Being a part of a group of children having to adapt after being trapped on a island with no surrounding civilization is an unimaginable situation. However, William Golding shows just how terrifying it can be in his novel, Lord Of The Flies, by his use of symbols to represent hardships. The main symbols, which best portrays characteristics are the fire and the conch; symbols leadership and confidence.
Ralph feels the need to create a better place as he attempts to get everyone home. Although he is demanding, Ralph shows that he has good ideas and can enforce what he thinks should happen: “Shut up,” said Ralph absently. He lifted the conch. “Seem to me we ought to have a chief to decide things,” (Golding, 22).” His forcefulness gains respect and a confident response from the others. “Ralph smiled and held up the conch for silence,” (Golding, 23).” The conch is mentioned and revered as one of the symbols of such power. As Ralph blows the conch, the others draw nearer, compelled to follow: “By the time Ralph had finished blowing the conch the platform was crowded,” (Golding32). Piggy, however, was aware of the conch first, but Ralph was credited with its discovery and use. When it was first found, Ralph thought it was a stone in the water but Piggy saw it as the shell and explained what he knew about it:
“A stone.” “No. A shell.” Suddenly Piggy was a-bubble with decorous excitement. “S’right. It’s a shell! I seen one like that before. On someone’s back wall. A conch he called it. The shell emits a deep harsh note boomed. Ralph was amazed at the sound. “Gosh!” (Golding, 17)
The sheer importance of the discovery of the conch, in addition to its appealing sound, it symbolizes the unity of everyone. Ralph, again, shows his leadership abilities as he recognizes the use of the conch, “Conch?” “That’s what this shell’s called. I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking,” (Golding, 33). This designation shows the beginnings of organization and sharpening skills of the children.
Another symbol of strength and command is the fire. Enforcing the rules proves to be a difficult task, but the children would rather play than keep the fire going. Ralph gives the idea for the fire, but it seems to be a formidable task: There’s another thing. We can help them to find us. If a ship comes near the island they might not notice us. We must make a fire. (Golding, 38)
Not only was Ralph’s idea of the fire a critical attempt to save everyone, it also helped to gain more respect and responsibility. Jack suggests the idea of using Piggy’s glasses to light the fire, “His specs-use them as burning glasses!” (Golding 40). They have the responsibility to keep the fire going, but they get side tracked by hunting and the fire goes out. “There was a ship. Out there. You said you’d keep the fire going and you let it out!” He took a step towards Jack who turned and faced him. “They might have seen us. We might have gone home,” (Golding, 70). Although the fire proves that the children are not completely responsible and able to govern themselves, the conch symbolizes the growing hope and potential that people have to advance. Golding brings emotion, thought, and symbolism together in Lord Of The Flies to tell a story of survival by adaptation and ingenuity.