William Golding's Lord of the Flies

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William Golding's Lord of the Flies

Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. In the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding a group of children are stranded on an island when their plane crashes. The freedom of having no parents while living in a society that doesn't enforce rules and laws are eliminated. As the novel progresses the kids find use for different items each symbolizing something of different significance. In this novel William Golding uses different objects to symbolize the difference between civilization and savagery.

Through out the novel, the conch shell represents a way to maintain organization and unity within the group. Ralph and Piggy discover the conch shell on the beach and use it to inform and call the boys together after the crash separates them. The conch shell then becomes a powerful symbol of civilization and order in the novel. This shell effectively influences rules during the meetings. This rule is; whichever boy holds the shell holds the right to speak. "He can hold it when he's speaking," (Golding 33), this explains how whoever is holding the conch has the right to speak; this shows a sense of civility. In this regard, the shell is most definitely a symbol. As the island civilization dissipates, the boys descend into savagery; the conch shell loses its power and influence among them. Also, the boulder that Roger rolls onto Piggy crushes the conch shell, signifying the demise of the civilized instinct among almost all the boys on the island.

Another symbol in this novel is the signal fire. This symbol is a representation of life. The boys create a watch system to make sure the fire stays lit at all times so they have a chance of being rescued. This signal fire burns not only on the mountain, but also on the beach. This is to hopefully attract the attention of passing ships. As a result, the signal fire becomes a test to the boys' connection with civilization. In the beginning, the fact that the boys maintain the fire is a sign that they want to be rescued and return to society. "There was a ship. Out there. You said you'd keep the fire going and you let it out!" (Golding 70). This quote explains how Ralph is angered with Jack when he let the fire burn out.
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