In the allegorical novel, Lord of the Flies, written by William Golding at the end of WWII, the writer communicates the main issue warning that given the right set of circumstances, human beings care capable of savagery. This issue in the novel is developed by the tracking of a struggle between the forces of good and evil or of civilisation versus savagery by using the symbols of the conch, the signal fire and the two characters Ralph and Jack.Becoming marooned on a deserted island with no adult supervision, a group of young boys decide to form their own civilisation with rules and regulations.
Things start off well, but the longer the boys stay on the island the children’s innocence starts to give way to the savagery that lurks in them. Firstly, by using the symbol of the conch, Golding communicates the main issue of civilisation versus savagery by creating the conch with a sense of democratic power. When Ralph and Piggy discover the conch shell they use it to summon the other boys.
When the boys gather they then use it for civilisation and order by letting he who holds it speak, just as the man with the megaphone did. But as the story progresses, the conch loses its power as the island’s civilised manner is lost because the boys descend into savagery. “The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist. ” With the conch being destroyed we know that the civilisation that was left has also been destroyed, this is one of the most memorable parts of the novel.
As the boys rampage through the island, I believe that the author is implying that humans have the natural tendency to descend into/revert to savagery and cruelty once all civilisation is lost. Secondly, the symbol of the signal fire was used to represent the connection to civilisation that the boys had. We see in the beginning of the novel that when the boys start the fire they use it to attract any passing ships with the hope of being rescued. By maintaining the fire it is a sign that the boys would like to be rescued and returned to society.But as the fire starts to die out so does the boys desire to be rescued. We see this when the two characters Ralph and Piggy are discussing the issue of the dying fire, “’We can’t keep one fire going. And they don’t care. And what’s more…’ says Ralph. ‘Whats more, I don’t sometimes. Supposing I got like the others… Not caring. What ‘ud become of us? ’” We see that Ralph is taking concern over what is happening, but he still has that ‘uncaring’ attitude just as the other boys. This is when we realise that the boys start to accept savagery into their lives.The signal fire is really a measurement of how strong the sense of civilisation is that remains on the island. Lastly, since Lord of the Flies is an allegorical novel, many of its characters symbolise important ideas or themes. For example, between the two characters Ralph and Jack, we see that Ralph represents order, leadership and civilisation. Where as Jack symbolises savagery and the desire for power. We see this when Ralph declares that a leader should be appointed, ‘he lifted the conch. Seems to me we ought to have a chief to decide things. ” Then Jack goes to say, “I ought to be chief,” said Jack with simple arrogance, “because I’m chapter choirist and head boy. I can sing C sharp. ” Golding shows us through these two characters’ conflict that while Ralph was chief that civilisation was high amongst the group. But as Jack starts to influence the boys as the story goes on, he begins to take charge and the other boys start to look to Jack instead of Ralph and thus begins the social deterioration and fragmentation of the group.This is how the author portrays that savagery among the boys starts to exceed the civilised life that was first intended on the island. The main issue of civilisation versus savagery was shown through the symbols of the conch, the signal fire and the two characters Ralph and Jack. Golding used these symbols to illustrate how he believes that by being put in a situation like the choir boys with no society or authority, that you will naturally be opened to the innate evil and savagery that has always existed in oneself. Rather than peace and civilisation that is bestowed on you.