The Conch Shell in Lord of The Flies: a Symbol of Order and Civilization

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 631 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 631|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Order and Democracy
  2. Loss of Civilization
  3. Implications and Themes
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

The conch shell is a powerful symbol in William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies. Throughout the text, the conch shell is mentioned several times, representing order, civilization, and democracy. This essay will explore the significance of the conch shell and its role in the development of the story, highlighting its symbolic meaning and the implications it has on the characters and the overall theme of the novel.

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Order and Democracy

The conch shell, discovered by Ralph and Piggy at the beginning of the novel, quickly becomes a symbol of order and democracy within the group of boys stranded on the deserted island. When Ralph blows into the shell, it produces a loud sound that gathers the scattered boys and signals the beginning of their organized society. The conch shell becomes a tool for establishing rules, as only the person holding it is allowed to speak during the assembly. This democratic system ensures that everyone has a chance to express their ideas and opinions, promoting a sense of fairness and order.

Furthermore, the conch shell acts as a symbol of authority. When Ralph holds the conch, he is the leader, and the others respect his authority. They listen to him and follow his instructions, maintaining order and harmony. This is evident when Jack Merridew challenges Ralph's leadership and tries to create his own group, disregarding the rules established by the conch shell. The conch shell, therefore, represents the power of democracy and the importance of order in maintaining a civilized society.

Loss of Civilization

As the story progresses, the conch shell gradually loses its power and influence over the boys. This loss of civilization is reflected in their actions and behavior. At first, the boys adhere to the rules and respect the authority of the conch shell. However, as they succumb to their primal instincts and the desire for power, the conch shell becomes less significant.

One significant event that marks the loss of civilization is the destruction of the conch shell. When Roger releases a large boulder that kills Piggy and shatters the conch, it symbolizes the complete breakdown of order and the triumph of savagery. With the conch shell destroyed, there is no longer a symbol of authority and democracy, and chaos takes over. The boys descend into violence and anarchy, forgetting their initial goal of being rescued and succumbing to their darkest impulses.

Implications and Themes

The conch shell's symbolism extends beyond the immediate events of the novel, touching on deeper themes and implications. One of these themes is the fragility of civilization and the ease with which it can be destroyed. The conch shell represents the delicate balance between order and chaos, reminding the reader of the importance of maintaining social structures and adhering to established rules.

Additionally, the conch shell highlights the inherent evil present in human nature. As the boys lose their connection to civilization, their true selves are revealed, and they become savage and violent. The conch shell's gradual loss of power serves as a metaphor for the erosion of morality and the darkness that lurks within each individual.


In conclusion, the conch shell in Lord of the Flies is a symbol of order, democracy, and civilization. It represents the power of democracy and the importance of maintaining social structures. However, as the story unfolds, the conch shell loses its influence, marking the loss of civilization and the triumph of savagery. This symbolism extends beyond the immediate events of the novel, touching on themes of the fragility of civilization and the inherent evil in human nature. The conch shell serves as a reminder of the importance of order and the potential consequences of its absence. Ultimately, Lord of the Flies serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the destructive tendencies of human beings when left unchecked.

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Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. Faber and Faber, 1954.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

The Conch Shell in Lord of the Flies: A Symbol of Order and Civilization. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 17, 2024, from
“The Conch Shell in Lord of the Flies: A Symbol of Order and Civilization.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
The Conch Shell in Lord of the Flies: A Symbol of Order and Civilization. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 Jul. 2024].
The Conch Shell in Lord of the Flies: A Symbol of Order and Civilization [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 17]. Available from:
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