A symbol is an object, character or colour used to represent an idea or concept. Symbolism is commonly used in novels to add depth and meaning to fiction, while being able to convey a complex idea in a single word. In William Goldings Lord of the Flies, a group of young boys are stuck on an island after their plane crashes. In the story, Golding uses the specs, the conch and the beast to reflect the beginning and eventually end of civilization and order created by the boys on the island.
Golding uses the character Piggy’s specs to show how the boys create and destroy civilization on the island. First, Piggy has had his glasses since he was little and they are a clear symbol of civilization on the island. When Piggy is talking to Ralph he says “I’ve had these specs since I was three” (Golding, 9). Piggy has had his glasses since he was three showing complete civilization prior to the crash. Before the boys were stranded, they lived in a civil community and the specs are a representation of the order in their old neighbourhood. Secondly, the other boys in the story use Piggy’s glasses to create fire, demonstrating the beginning of their own civilization on the island. Jack see’s Piggys specs and suggests to “use them as burning glasses” (Golding, 38). Jack knows reflecting light through the lens on the glasses will create fire, and the boys need fire to eat, drink, stay warm and the smoke from the fire can be used as a signal for rescue and this is the beginning of a civilized community on the island, without Piggy’s specs there would be no fire and no order on the island. Thirdly, when Jack pushes Piggy over and breaks one side of his specs, it demonstrates a crack in order on the island. A ship sails past the island but the fire is out so they do not know the boys are on the island. Jack got angry and “smacked Piggy’s head” (Golding, 65). When Jack pushes Piggy over it results in the breaking in one lens on his glasses. In this case, not only do the glasses break but the civilization and order on the island begin to crack as well. At this point in the novel, the boys finally begin to break and go crazy.
In Lord of the Flies, the conch shell is a second symbol used to represent the fluctuation of civilization on the island. At the beginning of the book, Ralph and Piggy find a conch shell and use it to round up all the boys and begin order and a civilization of their own. When Ralph finds the conch, Piggy knows what it’s good for and suggests “we can use this to call the others…they’ll come when they hear us-” (Golding, 16). Rounding up all the boys was the beginning of a small civil community. The conch is a key symbol of order on the island, without it, the boys would not have been brought together so fast to begin a civilization. Next, when the boys are all gathered together they come up with the idea to use the conch to control discussion and start a mini civilization. All together, the boys become very rowdy and then the rule is set where they’ll “give the conch to the next person to speak” (Golding, 33). The boys decide that holding the conch gives you the right to speak and that controls the boys and creates order. The conch in this sense is used to represent the boys starting a civilization on the island. Lastly, in the end of the book, one of the boys smash the conch, causing it to break into pieces just like their civilization has. In the book, Roger throws a rock and it “struck Piggy a glancing blow… [the conch broke] into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist” (Golding, 181). The conch is smashed into many pieces; the civilization on the island is too. At this point,