Lord of the Flies - Symbols

Fire, the conch, Piggy's glasses and the Beast.

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The Conch

The Conch represents rules, order, democracy, equality, free speech, justice. Ralph is the first to notice it, but Piggy realises the practical use. They are the two characters who understand the importance of the conch and what it stands for. They fight to retain it's use in the group. Rapl feels "a kind of affectionate reverence" for it and Jack's rejection of it is a challenge to Ralph's leadership "we don't need the conch anymore" highlights the descent into evil and savagery. 

When Jack steals Piggy's glasses in Chapter 10, Piggy assumes he is going to take the conch, Jack doesn't steal the conch as he doesn't value it in the same way. The description of the conch is fragile, delicate and beautiful - something that is valued. Which implies civilisation can easily be destroyed (like the conch) by violence, chaos, disorder etc.

"He caressed the shell respectfully" "the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist"

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Fire

The fire symbolises two different things to the two different tribes. At first it symbolised order and civilisation when it was being used for the signal fire, also representing hope.Throughout the book this becomes more and more difficult due to Jack wanting the fire to cook food. Ralph and Piggy use the fire to create a signal, Jack however, wants the fire to cook the meat he has hunted, symbolising threat, anarchy and death. Golding uses personification of a range of animals to describe the fire.

When the fire becomes out of control at the end of the book, this also reflects how the boys have become out of control.

When Jack lets out the fire near the beginning of the book, it annoys Ralph as all Jack cared about was killing his first pig.

"I'd like to put on war-paint and be a savage. But we must keep the fire burning"

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Piggy's glasses

These glasses represent clear sightedness, logical thinking, reason, maturity, wisdom and sensible thinking.

Piggy is the only character to wear glasses and this reflects in the way he is stubborn about how he refuses to yield superstition about the Beast. He has an adult, objective viewpoint that makes him unpopular with "them kids"

When one of the lenses smash it shows how the group are losing sight of their initial objective, which was rescue.

Piggy's glasses were used to start the fire, this was the only thing that the other boys thought was Piggy's "use"

"The glasses, representing logic and reason, break as the group abandon logic and reason and descend into savagery"

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The Beast

The Beast is a symbol which is present through out the novel, but it's form shifts and changes.

1. "a snake thing. Ever so big" even though they insisted this was the Beast, they were wrong and there was no such thing. Said to stop minds wondering/scaring littl'uns? It was also something they could hunt and get rid of. Beast from the sea - fear of the unknown.

2. "gasping sweating, swaying in the fierce light" they also thought this was a beast but it was really a dead parachutist (ironic as the only help they get from the outside world, is a dead person - the people who should be looking after them they are scared of and think is some sort of monster)

3. "the beast was on it's knees in the centre.. crying out against the abominable" this is where Simon realises what the Beast is (something that is in all of them, evil in everyone) and rushes to tell the tribe, they are however, in some sort of trance and kill Simon as a result of this, thinking he is the Beast. They don't mention this again due to embarrassment and all the boys try to insist they weren't there.

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LORD OF THE FLIES

SYMBOLS

(The Conch, Fire, the Beast, Piggy's Glasses)

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Comments

Eleanor Surtees

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Helpful. Thanks :)

Zoeeee

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That was very useful Thank You. :D

Holly

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great work, thanks !!

Paul Dutton

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A useful guide to the themes in the novel, plenty of details here.

Mohammed ennit bro

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piggy dies

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