English 2 Honors
What keeps a group of English boys calm and collected on a deserted island with the absence of adults, shelter, or recollection of what happened? In the novel Lord of The Flies by William Golding, the main character Ralph and his wise sidekick Piggy claim a conch shell as their anchor on to civilization. From the beginning Ralph uses the conch to gather and unite all the boys that were on the island. Throughout the story the conch plays a symbolic role representing not only a tie to civilization, but also Ralph’s role as a righteous and justified chief. Towards the end, the conch is thrown into a continuous struggle to preserve civilized manner, or let the savage behavior of Jack’s hunting group dominate the goodness, of which is slipping.
From the beginning of the story, the conch plays the role of being the safety net for the boys, as well as a constant reminder that they maintain order and discipline on the island. The importance of the conch is represented right at the start as Ralph and Piggy use it to summon the scattered boys. “Ralph grasped the idea and hit the shell with air from in his diaphragm. Immediately the thing sounded. A deep, harsh note boomed under the palms, spread through the intricacies of the forest and echoed back from the pink granite of the mountain”(14). Right after the conch is blown boys immediately start to leak in from the lush forest. Once everyone is together and acquainted, there is a meeting held where there is talk among the boys about needing a “chief”. After comparisons between Jack and Ralph, the more favorable selection points to not only Ralph himself but for the fact that it is he who possesses the conch. As reasons are tossed back and forth there for the selection of chief there are some specific ones that were noted about Ralph starting with “…there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had blown that…was set apart”(19). As the reader can see the conch has displayed already an almost illuminating presence of power from the shell. Right from the moment Ralph claims the position of chief and bearer of the conch, there is a never-ending stab at power and control by Jack as he tries to undermine Ralph, which is present until the very end.
Towards the middle of the novel is when Ralph’s authority gets questioned. Along with the organization of the boys little society seeming to slowly evaporate into a regressed state of savagery of which Ralph, Piggy, Simon, and SamnEric seem to avoid. At this point Jack has established a group known as the “hunters” and is as thirsty for control as ever as he demonstrates when he announces to a group of boys “We’ll hunt. I’m going to be chief”(123). As events start to fold out and the story continues, the only thing that keeps Ralph holding on to a any link to authority is the conch, but even that seems to be growing less and less of importance in the eyes of Jack’s tribe. In addition to this the reader can also notice that between the two tribes only one is in possession of the conch, which is Ralph's tribe. The symbolization of possessing the conch is that they maintain a civilized structure as well as being able to do things such as maintain a fire and also be able to calmly talk about practical issues that must be addressed at the meetings. In contrast Jack’s tribe, which lacks the conch, is always acting foolish and savage, this could be because they lack the anchor to civilization. Furthermore a great example that shows the crumbling of their society is when Jack leads a plot to steal the fire as he explains to the hunters. “We’ll raid them and take fire…Roger can snatch a branch while I say what I want”(128).This represented really a moral turn for the worst for jack’s group because they had to “steal” the fire which is an indication of delinquent