What’s in a Symbol?
For centuries, philosophers have debated the question of whether man is innately evil. William Golding poses this question in his realistic novel Lord of the Flies. Set on an idyllic island during World War II, the novel begins when schoolboys from Great Britain are being flown to safety and their plane is shot down. No adults survive, and the boys are left to govern themselves and get rescued. Golding uses symbolism in his novel to represent the idea of society. The boys’ evolving relationships with each other illustrates Golding’s theme that humans, when removed from the pressures of civilized authority, will become evil.
The first major symbol in this book is the conch. “…the shell is more than a symbol—it is an actual vessel of political legitimacy and democratic power.” (SparkNotes) The conch had much importance to the boys. Their rule about the conch was that whoever was holding the conch at the time had the floor to talk and every one else was to be taciturn and listen. Ultimately, whoever had the conch had the power and order. This was decided when the boys were contemplating who would be their leader. “"Him with the shell." "Ralph! Ralph!" "Let him be chief with the trumpet thing" (Golding 22). Another example of the conch’s power is that it is the only tool that is able to call a meeting. This is why Jack loathed the conch, because he wanted the power. The conch can connect to present day times in that it stands for a person’s ability to do good in the world. If someone has the conch in their life, they have the power to control their own life. If they lose the conch, there will be no law and they will become savage. This is what happens in the book. When the conch shatters and Piggy gets thrown off the cliff and killed, that is the breaking point that determined that the boys were officially uncivilized.
A second symbol in Lord of the Flies is the fire. The fire is “…a possibility to be rescued, and therefore a medium to...
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