The novel ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding develops the idea of how easily civilization can revert to savagery when a plane crash-lands on a deserted island, stranding a group of British school boys. They are forced to fend for themselves because there are no adults on the island. The boys try to set up some rules to loosely mimic how they lived in Britain. In the novel, Golding uses symbols to show the difference between the two groups of civilization and savagery. These symbols are a conch shell, a spear and a pair of glasses. Golding wants to show us that when the normal consequences for our actions aren’t enforced, society starts to break down at an alarming rate. He was influenced by his personal experiences of World War II where he witnessed civilized people committing savage acts against others.
In the novel Golding uses a conch to symbolise civilisation which is linked to the character Ralph and democratic leadership. Golding wants to show us that civilization is fragile and can only be kept up if there are rules that are followed. He wants us to learn that rules are needed to be enforced with consequences if we want to continue to live peacefully together. Ralph does this by using the conch to call meetings that enables them to discuss issues and to allow everyone the right and opportunity to speak. “I got the conch,” said Piggy indignantly. “You let me speak!” Golding wants us to learn how easily cracks can appear. We see this when the boys are having a meeting and no one can get a word in because they are all talking at once. “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking”. This gives the impression of democracy because Ralph is trying to give everyone the opportunity to speak and to get their thoughts heard by the rest of the boys.
Golding also uses the character Piggy and his glasses as symbols. Piggy is considered a mediator and a peacekeeper to try round everybody up and to maintain a civilized society. He doesn’t want to fall into savagery and that can happen so easily when there aren’t any adults there to offer consequences. He does this by helping Ralph maintain civilization by enforcing rules. “I got the conch!” This gives the impression of democracy because it shows that Piggy is trying to exercise his right to speak his thoughts and feelings. Piggy is seen as the voice of reason and his character symbolises intelligence. His glasses symbolise the breakdown of society when the glass in them gets smashed.
Savagery is shown through symbols in the novel such a spear. The character Jack is seen as a boy turned savage