water boiled white and pink over the rock; and when it went, sucking back again, the body of Piggy was gone.

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What are examples of the conch symbolizing authority, civility, and its undoing in Lord of the Flies?

In Lord of the Flies, symbolism is very important in understanding William Golding's message that human beings have been conditioned to live according to rules. Without the structure of rules, Golding contends that they will adopt a basic and even savage existence, much like a wild animal, where survival and self-preservation are far more important than community, co-operation, collective safety and fairness.

The conch is the first noticeable symbol on the island and the fact that Ralph spots it first and Piggy recognizes its value and how they can use it is very significant. At first, it is for the purposes of calling the other boys and having a meeting as that is what makes most sense to Piggy. The fact that Piggy walks among the boys taking their names and that the boys "gave him the same simple obedience" (ch 1) reveals how naturally it comes to all the boys to follow a structure  even in their obvious confusion. They act according to the expectations of adults and in Piggy's case of his auntie, in particular. As time goes on and the hope of rescue and a return to that civil society they initially strive for diminishes, so too does the conch's influence.

Even Jack and his choir boys have a very defined structure and follow the sound of the conch under Jack's leadership. The choir boys follow Jack's orders and are "wearily obedient" (ch 1). The boys' decision to vote for chief also reveals their conditioned behavior and the fact that Jack is "chapter chorister and head boy" and so should be a firm believer in the power of the conch yet becomes one of the most savage of all, seems to confirm Golding's theory. 

After Ralph has been voted as chief, it is the conch that reminds the boys of his authority and how the conch must be respected. However, even as early as the third chapter, Ralph is complaining that the boys "work for five minutes then wander off..." suggesting that the conch may call order but no one actually follows instructions.  The "littluns" fall into their own routine which includes obeying "the summons of the conch" which they see as "a link with the adult world of authority" (ch 4) but Ralph is becoming overwhelmed by "the wearisomeness of this life" (ch 5) and is changing his understanding of the role of the conch for which he has "a kind of affectionate reverence." Ralph recognizes the almost hypnotic influence of the conch and uses it to calm any disturbance although he has realized that promises made are rarely kept.   

Jack is changing and once he has painted his face he feels "liberated from shame and self-consciousness" and so the conch will not deter him. In fact, Jack comes to consider the presence of the conch as a challenge to his own authority and, when it is destroyed it is as if he has been released from that hypnotic spell. Rather than lamenting Piggy's death, he feels triumphant that the conch can no longer have any authority. 

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In Lord of the Flies, what do the conch and pig's head represent and their power over the boys?

I found it interesting to interpret Jack, Ralph, and Piggy as a metaphor for the triune conflict of the Id, Ego, and Superego.  In that dynamic the conch and pig's head don't necessarily represent inherently political qualities, but rather become symbolic of the more primal conditions of control and chaos.  That's why the conch "works" no matter who uses it, and also why Piggy (the Superego) clings so desperately to the power of the conch to provide control and stability.  At the same time the pig's head represents the antithesis of control in being the emblem of the most debased and vulgar behavior of Jack (the Id) and his group.  On that note, the argument could be made that the white conch shell represents purity because it always handled delicately until it is destroyed in an act of violence; while on the other hand the pig's head represents beastly vulgarity because of the implicit sexual violence of the hunting scene.  In between, Ralph (the Ego) is trying desperately to convince the entire group to maintain their identity as boys--not the men or beasts that Piggy and Jack want the group to become. Also significant is that the book itself is titled after the pig's head and not the conch.

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In Lord of the Flies, what do the conch and pig's head represent and their power over the boys?

Lord of the Flies by William Golding outlines the potential for disaster when a group of school boys are left stranded on an island with no "grown ups" and two potential leaders, Ralph and Jack. It is clear from the beginning that there is some competition between Ralph and Jack even after Ralph has been voted as chief. At first it does not threaten the boys' safety and Jack is content to lead the "hunters."

Piggy immediately recognizes the value of the conch and its potential to draw the other boys out. On hearing it, boys come out of the undergrowth and are impressed by the conch—except Jack, who is somewhat irritated that, on responding to the sound of the conch, there is no ship (ch 1). On voting for Ralph as chief rather than Jack, the conch reveals its power and it works well for a while; the boys admire its ability to create order. As the story progresses, the boys desperately grasp at its dwindling power as it becomes less effective in restraining Jack. 

The boys become more obsessed with the "beastie" as the plot develops. They are now certain that there is a beast; even Ralph thinks that he has seen it. Significantly, it is Jack who blows the conch (ch 8) after the assumed sighting and takes advantage of the situation in suggesting that Ralph should not be chief. It is important to note how Ralph uses the conch to call order and Jack, who has no respect for it, uses it to cause dissension and disagreement, trying to turn the boys against Ralph and everything that the conch stands for. After Simon's death, Ralph will clutch the conch, rocking himself "to and fro" (ch 10). He is clinging to the remnants of civilization. 

The pig's head becomes significant from chapter 8 when Jack kills a pig and uses its head as a "gift" for the beast. His cruelty is apparent and his ability to use fear as a form of power is very noticeable. The fact that Simon speaks to the head and that the head tells Simon that evil lies in everyone foreshadows what will follow as the boys, in their frenzy, mistake Simon for the beast. Talk of the beast and now the pig's head itself have made the beast too real. 

  1. The conch is representative of order and democracy.
  2. The pig's head is representative of evil and the potential for evil in each of the boys.
  3. Both the conch and the pig's head signify power but of a very different kind. The conch encourages the boys to respect one anothers' rights whereas the pig's head reveals its power through fear.  
  4. The power of the pig's head that promises to have some "fun" with Simon stresses the warped sense of fun that Jack derives from hunting and killing the pig and confirms his descent into savagery as he fails to distinguish Simon from the beast when Simon, philosophical and kind, is killed. 
  5. The ability of the conch to maintain even a fundamental civil order is lost completely when it smashes at the same time as Piggy, intellectual and logical, is killed.

Ralph's intention in using the conch is to advance the good of all the boys and to ensure safety and rescue. Jack and Roger use the power of fear which the pig's head confirms to gratify their own wanton needs, using the boys and their power over them for "fun."

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What quote from Lord of the Flies supports the symbolism of the conch?

In chapter one of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, Ralph and Piggy discover a conch shell. This is not a particularly startling find, as they are on a tropical island; however, unlike Ralph, Piggy immediately recognizes that this shell can become a symbol of power among the boys on the island.

The conch is powerful, for as soon as Ralph blows it, the boys all begin to gather for the first time. When Jack and his choir arrive, Jack assumes an adult blew a trumpet, an indication that already the one who holds the conch has power. When Ralph wants to quiet the group, he holds up the shell and calls for an election; immediately the younger boys all clamor for "the one with the shell" to be their leader.

None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. 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.

The boys vote for Ralph without much cause, but clearly it is his possession of the conch which sways them most. 

Soon the group decides that whoever holds the conch is free to speak interrupted; thus the conch becomes a symbol of order and civility. As shells do, the actual conch begins to disintegrate in the salt, sand, and sun of the island; so also has the civility and order of the island begun to disintegrate into savagery.

Finally, when Piggy is killed and the conch is smashed, all semblance of order and civility are gone. 

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What does the destruction of the conch and Piggy's death symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

The destruction of the conch, and the death of Piggy symbolize the destruction of what shred of civilization was left on the island. Piggy's commitment to rules and law and order has resulted in his death, and Ralph has proven to be powerless before Jack, who, it is clear, will rule by force. Piggy's speech just before Roger strikes him with the rock makes the point clear:

Which is better—to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is? . . . Which is better—to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill? . . . Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?

Roger's rock can be understood as an answer to this question, and it is clear that the twisted vision offered by Jack and Roger has supplanted reason and order for good.

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What are examples of the conch symbolizing authority, civility, and its undoing in Lord of the Flies?

This is a good question. Let me give you a few examples of the symbolism of the conch.

First, at the beginning of the novel Ralph and Piggy find the conch and it is used to bring the boy together. The very fact that they have come together shows civility and organization. This is an assembly of sorts.

Second, when the boys come together for meetings. It is the one who holds the conch that has the right to speak. This also shows civility and order. To take one more step, one can argue that the conch represents legitimate power and democratic principles.

But as the story progresses, the conch is destroyed (along with Piggy), and this is a symbol that civility is now gone. There is something to this interpretation, because after this there is general mayhem and the sheer lack of order and civility.

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What do the conch, beast, and fire symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

These are three important symbols in Lord of the Flies. The conch represents a sense of order and the freedom of speech. The possessor of the conch is always allowed to speak his mind while the other boys listen. It is also the symbol of communication; when the conch is blown, it serves as a signal for the boys to gather. The beast represents the fear of the unknown, misidentified as a scary creature with evil intent rather than the reality of it being the corpse of a parachutist. Fire symbolizes a source of rescue (the signal fire) and sustenance (the means of cooking the wild pigs); when controlled, it represents the best of science, providing warmth and light in the night. But when out of control, the fire serves as a means of destruction.

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In Lord of the Flies, how does the conch symbolize justice?

The conch shell really represents control and a governing hand.  However, it also represents justice because whoever holds the conch is to have the right to speak.  So this "justice" only lasts a few chapters.  After growing tired of all of the rules, Jack and his group don't care about following the conch any more.  They speak when they want to--and feel that only those who SHOULD speak will speak.  So at this point, justice is gone.  There is no equality and only a handful of boys are following the rules.

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How does the conch become a problem for the boys in Lord of the Flies?

In concurrence with the above post, the conch is mainly a symbol of control.  Unfortunately, Piggy does not understand this symbolism at the beginning of their being stranded on an island.  For, when he tells Ralph about observing some others once use a conch and get attention, he seems to attach some power to the conch itself.  It is as though the conch is a talisman to Piggy, and later to Ralph, as well.

Then, in the later chapters when, in an attempt to arrest the anarchy of Jack and the hunters, Ralph calls a meeting and holds the conch, he is very nonplussed when the boys do not react properly at the sight of the conch.  The "problem" with the conch, then, is that it has significance only when the boys attach significance to it.  This difference between true meaning and symbolic meaning is illustrated when Jack declares that he can build a fire, and all the boys but Ralph and Piggy run off to build this fire.  This action of the boys indicates the dilemma of civilization:  rules must be agreed upon and honored with symbols recognized as representative of the civilization.  Otherwise, there is anarchy.

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How does the conch become a problem for the boys in Lord of the Flies?

I do not really think that the conch itself becomes a problem.  Instead, I would say that the conch is just a symbol of the real problem that actually does exist.  The conch is just a symbol of (and a pawn in) the struggle between Jack and Ralph.

The whole story, to me, is the story of the struggle between civilization and the good side of human nature, represented by Ralph, and savagery and the evil side of human nature, represented by Jack.  During this struggle, the two sides fight over the conch at times, but the conch is not really what they want -- what they want is control.

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How does the conch symbolize "right of authority and responsibility" in Lord of the Flies?

When the boys first find the conch, Piggy marvels at how valuable and how powerful it is (11). It was useful for sounding when you wanted authority to come. Piggy says his friend "used to blow [one] and his mum would come" (11). When Ralph uses it he too gains a sense of leadership and authority because immediately the boys come running (13). The other children look to Ralph as leader because of "his size, and attractive appearance; 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" (19). On the following page Ralph "held up the conch for silence" (20).

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What does Jack say about the conch in Lord of the Flies, and its relevance to the story?

The conch is a major symbol in the book.  It represents order and civilization, or at least the quest for it.  Ralph uses the conch in the first chapter and gathers all the surviving boys together when he blows it.  The boys decide that, in meetings, whoever is holding the conch is the one who may speak.  Thus the conch also represents power.  Jack lusts for power, so he respects the conch in the earlier chapters.  In chapter 8, when Jack and Ralph clash once again, Jack tries to take over as leader.  At a meeting, Jack takes the conch and speaks.  He tells the boys that Ralph is an ineffectual leader and he should be replaced.  Jack demands a new vote.  When he loses once again to Ralph, he is humiliated and frustrated.  He gently lays the conch on the ground before leaving the group and running down the beach. His act is a symbolic shift for the conch.  It will not represent power from now on; only a feeble left-over representation of once was a civilization.  By chapter 11, when Piggy is killed holding the conch, the shell has ceased to have any meaning. Jack no longer sees it as anything more than a shell.

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In Lord of the Flies, what does Jack say about the conch? What is the relevance?

At first, Jack obeys the call of the conch. However, once he leaves the boys and forms his own group, he says the conch doesn't mean anything on "his" side of the island. This means that he is rejecting the authority for which the conch stands. He had agreed to abide by the authority at the beginning of the novel. Ironically he said, "we have to have lots and lots of rules". Yet, he is the first one to begin breaking the rules and eventually rejects all rules and authority in order to gain more power.

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What is the appearance of the conch in Lord of the Flies?

Well, we get a description of the conch in Chapter 1—it's cream colored, with touches of pink, and about 18 inches from one end to the other. However, if you'd prefer an image, there's a good one here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conch

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