In the book Lord of the Flies, William Goldberg uses symbols to explain important messages and meanings. Symbolism is described as the use of people and items to help the author express his ideas better. The symbols in the book are constantly changing and evolving into new things. At the beginning of the book they mean something different compared to the end. The three symbols I have chosen are Piggy’s glasses, the conch and signal fire.
Piggy’s glasses mainly symbolized intelligence as he was the smartest of the boys. The symbolism of the glasses changes throughout the book same with their appearance. In the beginning his glasses are in perfect condition and the boys are still being smart about roles in the tribe and trying to get rescued. As the book goes on one side of the glasses break, just as the group starts to lose their judgment and what the real goal is( to get rescued). When Piggy’s glasses get stolen from him and he dies it shows that all the intelligence and voice of reason are gone within the group and they have become more savage. Without the glasses the boy’s judgement is clouded and they are completely blind as Jack and his tribe hunt Ralph instead of keeping the signal fire going, in hopes to be rescued.
The conch at the start of the book represents the little bit of order they have and it’s used as a talking stick. Which is a civilized way for all of the boys to get their opinion and thoughts out. The boys think that the shell represents power and control. It’s used to call meetings and whoever has it is able to talk freely without interruptions.
As the book goes on the boys start to disconnect with authority and civilization, especially as Jack starts to defy Ralph. The conch starts to lose power and becomes more fragile. By the end there is no order or authority on the island. When Roger kills Piggy with the boulder to protect the conch, the conch breaks into thousands of pieces. Showing that the boys have become complete savages. Finally, the fire represents the boy’s connection to their home and their hopes to be rescued.
In the beginning the groups hope of being rescued and their faith is strong, but it slowly starts to deteriorate as the story goes on. The fire also represents the boys lives as it provides warmth and a place to cook food. Without it they would’ve died way before they became savage. Ralph and Piggy have the strongest ties to their old society as they are the ones who try to keep the fire burning for as long as possible, while the other go and hunt or play.
By the end of the book the boys have lost any ties they had to their home and the fire is used for warmth and to cook the food they’ve hunted. They no longer feel the need to be rescued. The fire the boys start to hunt Ralph ironically turns into a signal fire which a ship sees and comes to rescue them. The book contains many other symbols that Goldberg uses to demonstrate his ideas. The three key ones I felt were Piggy’s glasses which gave the boys the ability to see and the intelligence, the conch which showed the civility and order on the island and finally the signal fire which showed their ties to home and the hope of getting rescued. Goldberg changes the meaning of the symbols throughout the book to add depth to the book and help the readers see how everything is changing.
Without civilization and order our world would go through the same things the boys did on the island.