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The Conch Symbolizes Authority
Transcript of The Conch Symbolizes Authority
“They obeyed the summons of the conch partly because Ralph blew it, and he was big enough to be a link with the adult world of authority” (Golding 62).
The conch in William Golding’s
Lord of the Flies
symbolizes authority and leadership among the boys.
When Ralph blew the conch, the ‘littluns’ and ‘biguns’ looked up to Ralph as a link to authority. Whoever held responsible for the conch, they were seen as an adult. To be in charge of the conch, you have to be responsible and must take actions according to what the members of the group want to take. The conch symbolizes authority and leadership because whenever Ralph gave the children orders they obeyed the summons of it. The conch is like their connection to society like they once were.
“Ralph waved the conch. “Shut up! Wait! Listen!” He went on in the silence, borne on in his triumph” (Golding 38).
Ralph waving the conch shows that he is in possession of authority. The 'littluns' obey the summons of the conch and hold some amount of respect for him by being silent. The conch is almost like a sort of microphone, for whoever has it always has the right to talk. This is similar to how a speaker will stand up on a podium with a microphone. The conch is also almost like a king’s crown. Whoever holds the crown holds power, and often times those who were once allies will turn against each other in a desperate attempt to steal the crown and take over. This is similar to how Jack’s tribe seizes the conch later on.
“He took off his glasses and made as if to put down the conch; but the sudden motion toward it of most of the other boys changed his mind. He tucked the shell under his arm, and crouched back on a rock” (Golding 45).
"Him with the shell." "Ralph! Ralph!" "Let him be chief with the trumpet thing" (Golding 22).
In the beginning, Ralph blew the conch to assemble a meeting. As the boys came over to Ralph calling them, they recognized him as a leader, for he is the one who organized the gathering. Voting for the leader of the group, the boys started calling out Ralph’s name, as he already had an aura of authority. The children already thought of Ralph of the group leader before because he had the conch; it was a fancy, revered item and he held it. He was also smart enough to understand how to use it. The conch showed the others that he had the means to be in charge.
“I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking… And he won’t be interrupted” (Golding 33).
The boys are like politicians in a way that they are power hungry and disregard what those have said before them. Instead of trying to solve problems, they are more concerned with seizing the power which the conch personifies as a politician would step up to a microphone. Not only good things are said when one has the conch. A politician will not always speak good things when they have the turn, often they simply insult their opponent and try to gain the favor of the people that they want to make decisions for. The boys don’t really listen to Piggy, despite the enormity of his concerns, and instead simply waited for their turn to talk and hold the conch.
When someone holds the conch, such as in a meeting, that person has the right to talk and share ideas in front of the big group. This lets a 'littlun', or any other boy with less control, be the leader for a few minutes. They can influence others as this is their moment to almost “rule”. During this time, the holder of the conch will be respected and listened to; whoever interrupts the speaker will be scolded. The conch holds power and gives authority.
“But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out; there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate things balanced on his knees, was set apart” (Golding 16).
The boys were all drawn towards Ralph because of many different things, but the most important factor was the conch shell that he possessed. Near the beginning of the story, all the boys are still civilized and innocent, so they gravitated toward the conch shell, the symbol of power and authority. They held votes and allowed the people who possessed the conch to talk. However, the conch does not hold power over those who have lost their will to be civilized. When the novel progressing and most of the boys have descended into darkness, the conch loses because much less significant, which leads the conch to be destroyed.
“See? See? That’s what you’ll get! I meant that! There isn’t a tribe for you anymore! The conch is gone---” (Golding 142).
When the conch shell is ultimately destroyed by Roger’s boulder, the last traces of order begin to vanish from the island. Piggy and Simon, the two boys that do not sucumb to savagery, are dead, and the conch shell, the thing that kept Ralph’s tribe together and the only thing the boys would respond to, is broken, the only one that hasn’t turned savage is Ralph. Even Ralph is struggle to stay rational without Piggy’s help. Ralph appears to be fighting two battles, the physical battle against Jack’s tribe, and the mental battle against savagery. He is on the brink of losing both battles until he is saved by the British naval officer. It appears that civilization has prevailed, but at the cost of two innocent lives and many psychological scars.
By: Kelvin, Kristine, Sarah, Nisha, and Krista
Novel: Lord of the Flies
By: Kelvin, Kristine, Sarah, Nisha, and Krista
Thank you for reading and watching!