, Research Paper
Imagine that you are in charge of setting up a civilization. What would be the first thing that you did? Many people might choose to set up a system of rules and regulations to better control the way the civilization acted and regulated it. After all, a civilization cannot grow and prosper without rules. The civilization would die because no food would be gathered and no one would work for anything. In Lord of the Flies, William Golding had the boys do exactly this. To symbolize the rules and regulations in the boys? new society Golding picked a symbol of the conch. By doing this he assigned the conch the responsibility of representing the rules and order in the boys island life. The conch symbolized the rise and fall of order and rules in a civilization. When the United States of America were created, one of the first things that the founding fathers did was to write the Constitution. Every citizen of the USA, then and now, respects the rules and regulations outlined by this document. This is one of the main reasons why our country is so successful, because no one disrespects and questions the basis of our society, the Constitution (rules and order). In Iraq, however, there is a totally different situation. There, they have a leader (Saddam Hussein) who misuses the rules. He disrespects the rules and order of Iraq and uses them for his own propaganda. When people of a country, especially the leader of a country, disrespect and misuse the rules, it can have an adverse effect on the well being of that country. The worst thing that can happen for law and order in a society is when people completely disrespect them. This is similar to when Pinochet overthrew the Chilean government. He banned any opposing views and also restricted the freedom of the press. A period of anarchy ensued and common person in Chile was very badly hurt. In Lord of the Flies, William Golding uses the conch as an allegory to law and order in a society. Once people stopped respecting the power of the conch, the boys? civilization was destroyed. Law and order in a society depend on the citizens of that society?s respect for the rules.
When the boys reached the island, the conch helped to form the rules of a society and the assemblies helped to get the civilization started the right way. The conch gave Ralph the power to call an assembly. Whenever he felt a need to address the rules of the society or to scorn the boys for the lack of work ethic he called an assembly to bring all of the boys together. At the assembly, only the one holding the conch is allowed to speak. ?That?s what the shell?s called. I?ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he?s speaking.? (33) This is an enormous privilege because it allows the holder of the conch to share his ideas to the rest of the group. This is the avenue that Ralph takes to share his ideas of the rescue fire, and also gives Jack the responsibility to lead the hunters; giving him satisfaction is his power and also keeping him happy. This is the only way a person can gain power and the boys know and respect that fact. When Ralph is elected, it is because not only did he call the assembly, but he was also holding the conch at the time of the election. ?Yet most powerfully was the conch.?(22) The boys respect the conch. Just the thought of the aura of the conch demanded a massive amount of respect, just like the rules in a society. ?Ralph smiled and held up the conch for silence.?(23) Everything is going wonderfully for the boys at this point in the story. They have a strong leader, food, fire and strong set of rules that everyone respects. When all the citizens stay in line the society of which those citizens belong can grow and prosper.
When Jack does not listen to the conch, he is disrespecting the rules and regulations of the society. By doing so, he is trying to show that the ?Ralph way? is the wrong way of conducting the island and that his way is better and, without knowing it, brings about a downward spiral of law and order. ?Conch! Conch! We don?t need the conch any more. We know who ought to say things. What good did Simon do speaking, or Bill or Walter? It?s time some people knew they?ve got to keep quiet and leave deciding things to the rest of us. (101-2)? He begins a revolt against the rules and order of a society. He also tries to limit the power of other people besides the leaders. When you take the power of speaking, or the voice, away from the common person than you become less of a democracy and more of a dictatorship. Jack is disrespecting the rules, which clearly state that only the person that has the conch may speak. In a democratic society, there are two ways to gain power over the people; taking it violently or having the citizens willfully give it up. Once the old rules seem less important, Jack is more likely to succeed in doing this. The weaker aura and power of the rules that came with Jack?s mini-revolt laid done the foundation for a full-scale power struggle that hurt the boys? society. The society of the boys cannot prosper with the great schism between Jack and Ralph. The aura of the conch is gone and there is very little to hold the boys back from anarchy. When a society no longer respects the rules and regulations of a society, there is no way that it can survive. Jack also used the conch, or the rules, to his own propaganda ideals. Jack took advantage of the conch to promote himself and take power away from Ralph. ?And the next thing is that Ralph said my hunters are no good.?(126) He is trying to get a major part of the group, the hunters, to believe that Ralph, as the leader, does not respect them and their contribution to the society. Once Jack misuses the conch, it looses some of the prestige. If everyone can call an assembly, than why would the boys respect Ralph, who previously was the only person with the power to do this. The conch is loosing power among the boys just as the rules would loose power once such a great schism is developed between powerful people. When this happens, people don?t know whom to turn to. Without the rules and order to guide them, the boys are lost on the island. Because of Jack?s gross discrediting of the rules, the boys? island society can never again reach the heights it did during the period of time where the rules meant something.
Piggy?s death is very symbolic because it represents the destruction of the conch and the end to all of the rules and regulations in the boy?s society. Roger kills Piggy very viciously, which goes against almost any set of rules ever made. He throws a boulder at him. This brutal death is also the death of the conch shell and symbolizes how Roger, Jack and the rest of the hunters hold an incredible disregard for the rules and order of Ralph?s society. ?The conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.?(181) Not only where the rules, or the conch, destroyed, but they ?ceased to exist.? Once the conch is destroyed, Jack?s clan has complete control. In the real world, when anarchy reigns the military is usually who takes over. Once it does so, it has complete control over the people and can manipulate them to its advantage. There is also nobody to keep them in line. William Golding portrays this new lawless society best when he talks about the boy being tortured. ?He didn?t say (why). He got angry and made us tie Wilford up.? (159) Now that there are no rules, Jack takes full advantage of the situation and treats people the way he wanted to from the beginning. Once the conch is destroyed, the rules ?cease to exist,? when this happens the little people, such as Wilford are hurt and the civilization cannot possibly succeed.
The rise and fall of the conch symbolized the rise and fall of a system of rules, regulations and order in a society and also was an allegory for many historical events. Whether the conch was representing the writing of the constitution, or the beginnings of a successful society; Saddam Hussein?s selfish use of propaganda; or a military coup and state of anarchy that followed in Chile, it provided a parallel universe showing how important the rules and regulations are to a successful society. In each situation there is a direct correlation between the amount the citizens respected the rules and how successful the country was. The Lord of the Flies shows how important the peoples? respect for the rules is. Without it, no society can prosper because law and order depend on respect for the rules.