LOTF practice essay

Describe at least one important object or symbol in the written text

explain how this object or symbol helped you to understand at least one character.

In William Golding’s book ‘The Lord Of The Flies’, a plane crashes onto a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean during a time of war. The pilot is killed and a small group of boys aged between 6 and 12 survived the crash. There are many objects in the novel which have a meaning behind them which portray certain values and laws. Probably the most talked about object is the conch, a shell first found by Ralph but identified by Piggy. “look a rock” This is the first thing that we hear about the conch, when Ralph and Piggy are lost and Ralph notices a glimpse of light under the ocean. “No, a shell” “S’right, It’s a shell! I seen one like it before. On someones back wall. He used to blow it and then his mum would come.” Piggy uses his past memories and logic to determine the truth which this object holds behind it’s innocent surface. The conch holds values such as leadership, control and rules, it is also used as a type of talking stick.

“We can use this to call a meeting, they’ll come when they hear us.” Piggy and Ralph spend a while deciding how on earth they are going to find the other boys and finally they come up with a grand idea that Ralph can blow into the conch, just how the boy that Piggy knew did and all the other boys who are stranded on the island will come to the sound as it is likely that they also want to know who else survived the plane crash. The plan is a success and the boys are reunited. Ralph takes this opportunity to declare that only the person who holds the conch is allowed to speak and that in order to have some form of rules or control there must be a chief of the boys. “We’ve got to have rules, and obey them. After all we’re not savages, we are English and the English are best at everything.” Ralph is elected as chief as he, is the one at the time who held the conch.

The conch helps us as readers to understand Ralph’s personality, this is because one of the first things we see Ralph do is work out a way to get the group of survivors together and find a way to get some sort of control over them. Ralph didn’t necessarily want to be the chief of them all but I think that he has a very strong sense of leadership in him,and for that to be satisfied he needed to be elected as the leader.

Although Ralph wants to use the conch as a way to show that he holds the control over all of the boys, he knows that as soon as people start misbehaving and ignoring the rules, the power which the conch holds, will be lost. Flags and crowns hold similar values as the conch, in the sense that both show superiority and power to the person which holds it. Like anything really, the power which it holds is only measurable by the meaning in which everyone who stands below the object agrees on. If the meaning and rules which the object holds start to be ignored then that object’s power starts to fade. In this case Ralph is clever and he knows that people are beginning to ignore the laws which the conch held, so he decides not to blow the conch, meaning that although the rules which were set using the conch are being broken the conch still holds the power that it did at the beginning when the rules were first made. This happens because the conch wasn’t blown, so no one had to come when they heard the noise, the conch was never ignored, yet never used. The conch still holds the same power as it did at the start of the novel due to Ralph’s smart thinking.

Ralph shows us throughout the novel using the conch that he is a skilled leader and can control things for small periods of time.


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