Imagine a group of young boys who have just crash-landed on a deserted tropical island with no adults or supervision. William Golding showed in his ground breaking novel Lord of the Flies, what may happen in just those circumstances. In his very complicated and diverse novel Golding brings out many ideas and uses many literary devices. Above all others though comes symbolism of three main important objects being the conch, fire, and “Piggy’s” eyeglasses. Through each of these three symbols Golding shows how the boys adapt and change throughout the novel. These symbols also help to show each of the boy’s ideals on a variety of elements from human nature to society and its controls. All three of these symbols also change and are one of the most important elements of the story.
The first symbol, which is used all throughout the book, is the symbol of the Conch. The conch was a large shell which piggy had first unearthed on the island. The conch shows powers all throughout the book and always commands respect form the boys due to its importance. The importance and power would best be compared to that of a congregation when a Rabbi removes the torah from the ark, which holds it. The first quote which best shows the importance of the conch is when it is used by Ralph and Piggy to summon all the boys together when they find themselves alone on the island. “The Conch, we can use this to call the others. Have a meeting they’ll come when they hear us- (16).” Then again at the second meeting we see how the boys are drawn to the Conch and how it is like a magnet to the boys, which draws them to who ever uses it. “By the time Ralph had finished blowing the conch the platform was crowded (32).” The conch also shows the first idea of civilization and rules. One example is when there is disorder because everyone I talking at once. “Conch, that’s what the shell is called. I’ll give the conch to the next person who speaks. He can hold when he is speaking (33).” Finally the conch is used for is to show how Piggy does so much to help them and does not get credit for it. It was used that way when Piggy was the first one to see the Conch and Piggy was the one who knew what it was and instructed Ralph on how to use it. But when all the boys came from the Conch’s noise Ralph got credit for it.
The next symbol, which dominates much of the tale, is that of Fire. Fire which to early man was a savior and used for things such as cooking and heating, and which Ralph though would also be there salvation. The fire can be interpreted in many ways. The fire much like the boys starts out good and being used for constructive things. Like getting a ship to save them. “If a ship come by the Island they might notice us. We must make a fire (38).” The fire also shows the responsibility that these boys need but only some of them seem to posses. This I demonstrated when Ralph has Jack and the hunters in control of the fire. And they neglect it in order to go hunting this creates a great conflict. ” There was a ship out there. You said you would keep the fire going and you let it out? They may have seen us we might have gone home (70)!” As you can see the boys are not yet for the responsibility of the Fire and perhaps being in charge of themselves. Then finally the fire is used sort of as a mirror of the boy’s action. That is as the boys started with good ideals of order and recreating a sense of community eventually all hell broke loose and they lost control of themselves and there own actions. The fire also was started for the useful purpose of getting a boat to save them it to gets out of control and claims the life of the young boy with the large birthmark on his face in the beginning and almost kills Ralph at the end.
The final object that is used as a symbol in the novel is the eyeglass of Piggy. Piggy’s eyeglasses exhibit how the boys on the island use things but don’t take care of them and understand them. The eyeglasses were used to make the fire. ” His specs-use them as burning glasses (40)!” Then though even though the glasses showed to be useful for starting the fire they are not taken care of eventually broken lost and then destroyed. This is very similar to how the boys on the island treated Piggy. Piggy showed himself to be useful in instances where he found the conch and always worked for order. But then even though he always wanted to help his fellow boys he is brutally and with out feeling murdered just like one of the real pigs. This shows how the boys’ on the island are actually destroying themselves by destroying every thing that is useful to them.
Throughout the novel Golding does a magnificent job of symbolism. Already shown are three main symbols, which play an important role. Through all of these symbols Golding brings emotion thought and symbolism together in Lord of the Flies. The symbols throughout the novel change with the boys and show how they feel about a rage of issues.