Describe at least one important object in the written text. Explain why that object was important.

In the novel “Lord of the Flies,” by William Golding, social hierarchy is a significant aspect of the text, supported by the use of the conch shell. The plot follows a group of British schoolboys (aged approximately 6-12) who are stranded on a desert island during the beginning of a world war. Throughout the text, the conch is a representation of power while also indicating the influence that society has had on the boys in regards to organisation and democracy. Despite the boys’ mentality weakening as the text continues, the conch was also the single fragment of remaining sanity, their only connection to life as they knew it on the outside world.

Golding portrayed the conch in a manner that indicated it would become an object of magnitude. Readers can sense that it was initially a device of mystery and interest, Ralph and Piggy were simply captivated by its beauty and were driven to retrieve it from the pond. However, later we learn to appreciate it as a tool, initiated by Piggy introducing one of its multiple purposes. Piggy said: “We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They’ll come when they hear us.” The use of the conch is birthed with this line and numerous gatherings occur with one blow in the shell. Golding personifies the conch and we discover that it becomes more than a shell but a representation of strength, the only thing that had the right to demand all of the boys’ attention. This symbol of power, strong enough to capture the minds’ of a large group of boys, resulted in Ralph becoming quite protective over it, especially when Jack went rogue. We see an example of this concern when Ralph is talking to Puggy after Jack attacked their camp, ““You all right, Piggy?” “I thought they wanted the conch.” {…} “They didn’t take the conch.” With no adults, the conch acted as the ultimate jurisdiction on the island by earning the respect of the boys. It signalised equality and its authority was rarely questioned. Therefore, whenever Ralph called an assembly, the floor was generally open with most boys feeling like they had an opportunity to speak their thoughts regardless of their social hierarchy outside of assemblies. The conch was equivalent to a badge, a status of leadership, and can be likened to other symbols that emit supremacy and demand respect, such as a crown. The wearer of a crown portrays his importance through a golden ring on his head, however, these “tools” are not interchangeable with power, it is the people who influence other to believe that they are who hold the power.

Through the conch, society’s influence on the young minds of the boys is portrayed. Their almost instant reaction to create a democracy upon landing at the island demonstrates how British society had taught them to elect a leader in order to achieve things and to organise themselves into groups: “littleuns,” “biguns,” “hunters,” and “builders.” The social hierarchy on the island reflected that of every-day life with the littleuns looking up to the biguns as their role-models and protectors. Another similarity to regular civilisation is how respect was influenced by appearance. This is proven when Ralph, with his sturdy build, fair hair and kind eyes was voted chief, while Piggy was ostracized for his weight and glasses, despite having the highest intellect in the group. Golding sums up Piggy when he writes: “Piggy was an outsider, not only by accent, which did not matter, but by fat, and ass-mar, and specs, and a certain disinclination to manual labour.” The conch was the only upper hand Piggy had. Everybody respected the rules of the conch although Piggy still did not have the respect from Jack for the rules to apply to him. Therefore, Piggy focused on encouraging others to speak up in assemblies to ensure the democracy remained and all ideas were heard. This is demonstrated when a littleun tried to speak: “The small boy held out his hand for the conch and the assembly shouted with laughter; at once he snatched back his hands and started to cry. ‘Let him have the conch!’ shouted Piggy. ‘Let him have it!’ We discover that Piggy has more strength in him than was initially apparent and intellect allows him to work around the rules. Ralph may have been chief but Piggy was defintely his unofficial second in command and the source behind many of successful ideas.

At first, everyone embraced their roles but, like with most governments, we awaited the inevitable; for Jack and Ralph’s equally dominant personalities to clash. Jack’s successful attempt at overthrowing Ralph’s tribes and creating his own with his hunters placed Ralph in a vulnerable position and without the power of the conch his reign, and their rescue, was a lost cause. “If I blow the conch and they don’t come back; then we’ve had it. We shan’t keep the fire going. We’ll be like animals. We’ll never be rescued.” The conch was their one

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