Piggy and Ralph spot a conch and decide to use it to call a meeting. All right! Island society is off to a good start. The boys impose a "rule of the conch" on themselves, deciding that no one can speak unless he's holding the conch. As a representative of law and order, the conch helps Ralph get elected: "The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on his knees, was set apart" (1.240).
Even Jack respects the conch. After he fails to stage a coup, he "laid the conch with great care in the grass at his feet" (8.74). He doesn't throw it or smash it; he sets it down carefully. He may not want to play by the rules, but he still respects the rules.
At the same time, the conch reminds us that the tools of power are, well, fake. Crowns and flags are no more meaningful than this random shell that Ralph spots in the grass. It's the meaning people give them that matters. Rules are only powerful if people agree on them, and that's why Ralph refuses to blow the conch when he knows that things are starting to break down: "If I blow the conch and they don't come back; then we've had it. We shan't keep the fire going. We'll be like animals. We'll never be rescued" (5). Because he doesn't blow the conch, its power holds.
But finally, the conch is broken. Surprise, surprise: it's broken when the brutal Roger pushes a rock over a cliff. (And we mean brutal; check out his "Character Analysis.") When the conch is broken, Jack runs forward screaming that now he can be chief. With no conch, power is once again up for grabs—and Jack is feeling grabby.
One last thing: the conch is definitely associated with Ralph, but it's also associated with Piggy. Piggy's the one who recognizes it and knows how to blow it; he's the one who keeps returning to its power; and they both die at the same time. Weird, right? Any ideas?
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Significance Of The Conch In Lord Of The Flies Essay
861 Words4 Pages
"A conch he called it. He used to blow it and his mum would come. It's ever so valuable" Piggy, Lord of the Flies. The conch is a sea creature, its shell is revered in many cultures such as Hinduism and Buddhism for its beauty and the sound it makes. The conch is also that shell in Lord of the Flies which is blown into to gather the boys. The author, William Golding, uses the conch to show that democracy will succumb to rule by force in the face of serious trouble or need. In the book, it is a symbol of democratic power but it is not without its enemies who eventually overrule it.
The conch is a symbol of democratic power at the beginning of the story. First, it is used to gather the boys. Ralph blows the conch to assemble them…show more content…
This is best shown when Ralph says "I'll blow the conch [
] and call an assembly", Jack responds "We shan't hear it."(167) As a result, we can see that Jack is an enemy of democracy, as any authoritarian ruler would be. Moreover, Jack uses torture to make people do his bidding. We see this when he tortures Sam with a spear, "'What do you mean by not joining my tribe?' The prodding became rhythmic. Sam yelled."(202) We can therefore see that Jack uses pain and fear to rule, another characteristic of dictators such as Sadaam Hussein. Lastly, rocks of all shapes and sizes are used by Jack and his tribe for aggression, another tool of rule by force. One example of this is the use of a boulder to smash anyone who approaches Castle Rock, this is shown in chapter 10 "Robert leaned lightly of the lever and the rock groaned. A full effort would send the rock thundering down to the neck of land. Roger admired."(176) Thus, rocks are tools of Jack's dictatorship and symbols of rule by force. Since Jack opposes democracy, tortures to rule and uses tools such as rocks for aggression; he, his tribe and rocks are symbols of rule by force.
The conch loses its power to Jack and all that symbolises rule by force. As mentioned before, Jack openly disregards the conch and the power it gives. Because of this event, we can see that the conch is starting to lose its power. In addition, Jack does not care for the conch even if he can have it. We see this when Jack